I was sitting at the Olive Tree Café above New York's famed Comedy Cellar earlier tonight waiting for Judah Friedlander. The plan was to watch his show, then interview him about his new book, If The Raindrops United, which comes out on October 20. While waiting at said bar, I heard a familiar voice behind me — someone shouting about "gassing me up" — and saw Tracy Morgan being quietly ushered into the rear entrance of the Cellar. There was no way. I ran outside just as Friedlander was arriving. I noticed a fancy white car with New Jersey plates with its engine still running, right out front. It had to be for Morgan. "Did you know Tracy's here?" I asked Friedlander. He didn't. And, as the crowd erupted — so loudly that we could hear it on Macdougal Street — we rushed downstairs. Friedlander brought me down to the rear of the room, where Morgan was on stage. "I'm hosting SNL this week," he told the excited crowd, as fellow comedians looked on and whispered to each other, talking about how it was his first set since his near-fatal accident last year. Morgan made jokes about his speech therapy. At one point during his brief set, he even stopped to cough for a minute. "That's because of the accident," he joked, followed it up by suggesting that it might also be from smoking too much weed. After his set, Morgan came over to hug Friedlander, who was waiting in the wings with me. "T Money's back!" Friedlander said as he hugged him. "Did you see me out there?" Morgan asked, his eyes lit up, the triump of his return clear on his face. Friedlander told me to hang out in the Cellar for a minute while he and Morgan went to have a private conversation. "You picked a good night to show up," Friedlander told me.
After Friedlander's set, we sat down for a meal at The Olive Tree, and he was still in shock to have seen Morgan. They had taken a picture together, and Morgan had given him permission to post it. As Friedlander and I sat down to order and begin our interview, we couldn't help but talk about Morgan. "I think I knew everyone in that crash," Friedlander said of the limo-bus crash. "It was such a horrible thing." He had spoken to him since the accident, but this was his first time actually seeing Morgan. (He had just missed him at the hospital.) "Hang on I gotta get this tweet out," he told me, citing his slow tweeting skills. I stopped bugging him with questions so he could get the picture of him and Morgan out to his followers. I couldn't believe I was sitting with Frieldander as he crafted the words around such a major moment. How do you even begin to caption a picture like that? I asked him. "Just speaking from the heart. It's so great to see Tracy back, you know? Fuck. It's crazy." Check back on 10/19 for the rest of our interview with Judah Friedlander.