From Black Voices — If anyone thinks this Tracy Morgan fiasco has anything to do with the controversial statements he made about gay people at a standup show on June 3 in Nashville, the joke is on them.
Stand-up comedians have always been granted a “funny pass” — unspoken permission to say offensive and controversial things about anyone and anything. But only the talented comedians get the pass, and it’s clear Morgan isn’t funny enough to receive one.
A reminder about the last time a comedian without a “funny pass” said some offensive remarks about a group of people and couldn’t get anyone to buy the apology he was selling afterward.
In 2006, Michael Richards (more commonly known as “Kramer” on the sitcom ‘Seinfield’) went ballistic on a group of black hecklers at Los Angeles’ Laugh Factory. He called them the n-word, said, “50 years ago we’d have you upside down with a [expletive] fork up your [expletive].” In the days after, some attempted to come to his defense, but most of his peers knew the truth. Richards was his best as “Kramer,” a character written for him and guided by a more superior comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. Left to his own devices on the stage, Kramer lost whatever semblance he had of a career and these days he’s closer to being a civilian looking for work than a star.
Like Richards, Morgan is a comedian more known for a character he plays on television (“Tracy Jordan” on the sitcom, ’30 Rock’) than a heavyweight on the stand-up scene. Comedian W. Kamau Bell wrote on his Twitter today, “It is an open secret in Hollywood that the only person who knows how to make Tracy Morgan funny 100% of the time is Tina Fey. Not Tracy.”
The secret is open because the secret is so obvious.
Morgan’s comedy is high on absurdity but low on jokes. His HBO stand-up special last year, ‘Tracy Morgan: Black And Blue,’ was barely watchable. He was rude, offensive and foul, but hilarious? No.
Those defending Morgan are not strengthening their defense by commenting on his actual skills as a comedian. Current ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member Jay Pharoah went on a brief rant yesterday via Twitter not to defend Morgan, but to suggest what the uproar about Morgan’s statements mean for comedians today. He wrote, “I’m not supporting anyone, I’m just saying over the past 30 years comedy has dramatically changed because people are so sensitive.”