Photo Credit: NBC
Remember waaay back in June, when Tracy Morgan offended the gay and lesbian community with some ugly, homophobic remarks during a comedy club stand-up routine? Well, the incident is back in the headlines again, thanks to his show's boundary-pushing writers. Last night's episode of 30 Rock (Thursdays, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC) turned the real-life incident into a storyline for Morgan's character, Tracy Jordan. Watch the clip here:
In real life, after the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) learned about Morgan's remarks -- he told his audience that if his son were gay he'd "pull out a knife and stab that little n**ger to death" -- the organization released a statement that called on the comedian "to remove these violently anti-gay remarks from his show and send a strong message that anti-gay violence is not something to joke about."
Morgan responded with a swift and public apology to GLAAD. Tina Fey followed up with a cleverly written statement that defended her castmate while condemning his remarks.
In the episode spoofing the flap, the knuckle-headed, fictional Tracy mistakenly apologizes to Glad trash bags instead of GLAAD. He also gets an earful from Liz Lemon. "Why did you have to offend the gay community?" she asks. "They are the most organized of all the communities! They make the Japanese look like the Greeks!"
The joke is cleverly double-edged. It implies that while his remarks were abhorrent, Jordan's character is the kind of guy who might easily offend any number of communities (and that his biggest mistake was to antagonize such a powerful one). In fact, 30 Rock itself is an equal-opportunity offender. Consider how the show portrays its evangelical character: He's the simple-minded hick, Kenneth (Jack McBrayer).
But the joke is followed a few beats later by a straight line: "The dumb things you say may influence or hurt people," Fey says, seriously. "You have to apologize."
Though the writers are bold enough to satirize the incident, they are also smart enough to tread lightly. Indeed, some of them are gay themselves. In her statement back in June, Fey referred to Morgan's gay and lesbian coworkers at 30 Rock, "without whom Tracy would not have lines to say."
Alec Baldwin explained the spoof this way: "Tracy Morgan, as a true, edgy comic, has said some things that weren't always taken the right way," he said during an NBC interview. "So now we have Tracy Jordan, his character, saying things that are probably ill-advised and getting him into trouble."
He didn't mention whether or not we'll be seeing his character, Jack Donaghy, getting thrown off a plane for playing Words With Friends. Then again, that incident has already been spoofed on Saturday Night Live.