LOS ANGELES - TBS' "The Last O.G.," starring Tracy Morgan as a man just out of prison and learning his way around a changed world, also holds a lesson in comedy chemistry.
Morgan's Tray has it with "Girls Trip" star Tiffany Haddish, who plays the ex-flame who built a successful life and marriage instead of waiting out his 15-year sentence for dealing drugs.
There are sparks as well when Tray tries to mentor his cousin, Bobby, played with freewheeling glee by Allen Maldonado, or trades coarse one-liners with Cedric the Entertainer as Mullins, a halfway house manager.
Morgan, who had a difficult recovery from injuries suffered in a 2014 highway crash, generously shares "The Last O.G." (as in "original gangsta") as a showcase for all, not one. The TBS comedy debuts 10:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
"Maybe I'm just a better man now since the accident," the former "Saturday Night Live" player said during a Television Critics Association Q&A. "I know it ain't about me. It's bigger than me. I thank God for that."
Created by Jordan Peele, the Oscar-winning "Get Out" filmmaker, and John Carcieri ("Eastbound & Down"), "The Last O.G." gives Morgan room to play the goofy bombast he perfected in "30 Rock" and the yearning of a man desperate for another chance.
(There are expletives, bleeped as expected on basic cable, but also plenty of raunchy references to be heard, especially in the back-and-forth between Tray and Mullins.)
The returning Tray finds his Brooklyn neighbourhood is gentrified, his cronies are gone or turned into legit businessmen and his adored Shay (Haddish) is living the affluent dream with nice-guy husband Josh (Ryan Gaul) and teenage twins — which, doing the math, Tray figures were fathered by him.
Tray doesn't want to claim the title of dad or upend Shay's family, Morgan said. But he does want to be part of a parental trio and have a role in the lives of Amira (Taylor Mosby) and Shazad (Dante Hoagland).
"I could have come home and been a problem in her (Shay's) life, but then I had to look at (her husband) and I had to look at my kids," he said. "And I see they were in good hands. So that's what we also want to get across in the show, that it's about the babies."
And while the cast is predominantly African-American (aside from Shay's white husband), the show is meant for all, Morgan said.
"This isn't a black show. This is a show about humanity. This is the show about second chances. This is a show about redemption," he said. "Who are we to say others don't matter?"
Lynn Elber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.