This summer, everyone got really upset with Tracy Morgan. Tracy was doing standup in Nashville when his “comedy” went to a dark place. Tracy began talking about homosexuality, and how much he hates gay people, and how he would kill his theoretical gay son just for being gay. After Tracy’s comments/comedy went public, Tracy’s bosses at NBC responded, Tina Fey said something, GLAAD issued statements, and after all that, Tracy went on a big, gay apology tour, telling everyone who would listen that he loves gay people and he would totally not kill his theoretical gay son. Well, last night Tracy was on The Late Show, and he and David discussed this whole incident, and… Tracy made it sound like he wasn’t really sorry…?
Tracy Morgan has gone out of his way to make up for a homophobic on-stage rant this summer in Nashville, but during an appearance Monday night on the “Late Show,” he seemed more upset about people misunderstanding comedy than being offended by violent hate speech.
The “30 Rock” star, who was called out this summer for saying, on stage, that he’d kill his son if he were gay and that homosexuality is something kids acquire from the media, told David Letterman that he was mostly upset that people did not enjoy that show.
“At the end of the day, I’m a comedian,” he said. “I try to use my gift that God gave me to help the world, to heal the world, not to hurt anyone. I was hurt by it because people came to the show and were bummed out so I apologize to those folks that came and was bummed out.”
Promising that he loved his son, Morgan continued to push the comedy angle, saying, “I just think it was a misunderstanding, I was up there working. Sometimes when you have networks like maybe Comedy Central is premise, setup, punchline, premise, setup punchline. But I came up under the old regime, sometimes I have to get to it. And I guess that became a big misunderstanding.”
He continued to emphasize the impatience with his comedy, saying, “So whatever it was, I do comedy in the spirit of Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, and all the people like yourself that came before me. I see people sometimes at shows with cell phones, just right there, and I have to tell them please, when you come into a comedy club, that’s a place where we make fun of everything going on out there.”
Back in June, Morgan issued an apology for his comments, saying, “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.”
He then went on a public relations onslaught, affirmed his support for gay marriage and giving a heartfelt apology to gay kids who may be bullied, in an interview with Russell Simmons. He then gave a press conference in Nashville, appearing with GLAAD and saying in a statement, “I don’t believe that anyone should be bullied or just made to feel bad about who they are. I totally feel that, in my heart, I really don’t care who you love, same-sex or not, as long as you have the ability to love. So now, at this point in my life, it’s an opportunity to make a difference, I don’t really see gay or straight, I just see human beings.”
Look, I understand that there is great comedy which pushes the boundaries and makes people think and laugh at the same time. The problem I, and many others, had with Tracy’s homophobic diatribe was that it stopped being comedy and became more of public statement of bigotry. Incidentally, this is my same issue with Chelsea Handler, who is rarely, if ever, funny. There’s a difference between “comedian” and “scary, bigoted public commentator”. It’s the difference between Richard Pryor and Rush Limbaugh. Some people listen to Rush to laugh, but that doesn’t make it “comedy”.
Photos courtesy of WENN.