Commentary: Tracy Morgan and the limits of comedy

Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Elite Member
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Curt James's Avatar


    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    14,718
    Rep Points
    2147483647

    Commentary: Tracy Morgan and the limits of comedy

    Tracy Morgan and the limits of comedy

    By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
    06.13.11

    Whenever there is an issue dealing with race, misogyny, sexual orientation or some other hot-button issue, we often hear the cry that we need to have a national discussion about it, whether in the media, in our homes or in our churches.

    Yet what always seems to happen is that the discussion ends up being you take your side, I take my side, and we express our righteous indignation. Then what was supposed to have started as a conversation turns into a knockdown, drag-out fight, with folks cussing one another out, naturally causing others not to talk, to discuss or to think.

    Case in point: Tracy Morgan's graphic and violent anti-gay "rant" or "bit" or "comic routine" or "meltdown" during a standup act last week in Nashville.

    We haven't seen any video of the show or heard the audio, and are basing our judgments of what he said on the account of someone who was in the audience, was offended and wrote about it on Facebook.

    I got wind of the issue when I read Morgan's apology for what he had to say. When I saw the CNN.com story, my initial thought was, "Damn. Talk about hateful, nasty and crude."

    Yet as I followed the traffic of discussion on Facebook and Twitter, all of a sudden I began to see how folks were categorizing what he had to say and began to ask myself about the other implications of our reaction.

    So I wrote a piece for my nationally syndicated column on that, and all hell broke loose.

    "You hate gays." "You're homophobic." "Why can't you be on our side?" "Why are you defending Tracy Morgan?" "Comedians have a First Amendment right." "It's just jokes, folks!"

    We had a strong back and forth on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, and it was easy to see the passions aroused by what Morgan said and what I wrote.

    My goal wasn't to defend Morgan, as some have said. What stirred me to comment was seeing someone say that, "Comedians should never joke about murder or bring harm and violence to children."

    Someone else tweeted me, "Bigotry has no place in comedy."

    So I cited examples of jokes about the murder of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife and her friend; a comedian joking he wished he showed up at home and his wife was dead; a ton of jokes about beating kids; hitting a 1-year-old in the throat or stomach; and many comedians who have used a gay slur incessantly in their acts, and presented stereotypes of how gays and lesbians talk and walk.

    These aren't the same as what Morgan said, but they could easily be seen as offensive to many.

    Yes, all of these come from popular comedians who are loved and adored by millions.

    To the people who rightfully condemned Morgan's anti-gay comments, and to everyone else, I asked them to answer honestly: "Have you ever laughed at vile, nasty, offensive comics who told sexist, racist and homophobic jokes?"

    The response? A resounding yes.

    I can sit here and tell you with no uncertainty, that I have laughed hysterically at jokes based on sexist, racist, or homophobic stereotypes told by a litany of comedians. That's right. LOL. LMAO. ROFL.

    Take your pick.

    I've listened to Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Flip Wilson, Lisa Lampanelli, Bill Maher, Rick Ducommun, Bernie Mac, George Lopez, Martin Lawrence, Don Rickles, Carlos Mencia, Andrew Dice Clay, Kathy Griffin -- and the list can go on and on and on.

    I've watched Lampanelli, marketed as the Queen of Mean, call a guy in the audience a Hispanic slur; rip someone as "a skinny Jew;" cuss out a guy by telling him she uses the N-word and doesn't care; and on and on and on.

    Is there anyone or any ethnic group that Don Rickles hasn't insulted? And he's a comic legend!

    So, I think we should make an effort to have a real discussion and not just a knee-jerk reaction when some of us say that the comedy stage has no place for sexism, racism and homophobia. Are we really being hypocritical?

    Are we saying that as a society, when we have major social epidemics, those are off limits to the comedy stage? Just the other day I watched comedian Patrice O'Neal's stand-up act late one night on Comedy Central. He had a bit about how good sex felt for someone not wearing a condom. To a socially conscious person, that's an abomination when you look at the HIV/AIDS rates in America, especially in the African-American community. (O'Neal is black.)

    When a prominent HIV/AIDS activist took me to task on my Morgan column, I asked her about O'Neal's bit, knowing the issue is her passion. I didn't get a response. Child abuse is a major problem in America. But don't let me pull out the video clips of comedians of all colors, genders and sexual orientations talking about beating a kid with anything they can get their hands on.

    Are we saying that because it's a societal problem, no joking and no laughing are allowed?

    When groups that have been oppressed begin to make sweeping pronouncements about what can or cannot be said, there are going to be the contradictions that have to be confronted.

    I've had some long, running battles on Twitter, radio, TV and in person with African-Americans on the N-word. For me, I don't like it and I don't use it. On one hand, black folks will blow up when someone white uses the N-word. A lot of folks were offended when people who were not black used the N-word in "The Hangover II." But if that was a movie with a predominantly black cast? Nothing.

    The NAACP had a bury-the-N-word ceremony at its national convention in Detroit a few years ago, but the NAACP Image Awards, which were created to promote the positive images of African-Americans, has honored comedians and musical acts that have used the N-word in their work.

    So society says it's bad, but then for some it's fine -- so what's the mixed message we're sending?

    Let's look at the gay slur, the F-word. When Kobe Bryant directed the F-word at a referee and he was caught on camera, there was a huge uproar. He was hit with a $100,000 fine, and the largest gay and lesbian civil rights group, Human Rights Campaign, issued this statement: "Hopefully Mr. Bryant will recognize that as a person with such fame and influence, the use of such language not only offends millions of LGBT people around the world, but also perpetuates a culture of discrimination and hate that all of us, most notably Mr. Bryant, should be working to eradicate."

    Really?

    I had a gay Twitter follower who said that Lampanelli is his absolute favorite comedian and he sent me a YouTube link to one of her standup acts. In the clip, she used the F-word with impunity while thanking her gay and lesbian fans for showing up. She had to have used it more than a dozen times.

    So I asked this guy how he could say the F-word was wrong, but his favorite comedian used it with ease. His reply? She's a friend of the gay community and has donated money to gay causes.

    So if the HRC says we're to eradicate the F-word from our language, just as the NAACP says we're to get rid of the N-word, then why do we allow the exceptions to the rule, and end up praising the offenders as friends of our communities?

    In response to my Tracy Morgan piece, I had gays and lesbians write me saying that I didn't say the same about Michael Richards or other examples of people who have used the N-word. Even Keith Boykin, whom I have known for some time, took me to task.

    But I told them, and him, that I said repeatedly on CNN that Richards' N-word blowup wasn't a part of his stand-up act; it wasn't a bit; it wasn't a routine; he lashed out at a patron. Is there a difference? You bet.

    Who remembers when Duane "Dog" Chapman was caught using the N-word on his son's answering machine? I was on CNN and was asked if he should lose his A&E show. I said, not at all. He made these comments in private, was on his son's answering machine, wasn't in the workplace, and it didn't rise to the level of him losing his show.

    Yep, the black guy who has called out racism said a white guy like Chapman shouldn't lose his show.

    One gay blogger tweeted me and said I had been wrong to call for Don Imus' firing because he was a comedian like Morgan, and that I employed a double standard. I replied that Imus wasn't a comedian; he had a respectable morning show that attracted presidential candidates, members of Congress, media titans, authors, academics, you name it.

    I said over and over that had Imus still been a shock jock, we would have placed him in that category because we're used to having them make sexist, racist, homophobic comments.

    Are people shocked by anything that Howard Stern says? No. Think about the kind of stuff he has said about any group. What happens when we hear it? Our response for the most part has been, "Well, he is a shock jock." And we move on with our lives.

    So if we're honest, we are known to make exceptions to the rule. Our society will have a different standard for a shock jock then we would for a traditional morning show host.

    Our society will let comedians say things on stage that if someone else said them in the workplace, we would be filing lawsuits.

    And what is so amazing is that this same society will pay to go be insulted, or laugh at a comedian insulting another group, and we will go home saying how great the show was. Then we turn around and say that bigotry has no place in our society. Really?

    This isn't an attempt to muddy the issue of dealing with Tracy Morgan. Let's hold him accountable; let's all agree that what he said was vile and despicable.

    But if we leave it there, and do not become more introspective as a society and confront our own contradictions on race, sex, homophobia and violence, we will have allowed the moment to go to waste and failed.

    If all expressions of bigotry are wrong, then it's wrong on the comedy stage. If all sexism is wrong, then there isn't an exemption on the stage. If racism is always bad, then let's have zero tolerance. If all homophobia is unacceptable, then no one -- friend or foe -- gets a pass. If violence against women should never be joked about, then let's hold even comedians accountable. If we say that no one should ever joke about violence committed against children, gay or not, from this day forth, it ends.

    Don't dismiss this. Think about what I'm saying. Think about what you accept and don't accept. For God's sake, don't just offer a surface rebuke of Tracy Morgan, think about how profound sexism, racism and homophobia -- and violent crime based on such bigotry -- is in our society, and how you are willing to deal with it.

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

    From CNN.com

  2. #2
    Registered User


    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    4,103
    Rep Points
    542394545

    Censorship of comedians or any artists is troubling to me. I didn't find his little tirade the least bit funny, but hopefully it won't prevent other comedians from being funny. I enjoy some very off-color comedians. For example, I really enjoy Lisa Lampinelli, and she basically rips apart everyone on stage (including herself). Carlin and Richard Pryor knew how to bridge the gap between racial and cultural issues very well. Pryor even managed to make a joke of when he lit himself on fire freebasining cocaine. I'd rather put up with a few crossing the line in exchange for those who pull it off with more style and class.

  3. #3
    Registered Abuser
    myCATpowerlifts's Avatar


    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Inner Space
    Posts
    7,403
    Rep Points
    177640862

    Seems like common sense to me.

  4. #4
    Elite Member
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Curt James's Avatar


    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    14,718
    Rep Points
    2147483647


  5. #5
    Elite Member
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Curt James's Avatar


    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    14,718
    Rep Points
    2147483647



    Last edited by Curt James; 06-13-2011 at 03:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Elite Member
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Curt James's Avatar


    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    14,718
    Rep Points
    2147483647

    lol Marvet Britto is a good looking woman. So, yeah, I Googled her and...

    Marvet Britto – Mistress Extraordinaire

    Written by hollywoodstreetking on Dec-30-09

    THE ONLY STORY MTO WILL NEVER STEAL

    From http://www.zimbio.com/Stephon+Marbur...ordinaire+Gary



    Marvet Britto is soon to announce she is writing (or has already written and will release) a TELL-ALL book. Ms. Britto is a very clever woman and don’t think for a minute this isn’t all orchestrated. Her relationship with MTO is nothing compared to what Marvet is privy to and what I am being told will be published.

    According to Marvet, she is “proud of each step taken to build her empire” and she has “done it with TRUTH & INTEGRITY”. Since publishing the story about Marvet Britto’s relationship with TMZ like site MTO we have received numerous messages relaying information about Ms. Britto character.

    So here is a sample of the TRUTH & INTEGRITY Marvet speaks of:
    From a reader who would like for me to keep them anonymous:
    You do not know the half about Marvet. she sleeps/has slept with most of her male clients, including ones whose wives she represents.

    Deleon Sheffeild and Gary Sheffield are her friends/clients…she has been sleeping with Gary for years.

    Stephon Marbury and his wife…went on vacation with him…she’s been sleepign with Stephon for years also.
    She repped, Latrell Sprewell and was sleeping with him…while he lived with his fiancee and 5 kids.

    Denzel Washington…for years. and all up in Paulettes face.
    Jay Alexander from Fubu ‘loaned’ her the money for her condo in tribeca…and she has never paid him back. his money set her up in her office shes in now also.
    Actually Jay gave her a million dollar rock and gave her the money to start the agency as a partnership. Marvet kicked Jay to the curb and kept the business for herself wholly.
    She used to sell stories to Page 6 about her clients and kept a shoe box full of hotel receipts and other things to keep as evidence. this was 15 years ago but is very known by those of us who were around that she would hang with celebs and then turn around and sell their stories to the post.who hasn’t Marvet slept with..she also claims ppl are her clients when they haven’t paid her a dime.

    Integrity? not one person in the industry has respect for her. that is why she cant keep a client.

  7. #7
    Elite Member
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Curt James's Avatar


    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    14,718
    Rep Points
    2147483647


    Tracy Morgan Apologizes to the LBGT Community

    He's well-known for his edgy antics -- Tina Fey even crafted the role of 30 Rock's "Tracy Jordan" around his personality -- but many agreed that Tracy Morgan went way over the line in June 2011 when, during a standup routine in Nashville, he went on a rant against gays, saying that if his son revealed himself to be homosexual he'd "pull out a knife and stab" the boy. Blasted by GLAAD and his 30 Rock coworkers Fey and Cheyenne Jackson, Morgan issued an apology, admitting that he'd gone too far and that the "jokes" weren't funny.

  8. #8
    - - - - - - -
    minimal's Avatar


    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    bout tree fiddy
    Posts
    1,022
    Rep Points
    80694232


  9. #9
    Metrosexual
    ELITE MEMBER
    DOMS's Avatar


    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    In a van, down by the river...
    Posts
    32,686
    Rep Points
    1862244849

    He's right to cry.

    The Giving Tree is a horrible, horrible story of co-dependence.


Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 32
    Last Post: 05-30-2011, 08:32 AM
  2. Tracy Morgan vs John Cena
    By Jarhed in forum Open Chat
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-18-2009, 12:45 AM
  3. Morgan: MLB dropped ball
    By min0 lee in forum Sports
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-06-2005, 03:09 PM
  4. Interesting sports commentary
    By irontime in forum Open Chat
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-29-2003, 01:35 AM
  5. Sports commentary bloopers ...
    By naturaltan in forum Open Chat
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-23-2002, 12:37 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
-->