What Happens When an Offensive Joke Isn't Funny? It's Just Offensive: Tracy Morgan Goes on Anti-Gay Tirade (Updated with Apology)
Update: Tracy Morgan released this statement this morning: “I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. 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.”
On the one hand, it’s Tracy Morgan, weird supporting player in “30 Rock,” former cast member of “SNL,” and star of A Blaffair to Rememblack, so obviously the man gets some leeway not just for creative license but to account for the crazy. But his humor is typically sophomoric and less offensive than it is simply batty non-sequitur. It’s funny because it doesn’t make any goddamn sense. When Morgan begins to string sentences together in a coherent fashion, you get a sense of what kind of ugly is bubling underneath.
Maybe. Or maybe it’s all a joke gone bad. Is Morgan really a homophobic asshole? Would Tina Fey — supporter of LGBT issues — really work with someone who meant these things earnestly? Or was it all shtick?
I have no idea, but it’s pretty insidious. As part of his stand up routine earlier this week, Morgan delivered a monologue — transcribed by someone in attendance — which has created a hell of a controversy this morning. People are calling on Morgan to explain himself; others are asking Tina Fey to call Morgan out; and people are starting to call for his removal from “30 Rock.” My guess is that, if those calls get too loud, NBC will listen. “30 Rock” doesn’t come back until January, so there’s plenty of time to either let this die down or reformulate the show. The one thing that that Tina Fey can’t do for the next six months is to respond to it with a topical episode.
Anyway, this is what he said during a stand-up routine:
It’s pretty sinister, but it’s not exactly out of character for Morgan. And look: Jokes just like these were delivered by Eddie Murphy 25 years ago, and no one batted an eye. In fact, gay-bashing humor made up a good portion of his Delirious show. But it’s 2011. That shit doesn’t fly anymore, nor should it. And while I’m willing to give Morgan some benefit of the doubt to account for the exaggerative nature of his humor, I’m not quite willing to forgive this much.
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