Tracy Morgan has made a triumphant return to “Saturday Night Live,” which had a few special guests on hand to celebrate his first comedic TV appearance since he was severely injured in a car crash 16 months ago.
SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you have not seen the Oct. 17 edition of “Saturday Night Live.”
Morgan’s opening segment featured surprise appearances by his former “30 Rock” castmates Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer. The actors delivered a sketch that was meant to be from a 2012 episode of “30 Rock” that eerily predicted Morgan’s real-life car crash. The bit was complete with teaser promos for the now defunct NBC series “Smash” and “Animal Practice” popping into the frame.
Morgan, who was an “SNL” cast member from 1996 to 2003, opened the show with a heartfelt thank-you to fans and colleagues who helped him through his long recovery from broken bones and a brain injury. “I’m back,” he said. “It feels so good to be here.”
Morgan said that a few months after the accident — in which his SUV was hit by a Walmart truck driver — he called “SNL” exec producer Lorne Michaels and told him: “When I get back on my feet, I want to come home, and here I am.” He called Michaels his “Obi Wan Kenobi.”
And Morgan didn’t shy away from making jokes at his own expense.
“People said, ‘Can he speak?’ Is he at 100% mental capacity? The truth is I never did. I might be a couple of points higher now,” Morgan said.
“SNL’s” cold open also featured Baldwin and another special guest, Larry David, in a spoof of CNN’s Democratic presidential debate. Baldwin played former Sen. Jim Webb while David delivered a spot-on spoof of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Fey also made an appearance on “Weekend Update,” the segment she anchored for years during her time at “SNL.” She offered a commentary on Playboy magazine’s decision to stop publishing nude photos of women next year.
In East Coast markets, “SNL’s” 11:30 p.m. start time was delayed by about 20 minutes when NBC’s coverage of the USC-Notre Dame game ran long.