Tracy Morgan comes back to Dover Downs for more laughs

DOVER — Tracy Morgan says the time for tears is gone. For him, it’s all about the funny.

More than two years after the comedian was critically injured in an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike following a show at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, he’ll be back Friday night for more laughs in a sold-out show.

“When you have something like that happen, you can do two things. You can laugh about it or you can cry about it. And if you don’t laugh about it, you’ll go crazy. The crying time is over for me,” said the Emmy-nominated “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star by phone Tuesday afternoon.

Tracy Morgan brings his "Picking Up the Pieces standup comedy tour to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino Friday night for a sold-out show. (Submitted photo/Paul Mobley)

Tracy Morgan brings his “Picking Up the Pieces standup comedy tour to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino Friday night for a sold-out show. (Submitted photo/Paul Mobley)

On June 7, 2014, a Walmart truck collided with a limousine bus Mr. Morgan and others were traveling in following the Dover Downs performance, which was also a sold-out show.

Mr. Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken leg, nose and ribs. His friend, mentor and fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, 62, was killed in the crash, and two other passengers, Ardie Fuqua, who was his opening act that night, and Jeffrey Millea were seriously injured.

News reports about the accident have usually mentioned the fact that the group was returning from Dover Downs. Mr. Morgan said he thinks that’s too bad.

“It was unfortunate for Dover Downs. Dover Downs didn’t have a thing to with it. They had nothing to with the fact that Jimmy Mack died that night,” he said defiantly.

“It all started on the New Jersey Turnpike. Dover Downs is a great place. They are all awesome people. I had fun that night — just like I know we are going to have fun Friday night.”

He bristles at the suggestion of him having a comeback.

“The journey didn’t begin that night of the accident. It began 23 years ago when I became a comedian. I just thank God I’m still here and I’m still able to keep doing what I do,” he said.

On June 1, 2015, Mr. Morgan made his first public appearance on the “Today” show. He then made a surprise appearance at the Emmy Awards the following September and hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live” on Oct. 17 of that year.

It was shortly afterward that his comedy tour, aptly titled “Picking Up the Pieces,” was announced. It began in February of this year.

Mr. Morgan said a lot of work was put in to getting him back on stage.

“I suffered serious head trauma and couldn’t even spell my own name in the beginning. I went through speech therapy, physical therapy. I went to a psychiatrist that I still see today. A lot of people worked hard to get me into shape to be able to do this,” he said.

“They helped me get my timing and reflexes and also my comedic reflexes back. Being on the road means a lot to me. This tour means a lot to me since I truly believe my sense of humor is a gift from God.”

The tour, which Mr. Morgan said will take the audience on a journey of his life experiences, was supposed to end in May but it has kept on going. It now includes a November date at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Mr. Morgan said he’s been touched by the response he’s been getting from crowds.

“I never knew that people loved me so much,” he said.

“I know I’ve given them love and goodwill throughout the years and I’m really happy that they are tapping into that. I’m just glad to be able to give it back and share my sense of humor. I just thank God it wasn’t taken from me.”

Along with audiences, Mr. Morgan says he is grateful for the love and support he’s gotten from family, friends and those in the entertainment world. He says his friend and fellow comedian Eddie Murphy gave him his first laugh throughout the recovery process.

“I was still in the hospital and (he) was on the phone with me and he said something that made me laugh. I just said ‘I love you Eddie’ and hung up the phone. I was highly sedated at the time,” he said.

Asked if the tour has been therapeutic for him, he says it has not. It’s just been fun.

“If I need therapy, I’ll get in the car and go to the old neighborhood,” said the 47-year-old Brooklyn, New York native.

“If you don’t check yourself, you’ll wreck yourself. You have to reach back and get some of those old spirits to help you get through life.”

As for the future, there are rumors of him portraying Redd Foxx in a movie about Richard Pryor and talk of his own TV show. He is slated to co-star in the upcoming comedy “Fist Fight” with Charlie Day and Ice Cube.

But he’s mum about all of that.

“I absolutely don’t talk about those things. That, to me, is bragging. i just want people to be pleasantly surprised if it all happens,” he said.

He does say he’s excited for the future and looks forward to whatever is ahead.

“I always say that big dreams are monuments to being able to spread love and goodwill and those things are bigger than comedy. It’s all about loving each other. That’s what it’s all about. If I can touch people in a positive way — if I can be an inspiration for others — then I’m fine.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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