NEW YORK — Tracy Morgan’s face lit up as this reporter entered his hotel suite in New York the other day and was introduced as being from Chicago.
“You’ve got a great city,” the comedian said. “A great city in so many ways, but especially for comedy and for stand-up comics. The clubs are cool. The people who have come to my show are cool — always responsive. I’ve never had any problem — only good times — with Chicago people.”
One of his favorite things about Chicago is a guy who has been having a huge impact on the local entertainment scene.
“Dick Wolf has certainly given the Chicago economy one helluva boost,” said the comedian, referring to the veteran TV producer’s quartet of locally made NBC series: “Chicago PD,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and the latest addition, “Chicago Justice.”
Morgan credits Wolf with giving his own career a nice boost. At an NBC event a few years ago, he “ran into Dick talking to Lorne Michaels [Morgan’s former “SNL” boss] in a hallway. I made him laugh so hard, I thought he was going to choke! Not long after that, I got ‘The Tracy Morgan Show’ on NBC, and I am convinced — convinced — that Dick Wolf had something to do with that. I think he told the network that they needed to give me my own show.
“So, I always feel grateful to Dick Wolf, and I am so happy he’s finding even more success in that hugely successful career of his out there in Chicago.”
Having survived that horrendous highway crash that nearly extinguished his life in 2014, Morgan is performing again and is releasing a comedy special, “Staying Alive,” for streaming Tuesday on Netflix.
“When I was on my back in the hospital I learned something very important: I learned who my friends really are,” he said. “I have some people in my life who were not there before the accident. And, I had some people who I had been friends with for 40 years, who no longer are in my life. They’re not around anymore — and I’m talking about people who were in my wedding!
“Those people thought I’d never recover, could never be what I was before, or could not do for them what they thought they deserved from me. … So those people are gone now.
“I just had a session with my psychiatrist, who reminded me of something. He said, ‘The two biggest and most infamous car crashes in history were yours — and Princess Diana’s. But you lived.’ ”