SXSW review: Tracy Morgan at Funny or Die

Tracy Morgan performs at the Funny Or Die party at SXSW on March 14, 2016.
Tracy Morgan performs at the Funny Or Die party at SXSW on March 14, 2016.

Tracy Morgan took the stage at Funny Or Die’s party at the Scoot Inn Monday night and told the crowd he was “the Desmond Tutu of entertainment.” And with that non sequitur, everyone’s crazy and dirty comedic uncle was back.

The beloved former star of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” almost died in a horrible collision with a Wal-Mart freight truck in 2014, making the night’s sponsor both ironic and on-the-nose, and Morgan spent a good portion of the first part of his set mining the accident for material. The whole time he was in a coma, he said his grandmother wore God out with her prayers, eventually inspiring the Man Upstairs to reprimand her (and Tim Tebow) for wasting his time when he had better things to do, like make sure Donald Trump didn’t get elected president. He said he went to heaven but didn’t stay long, because you don’t go toward the white light if you think it might be the cops.

Morgan used his reputation as rebellious bad boy to set up such jokes, and it’s not just a comfortable comedic device. From his anecdotes about selling crack to his myriad stories about graphic sex and masturbation, Morgan doesn’t worry with offending anyone. Even when the jokes were simply confessions of his sexual proclivities and not very funny, in the age of political correctness, it was good to see someone fearless, though I don’t expect the New Yorker to be earning any medals from feminist groups anytime soon. But when you’ve almost died and lost the ability to speak, being fearless probably comes easy.

The boundary pushing naturally followed Morgan into satirical discussions of race, as he wedded slavery metaphors and sexual humor. Morgan, whose wife is of mixed race, also defined the difference between arguing with a white woman (she’ll call her lawyer on you) and a black woman (she might kill you). In one of his bits that brought the biggest laughs and guffaws, he called out Tiger Woods for not identifying as back, saying Earl Woods (Tiger’s dad) is undoubtedly the name of a black man.

“The blackest thing he ever did was suck at golf,” Morgan said of Tiger Woods.

Morgan engaged in some biting crowd work, while his act repeatedly bounced from tales of physical therapy and the accident back to his sexual desires. Understandably, it wasn’t Morgan at his most manic or funniest, but it was great to see him back on stage taking swings. Comedy isn’t like sports – you don’t get to rehab in private and wait to come back and perform for the public at 90 percent. Morgan, who was performing in only the 12th show of his first tour since the accident, isn’t all the way back, but from the immediate standing ovation at Scoot Inn, it’s clear his fans are ready to help him rally back to his old self.

 

 

SXSW: Tracy Morgan to perform at Historic Scoot Inn

“30 Rock” fans, rejoice! You can now live every week like it’s Shark Week—or at least, live one weekend of South by Southwest like it’s Shark Week.

In this March 26, 2011 file photo, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan appears onstage at the The Comedy Awards presented by Comedy Central in New York. Morgan says he's sorry for telling an audience that he would "pull out a knife and stab" his son for being gay. The comedian and "30 Rock" actor apologized Friday, June 10, 2011, to his fans and the gay and lesbian community for what he called "my choice of words" during his June 3 appearance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)
In this March 26, 2011 file photo, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan appears onstage at the The Comedy Awards presented by Comedy Central in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, file)

Comedian Tracy Morgan will perform Monday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Historic Scoot Inn as a part of the Funny or Die Junction tour. The tour features comedy and music, and will feature performances by Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.

Hangout before the show starts at 2 p.m. Monday and is only for SXSW attendees with badges. The show is restricted to ages 21 and up.

Morgan recently started touring and performing again after a bus crash in early 2014 left him in critical condition for several months. He recently appeared in a skit for the Oscars telecast on Sunday and hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live” in October of last year.

The second week of SXSW features Judd Apatow and Doug Benson, among others. Check out other SWSW lineups here.