After suffering serious injuries in a car accident last year, Tracy Morgan made a jubilant return to the “Saturday Night Live” stage this weekend, in a performance that was both a celebratory return-to-form and a top notch evening of comedy. While there were some initial doubts about Morgan’s mental and physical state, the comic was on his A-game all evening, whether it was reuniting with his old "30 Rock" pals Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon or guiding a wayward camel offstage in "Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet."
Here are the five best moments:
1. The Monologue
After a slightly alarming (but funny) fake-out, Morgan proved that he is more than ready to get back in the joke-cracking business, riffing that “people were wondering, can he speak, does he have a hundred percent mental capacity? But the truth is I never did.” The whole segment was infused with a poignant sense of homecoming, as Morgan thanked his “Obi-Wan Kenobi” Lorne Michaels for having him “back home” and then reunited with his “30 Rock” “comedy family” for a nostalgia-fueled mini-episode.
The latter was a particular highlight; Obviously we got a kick out of seeing Tracy, Liz, Kenneth, Jenna and Jack in one room again, while Tina’s tender character-breaking tribute -- “We’re so happy you’re OK. We’re even happier you’re ready to make people laugh again” — really drove home what a miracle it is to see Morgan back on the Studio 8H stage.
2. "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet"
Brian Fellow was perhaps Morgan’s most iconic character during his stint on the show, and so it was unsurprising that he would reprise his role as the sassy, non-accredited zoologist for a throwback sketch. The segment had some pretty memorable moments of its own, too, in the form of an errant camel who wouldn’t stop walking in front of the camera.
3. The return of Woodrow
Another great little bit of “SNL” inside baseball was the return of Morgan’s homeless guy character, Woodrow, on Weekend Update, who famously told Britney Spears to take a “doo doo pie” back in 1999 and shared a tender kiss with Kate Hudson in the sewer back in 2000.
4. Family Feud
“SNL” has always done a lot of gameshow sketches, but this sketch — which used the “Family Feud” setting ground as a staging ground for a divorced couple to hash it out, families in tow — was a fresh and funny twist on an old format.
5. Astronaut Jones
The final sketch of the night reimagined “The Martian” if it had starred Astronaut Jones, another one of Morgan’s indelible recurring characters. The sketch was brief, but any excuse to reprise Morgan’s ridiculous campy musical intro sequence is a-okay by us (Demi Lovato's cameo as a sexy alien was also a nice detail).