Tracy Morgan wants to be clear: “The Last O.G.” is not “a black show.”
“We don’t only explore the black community, but humanity,” he told critics at the Television Critics Association press tour Thursday. “It’s not a black show. It’s about humanity — second chances, redemption.”
Second chances, of course, are a deeply personal theme for Morgan, following a catastrophic car accident in 2014 he barely survived. In fact, when asked why he wanted to surround himself with a strong ensemble in “The Last O.G.”, he directly referenced that incident.
“Maybe I’m just a better man now since the accident,” he said. “It’s not about me — it’s bigger than me. I’m fortunate to have these folks around me.”
“The Last O.G.” stars Morgan as Tray, a former convict who returns to the free world after 15 years in jail. In that time, not only has his Brooklyn neighborhood undergone gentrification, but his former girlfriend Shay (Tiffany Haddish) has found a new partner in Josh (Ryan Gaul), with whom she’s been raising their twin children.
“A big part of the show is that he’s in this world that’s changed without him,” executive producer John Carcieri said. “There’s an Archie Bunker quality to the show, and that’s part of what’s funny about it.”
The strong ensemble also features Cedric the Entertainer as the man who runs Tray’s halfway house. “I tell a lot of really bad jokes intentionally, which is hard for me,” he said.
Both Cedric and Morgan were asked about what it takes to be funny, for which Morgan had a pretty strong metaphor: “It’s like getting into bed with a woman who says, ‘Make me come,’ you gotta be willing to come.”
Haddish is having an incredible moment right now following her breakout turn in “Girls Trip,” and the panel was asked what it was like to work with a newly minted movie star. Much joking about Haddish going diva ensued, though ultimately Morgan made it clear that when she comes to set, “she comes to work.”
“I feel like a foster kid who gets adopted at sixteen, and you can go to college and don’t have to pay any student loans,” Haddish said about her newfound success. (Haddish did, in fact, spend a few years in the foster system, just one facet of her fascinating story.)
While extremely grateful, she did also acknowledge that one aspect of fame hadn’t kicked in yet. “My bank account, it don’t say ‘movie star’ yet. They say 9 months, it’s like a baby. I’m waiting for delivery,” she said.
Morgan, of course, is also exceedingly grateful for the opportunities he’s received lately, and it all comes back to that accident. “If I hadn’t gotten hit by that truck, I wouldn’t be able to make the impact on the world I am today,” he said.
“The Last O.G.” premieres Oct. 24 on TBS.