30 Rock comedian Tracy Morgan has apologised for his anti-gay rant at a recent performance, with co-star Tina Fey and comedian Chris Rock stepping into the fray.
Morgan issued an apology on Friday following a Nashville show last week in which he said that gays should stop whining about being bullied, that kids learn to be gay from the media and that if his son was gay he’d stab him to death.
“I want to apologise to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville,” said Morgan in a statement.
“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.”
America’s largest LGBT rights group, the Human Right Campaign (HRC), responded by acknowledging the apology but said that it was simply not good enough.
“He’s a role model and Morgan now has a responsibility to make amends for his horribly hurtful and dangerous ‘comedy’ routine. He also needs to go further than his apology and correct the record,” said Fred Sainz, HRC vice president for communications.
“Words have consequences and Morgan should be held to a higher standard. Until he does something meaningful, his brand will remain tarnished.”
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) concurred and offered to arrange a meeting between Morgan and a family whose LGBT son or daughter has been the victim of severe violence because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Tracy Morgan now has the opportunity to meet people who have been impacted by LGBT violence face-to-face, to hear their stories, and to understand exactly why his rant touched so deep a nerve,” GLAAD said.
‘The violent imagery of Tracy’s rant was disturbing…’
Fellow comedian Chris Rock defended Morgan on Twitter, commenting: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in world where Tracy Morgan can’t say foul inappropriate shit.”
GLAAD quickly replied to Rock’s tweet, saying, “Language about stabbing kids for being gay isn’t ‘foul.’ It’s dangerous.”
Tina Fey, 30 Rock creator and Morgan’s co-star on the show, also weighed in on the issue; saying that she was glad that he had apologised, but not letting him off the hook.
“Stand-up comics may have the right to ‘work out’ their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but 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.
“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-centred to ever hurt another person.”
She added: “I hope for his sake that Tracy’s apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian co-workers at 30 Rock, without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out pay check from accounting to put in his pocket.”
Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC – the network behind 30 Rock – said that Morgan’s comments “reflect negatively on both 30 Rock and NBC – two very all-inclusive and diverse organisations – and we have made it clear to him that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”