30 Rock actor Tracy Morgan has issued an apology to fans and the gay and lesbian community for an anti-gay rant during his weekend gig at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that has landed him in hot water.
“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.”
Nashville native Kevin Rogers, whose detailed account of the event on Facebook first grabbed media attention, spoke with EW earlier today and said he had gone to the show expecting a night of comedy, but left feeling “like the butt of the joke” after the 30 Rock actor launched into his tirade. “I can take a joke, but I absolutely did not expect a rant like this in the middle of a comedy act,” Rogers told EW via phone.
According to Rogers’ account, Morgan informed the audience “that the gays needed to quit being p—ies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying” and that “if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man…or he would pull out a knife and stab that little [n—–] to death.”
Rogers says before the rant, Morgan’s humor (specifically his comments about enjoying when women choke during oral sex) had proved too much for many audience members. But once Morgan launched into his anti-gay comments, more began to leave. Rogers said he stayed for the entire show. “I had to fight myself. I don’t really give in easily and I thought…if I stand up and leave, he wins. It shows him, ‘Hey, I got to you.’ He didn’t get to me. I wasn’t angry; I was just disappointed.I thought he was more intelligent than that,” he says.
GLAAD released a statement today calling for Morgan’s management to “investigate these allegations and should they prove true, we call on him 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.” Hours later, Morgan issued his apology.
A rep for Morgan’s 30 Rock boss, Tina Fey, a well known LGBT advocate, has not responded to a request for comment.
UPDATE: GLAAD released a statement this afternoon asking Morgan to “meet with family members who have lost children to anti-gay violence in order to help him understand exactly why his rant touched so deep a nerve.” “If Tracy Morgan is sincere, he should take us up on meeting these families who have lost loved ones to the type of violence that he is mocking. Perhaps by hearing their stories, he will learn that while we all love humor, this is no laughing matter,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrio.