The nice thing about profiling Tracy Morgan — besides just hanging out with Tracy Morgan — is there's really no need to ask him questions. For his most in-depth interview since the June 2014 accident that nearly killed him, Morgan took Rolling Stone on the road for a weekend, flying in his rented private plane to casino shows in Michigan and Wisconsin. The whole time – on the plane, in cars, in dressing rooms, on hotel-lobby couches as fans interrupted – he talked, shifting between half-formed but hilarious potential stand-up bits and raw confession, sometimes blurring the line between the two. Here's a few extra things we learned.
Morgan, who popped up in a Danish Girl-based sketch on this year's Academy Awards, had no opinion on the controversy over the all-white acting nominations
"When I think about shit like the Oscars controversy," he says, "I don't give a fuck about it. When you face life and death and you see how precious life is, I don't have time to worry about this and that and the Oscars. I'm too busy living now. I'm just not in the mood for it. Maybe you can understand and maybe you can't."
Though he struggled with depression and worried about losing his comedic abilities in the wake of his crash, he never really stopped being funny
"He was making material the whole time," says his wife, Megan Wollover. "Even when he was in therapy, rehab, right from the hospital, he was still being funny. He had his dark moments. If he wanted to have a conversation with his agent, he could still be funny. So no one could tell."
He wasn't pleased by the 2015 criminal indictment of the truck driver involved in his accident
"Him being indicted wasn't going to bring my friend back," he says, referring to James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, who died in the crash. "But hopefully his punishment will prevent someone else from getting hurt. That's what we have to look at." (The driver entered a not-guilty plea; the case hasn't yet gone to trial.)
Morgan is uninterested in politics
If Donald Trump is elected president, Morgan suggests "we'll go to war," maybe with North Korea: "That young boy over there is for real! His daddy died and the next day, he started testing out missiles." But, Morgan adds, "Hillary is bad, too. I don't give a fuck about politics. That's why Tracy Morgan never spoke about it in his act. I don't believe in it and I don't care. I don't think no man or woman could fix this shit. I think you have to keep your faith in God."
Morgan says he first hit on his wife-to-be with his signature line
"It was so romantic," he says. "I seen her in front of Madison Square Garden. I was at a loss for words. I said, uh, I'm not going to pull out. I'm going to get you pregnant. You're going to have my baby!"
Morgan, who has been sober for a decade, is particularly down on marijuana
"Weed is just a slow leak," he says. "People do that shit to escape. I don't drink. I've been clean and sober for 10 years now. Cause I'm going to feel everything. I don't like being alleviated. Some mother fuckers like being numb. Most important thing to me in my life, besides my family, is my sobriety. I encourage people to put that shit down. You don't need to smoke, you don't need to drink, put that shit down. It's cool until you're 35. Then you look at your life. You're a fucking degenerate. Literally. That's what weed turned you into. You sit on the couch, play video games and watch ESPN. You're a degenerate! Put your pants up! Your pants are all the way down!"
He hasn't played a college gig in many years, since hearing that his material was too "raw" for one young audience
"Better be careful what you say in front of them kids," he says. "You're stifling your comedy when you have to worry about what the fuck you're saying."
Morgan has a habit of adding an "s" to the name of one of his most famous characters, Brian Fellow
As Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels tells it, "Tracy told me, ‘His name is Brian Fellow. And you changed it to Brian Fellows.' And I go, ‘No I didn't change it to Brian Fellows, because it's Brian Fellow's Safari Planet. It's just an apostrophe-s! But what was funny about him on the show wasn't ever his ability to go deeply into character. It isn't like you watched Animal Planet and laughed at it because you went, "God, that's so lifelike." Brian Fellow was Brian Fellow, and that's just a version of Tracy."
Morgan notes that a key element of comedy is confidence
"You got to be a confident motherfucker to stand up on that stage and make people laugh," he says. "You see, most people are scared to death of public speaking. They'd rather die. You'd rather be in a coffin than to give the eulogy? Are you for real?"
Morgan's friend Jimmy Kimmel says that all the love Morgan is getting from the public actually makes his job harder
"We thought there was a good chance that he was not going to survive," says Kimmel. "So, to see him, and not just to see him alive, but still as funny as ever, and as crazy as ever, it just makes you feel good. And I think that's something that he's had to learn to understand when he's doing standup. The audience wants to tell you that they're happy that you're alive, and I think that in a way, complicates the job of being a standup comedian."