NewsFeed knows better than most how hard it is to be funny. But the comedian Tracy Morgan managed to get it wrong in spectacular fashion.
Morgan, who in recent years, has sprung to prominence on 30 Rock as his alter-ego Tracy Jordan, is known to be a loose cannon with his bordering on being unhinged part of his routine. But a recent stand up performance clearly crossed the line when it came to pushing comedy’s boundaries.
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On June 3, at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Morgan, among other comments from his set, said he’d stab his son to death if he talked to him in “a gay voice.” Afterward, at least one gay fan expressed outrage online, while the Ryman Auditorium released a statement apologizing to anyone offended by Morgan’s remarks. Understandably, both the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign both called for an apology from Morgan, which he duly did.
“I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others,” Morgan said in that statement. “While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.” That said, this wasn’t enough for the Human Rights Campaign’s Fred Sainz, who countered that, “Words have consequences and Morgan should be held to a higher standard. Until he does something meaningful, his brand will remain tarnished.”
And that issue of the “brand” may well be why Morgan’s 30 Rock boss (both fictional and real), Tina Fey, is similarly unimpressed. “The violent imagery of Tracy’s rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT community,” Fey said in a statement to TMZ.com. “It also doesn’t line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.” Recognizing the power of a zinger, Fey added how she hopes Morgan’s NBC colleagues will accept his apology, otherwise “Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket.”
Fellow comedian Chris Rock has also come down on Morgan, backtracking from an initial show of support, to now state that, “When Tracy says something I usually don’t take it anymore serious than I would a statement from Gary Busey or Flavor Flav … but after reading everything Tracy said, wow, I get it. That [stuff] wasn’t called for and I don’t support it at all.” Even the usually unshockable Wanda Sykes (who once wrote for Morgan) weighed in on Twitter, in a comment that nodded at Rock’s early backing for Morgan. “Ok, piss’d reading, ‘I don’t want 2 live n a world where Tracy can’t say…’ I Do! U Keep the world, just break me off an evolved country.” (via WSJ)
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