Tracy Morgan apologized Friday morning for a homophobic rant he launched into during a June 3 show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.
"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville. I’m not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others," Morgan said in a statement. "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."
Morgan spoke out after organizations including GLAAD and the Human Rights Commission called for an apology or explanation.
During his June 3 show, the "30 Rock" and former "Saturday Night Live" actor had launched into a bit in which he called homosexuality a choice, said gays needed to stop complaining about bullying and promised that if his son were gay he'd better come home and talk like a man, or Dad would stab him to death.
That according to fan Kevin Rogers, who was at the Nashville show with his partner and a friend and had shared the comments -- much more raw than our version -- in a profanity-riddled Facebook post recounting details of Morgan's raunchy rant.
"I figured at some point the gay jokes would fly and I'm well prepared for a good ribbing of straight gay humor," wrote Rogers, who said he found most of the show hilarious, until Morgan went off -- in detail -- on why homosexuality was "crazy" and how President Obama should "man up" and stop speaking out on behalf of lesbian gay bisexual and transgender kids.
Rogers' observations got more notice when Truth Wins Out, an organization that fights anti-gay extremism, issued a release Wednesday calling for a response from Morgan.
The Ryman Auditorium told the Hollywood Reporter that it "regrets that people were offended by the show," and does not control or endorse statements made by performers on its stage.
LGBT civil-rights organization HRC issued a follow-up statement Friday praising Morgan for apologizing, but saying that those words weren't 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: no one should feel ashamed because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and they should definitely not become a victim of violence," 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."
So, should the audience have expected Morgan's rant? Perhaps the comic thought so.
"I think Nashville is hip, that's why I like playing it," he told the Tennessean newspaper in a June 2 article subtitled "What will Tracy Morgan say next?
"People get what I'm saying. They understand the words that are coming out of my mouth."
Hmm. Not so much?
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: Tracy Morgan arrives at the "Rio" movie premiere in Hollywood on April 10. Credit: Jason Redmond / Reuters