Review: Tracy Morgan at The Kennedy Center

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Following up his nationwide tour, Picking Up the Pieces, and Netflix special, Staying Alive, actor, writer, producer and comedian Tracy Morgan, celebrated for in his roles in Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, returned to The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall stage Friday night, reviving his stand-up roots, alongside the recent launch of his TBS show, The Last OG.

Tracy Morgan. Photo by Paul Mobley.
Tracy Morgan. Photo by Paul Mobley.

Host/emcee Ardie Fuqua warmed up the extensively multi-cultural and intergenerational audience with his engaging demographic discernments and marked ethnic evaluations (“Asians are the best audience members because they’re winning in everything!”). Riotous monologues from talented comedians Marc Theobald, Ruperto Vanderpool, and Tracey Ashley followed. Ashley was particularly memorable with her Oprah impressions and seamless story-telling proficiency, most notably of her personal life chronicles being in an interracial marriage in the heart of Indiana. Then Morgan swaggered emphatically across the stage, making his grand entrance, greeted with amplified applause and intervallic standing ovations. He quickly gazed around, amped as ever, undoubtedly doing what he enjoys most: making people laugh (and wince).

It is remarkable, indeed a miracle that even Morgan acknowledges in his set, that in June 2014, en route to New York from a show in Delaware, he was a passenger in a horrifying multi-vehicle crash, which killed fellow comic and close friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and left Morgan hospitalized in a coma, with broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.

Without any hesitation, Morgan delved right into what he endured from that life-altering night, revealing that every bone in his face was broken and that he spent eight days in a coma. He threaded the harrowing details of his accident and recovery with humorous digressions into his “crazy” family drama, his xxx-rated insights on “keeping it hot,” sporadic interactions (and earmarked shout outs) with the audience, with intermittent motif-like sprinklings of Donna Summer’s “On the Radio” throughout the show.

“When I was in that coma, y’all, I saw that white light, but I didn’t go to it, because I thought it was the police. I got warrants, man. You can’t get into heaven with priors,” Morgan recalled, as the room burst into laughter.

It was palpable that Morgan felt right at home performing, even confidently announcing and/or nonchalantly pivoting whenever he had to glance through his notes on a barstool to regroup his thoughts or rest his still recovering limbs in an adjacent seat as if he was hanging out and reconnecting with some pals he hadn’t seen in a while. Keenly self-aware, appreciatively spiritual, and nothing short of provocative, Tracy Morgan is intent on staying.

Running Time:  Approximately two hours, with no intermission.

Tracy Morgan performed on April 20, 2018, at 8:00 PM at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall- 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information on upcoming shows at the Kennedy Center, go online.