Tracy Morgan Talks ‘Uncomfortable’ Performance at Robert Kraft’s Birthday Party

The former 30 Rock star opens up about tough crowds, the effects of his car accident, and keeping the love going.

Tracy Morgan

Photo by Dana Edelson / NBC

After surviving a brutal car crash in 2014 that put him in a coma, Tracy Morgan is back and better than ever with his “Picking Up The Pieces” stand-up tour, which stops in Cape Cod this weekend. Hopefully, the comedian’s return to Massachusetts goes a bit smoother than his trip to the Bay State earlier this summer. Morgan had a somewhat awkward performance in Bedford at Robert Kraft’s surprise birthday party, where he presented the Patriots owner with a special bathrobe (Page Six says it had his name and the number 75 on the back), but received a lukewarm response to his jokes from the star-studded crowd. Ahead, the former 30 Rock star opens up about that “uncomfortable” show, how love has changed his approach to comedy, and more.

During your last trip to Massachusetts, you performed at Robert Kraft’s surprise birthday party. How was that experience?

All of those great people in that room, that was great. It was good to be there to give Mr. Kraft a bathrobe. He was a good man. His family was beautiful people.

Do you prefer performing in front of everyday people at bigger venues as opposed to a crowd of celebrities like at a party?

I think it might have been a little uncomfortable, but it’s all good. It didn’t shake me. I felt like maybe they were a little uncomfortable, but it’s all good. They’re not from my world. At least they know me now. A couple of them know who I am now. They know there’s a man named Tracy Morgan on the planet.

You’ve talked a lot about the concept of love since coming back to stand-up. How has love changed the way you approach comedy?

Why would you do something if you don’t love doing it? For money? For fame? That ain’t never been my approach to it. If you’re doing this for money or fame, you should get another job. You should do this because you love to do it. I just love to hear people laugh. That’s always been my thing. I love to make people laugh.

Has this new perspective changed your relationship with fans?

Don’t you think if you were in a coma for 10 days and got hit by an 18-wheeler, would it change you? You would never take it for granted again, right? So that’s how I feel. Whenever I’m on stage in front of an audience, I don’t take it for granted. I give it everything I got. Not to say I wasn’t doing that before. I just go extra hard now. Now there’s extra cheese on the pizza with pepperoni.

Do you feel like your approach to crafting jokes and coming up with material has changed over the years?

We’re going to keep this about the funny. We’re not going to talk about material. Like Bruce Lee said in Enter the Dragon, it’s like a finger pointed away to the moon. Don’t focus on the finger or you’re going to miss all that other heavenly glory. It’s about being funny. It’s not about material. That’s the problem with today. We focus on material. Let’s focus on the funny. You come to my show, you’ll laugh. If you’re reading into my material, you an assh—e. It’s just jokes, man.

It seems like people are constantly dissecting comics’ material and every little joke on social media.

They posting every little thing in their life. Come on. It’s like walking around with a sack of Polaroid pictures in your pocket. Who does that? Do you need to post everything you see, everything you wear, everything you drive, every street you went down? Why you posting everything? Some s—t’s got to be private. I share my sense of humor with my audience.

How would you like to be remembered when you do eventually decide to hang up the mic?

When I’m gone I lay my body down to rest, my tomb’s going to say, “Here goes one funny motherf—er with a lot of love.” That’s my way of spreading my love, through my sense of humor. That’s the tool God gave me. That’s the gift he gave me. Spread my love. If you don’t laugh, you’re going to cry. I don’t want people crying. I’m just trying to make this world a better place than what it was when I got here.

Tracy Morgan performs at the Cape Cod Melody Tent on Friday, August 12, and the South Shore Music Circus on Saturday, August 13.

This interview has been edited and condensed.