When I broke the story of Tracy Morgan’s anti-gay meltdown the other day, I had a very circumspect moment just beforehand where I verified, with the original source and with my own sense of comedy, that this was an indeed a case of Morgan going over and above, beyond the realm of actual comedy, and into a simple hate-laced tirade. People who know me well know that I have absolutely no filter, and that I enjoy extremely offensive comedy, as long as it is funny. Indeed, when I remember to, I actually write for a political humor website which has, um, been known to offend in its time.
When the story started to go viral on Friday, I was very interested to see how other comedy people would react. I mentioned that day that Gabe at the hilarious, wonderful site Videogum was fairly disgusted by the reports. My sense that my gut feelings in breaking this story were correct are further confirmed by comedienne Wanda Sykes’ reaction to the whole ordeal. She spoke out on Twitter, several times:
“Hey, just back from family road trip. Ok, Tracy Morgan. Good thing I was busy because it would have been ugly, name calling. Pt. 1?
“Had time to think. Tracy is just a dumb comic. I fault the TN lawmakers. They’ve created an anti-?gay environment. Pt2”
“Don’t believe Tracy would be so ignorant in LA, because we have a mayor, a city council,and police chief who believes we are all equal. Pt3”
“I do believe in free speech, but for a youth in TN or any other numerous place, Tracy just yelled, “Fire,” in a crowded theater.”
Chris Rock at first defended Tracy Morgan:
“I dont know about you, but I dont want to live in world where Tracy Morgan cant say foul inappropriate shit.”
The general sentiments of that statement, I agree with. But Rock amended his statement when he learned more about what Tracy had actually said:
Tracy morgan is a tad off we all know that so when tracy says something i usually don’t take it anymore serious than i would a statement from gary busey or flavor flav .when i first heard the statement i thought it was offensive but it also reminded me of my father saying ill kill you if you ever bring home a white girl but after reading everything tracy said . wow i get it that shit wasn’t called for and i don’t support it at all.
Since this story broke, there have been people leaving comments here and elsewhere, mostly in all caps and featuring misspelled words, that “dude itz comedy can’t take a joke don’t like it shut up.” [That’s a general paraphrase of every single comment along those lines.] It’s refreshing to hear from actual, respected comedians who very much understand why this was not okay. No one’s freedom of speech was threatened in this incident. My hope is that this becomes a teachable moment, for Tracy and for everyone else. To Chris Rock, I say that I don’t want to live in a world where any good comedian can’t say foul, inappropriate shit. I just want it to be funny. And maybe Tracy is learning a hard lesson right now, if this account is to be believed. We hope so.