The comic admits he "clearly went too far and was not funny in any context"

By Stephen M. Silverman
June 10, 2011 01:10 PM
Andrew H. Walker/Getty

No last laugh this time for Tracy Morgan.

After accusations that he delivered a homophobic rant at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that even caused the venue’s owners to distance themselves from what was said to an audience there last Friday, the 30 Rock actor, who plays the oafish Tracy Jordan on the NBC sitcom, has issued the following statement:

“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,” said Morgan, 42, reports

“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.”

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After Morgan’s performance in Nashville, an audience member named Kevin Rogers posted an essay on his Facebook page, titled, “Why I No Longer ‘Like’ Tracy Morgan.” (Warning: the essay contains strong language to describe what Rogers writes was said onstage by Morgan.)

After Rogers cited the comedian’s barrage of anti-gay remarks, Morgan was roundly condemned around the Web and by such groups as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

In 2009, Morgan was accused of making anti-gay comments as part of his comedy routine during a performance at Carnegie Hall, reported New York’s Daily News.

Ryman Auditorium’s statement said that the theater “regrets that people were offended by statements” delivered by Morgan, and noted it “does not control the content presented by people appearing on its stage, nor does it endorse any of the views of, or statements made by, such persons.”

But the incident may not yet be fully put to rest. In response to Morgan’s apology Friday, Fred Sainz, vice president for communications for the Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organization, said the comic should do more than simply say he’s sorry.

“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,” Sainz says in a statement. “Words have consequences and Morgan should be held to a higher standard. Until he does something meaningful, his brand will remain tarnished.”