How are we still talking about the latest dumb thing to come out of Tracy Morgan's mouth? Because he wasn't kidding about getting you pregnant behind the dumpster, but stabbing a fictional son for being gay. And even more so because one gay fan's Facebook post reacting to Morgan got GLAAD up in arms, and even more so than that, because Morgan would like to keep his well-paying job on NBC's 30 Rock.
So after first meeting with homeless gay teens in New York City, Morgan ventured back to Nashville -- the scene of his so-called comedy crime -- to deliver a very public apology. With the gay fan in attendance. Roll the clip, courtesy of the AP:
Remember all the way back to a few nights ago, when TNT's Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley baited Tracy Morgan on live TV into a who'd-you-rather game between Tina Fey (Morgan's boss on 30 Rock) and Sarah Palin?
The game backfired on them when Morgan joked that Palin made for "great masturbation material," and TNT later apologized to its advertiser AutoTrader.com and any viewers of NBA basketball who may have been offended.
Well, Sarah Palin was on live TV last week, too, and told FOX News that President Obama's State of the Union speech had plenty of "WTF moments," and FOX News didn't have to apologize for that.
So on Sunday, E! invited Morgan on up the stairs of their red carpet perch to show that Giuliana Rancic has no idea what's going on, either in Morgan's life, inside his head, or in the headlines. She seemed totally off-guard when, just before leaving, Morgan leaned into the microphone and shouted that Sarah Palin was "the hottest MILF in the world!" Of course, that's Tracy being Tracy. And E! being E!, they not only put the clip online themselves, but even teased the MILF line in the description of its YouTube clip. E! Television: No apologies. Just try to keep up with the Kardashians and other bimbos.
I don't know if you can ever have too many stars on a benefit show, but Comedy Central certainly tries every two years on behalf of autism research with its Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education, which airs again tonight.
Much of the event taped earlier this month in NYC, although when it airs this evening, host Jon Stewart and a slew of celebrities will appear live in LA to answer the phones when you call in to make a donation. Viewers also will be able to vote, via texting, on celebrity stunts during the live portion of the broadcast. Comedians appearing and manning the phone bank include Jason Alexander, Mike Birbiglia, Julie Bowen, Drew Carey, Cedric the Entertainer, George Clooney, Bryan Cranston, Larry David, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin, Lauren Graham, Tom Hanks, John Hodgman, Rob Huebel, Penn Jillette, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Kimmel, B.J. Novak, Conan O’Brien, Jim Parsons, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Paul Scheer, Adam Scott, Bill Simmons, David Spade, Eric Stonestreet, Betty White, Larry Wilmore and Weird Al Yankovic.
As for the show itself, I saw it, so I can tell you what you may see, unless they decide to edit it out.
You may or may not see Tina Fey joke about wanting to say hi to her family, then realizing the show is airing on Thursday night, when 30 Rock is on, adding: "Who am I kidding, they're watching Shit My Dad Says on the DVR." Here she is with Stewart showing off her 2011 Tina Fey Swimsuit Calendar:
You may or may not see Ricky Gervais make the audience gasp with a DUI joke that also includes a rape! Here is joking about his history of charitable giving, including the time he was given the gift of a goat. An African goat. Roll it.
You may or may not see Tracy Morgan awkwardly work with Stewart through a sketch about how big his pockets were.
You may or may not see Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell sing a novelty song that's only about 19 months too late, including the re-appearance of Tay Zonday. If you were around 19 months ago, that name might make more sense. But probably not.
You may or may not see Jim Gaffigan kill with his new material about McDonald's.
Today seems like random day in my comedy mailbag. To wit:
And here's a video Angelo made for his project:
Scott Adsit is an actor (30 Rock, The Informant), an improvisational comedian with three regular shows at the UCB (Gravid Water, Let's Have A Ball, Adsit and Gausus) and a writer/producer/actor of animated comedy on Adult Swim (Morel Orel, and coming soon, Frankenhole). When he's not doing any of those things, though, you might find him reading a celebrity's ridiculous memoir in front of a live audience for the show Celebrity Autobiography.
The meta-celeb reading series normally happens at the Triad in NYC's Upper West Side, but will head into Times Square for a special event Wednesday at Carolines as part of the New York Comedy Festival. Adsit will join Eugene Pack, Kristen Johnston, Richard Kind, Carol Kane, Carson Kressley, Andrea Martin, Dayle Reyfel, Michael Urie, and Alan Zweibel in taking pages out of celebrity memoirs and exposing their silliness through the time-honored tradition of reading. I chatted with Adsit a little bit about the show, 30 Rock, why he's not on Twitter, Tracy Morgan's autobiography, and Adsit's latest Adult Swim project.
Having Jeff Dunham on 30 Rock last week made the show seem even more meta than ever! This season has been all about trying to appeal to a broader audience, hoping a new cast member will do the trick -- and you guys got 6 million viewers for that episode, or slightly more than the 5.3 million that Dunham got for his debut on Comedy Central. So, um, congrats?
"It's reflecting, I think what the writers are going through in a way, or in the past. I talked to Tina briefly about who we'd get for that. And she said the guy who could act it well enough. I dont think it was a stunt cast, but I guess if you're going to go with a ventriloquist, he's the most popular one out there. Is a ventriloquist ever stunt casting?"
Well, I am a McCarthy, so it's a touchy subject for me. Let's talk about Celebrity Autobiography. How'd you get involved with that show?
"About a year ago, maybe a little less. My friend (Rachel) Dratch was doing it, and she mentioned it to me."
Here's a clip from ABC's Nightline to give the overview of the show if readers need catching up before we resume. Roll it!
So. This weekend. Let's talk about it. Cold and rainy. Warm and sunny. Professional baseball players could not field bunts properly. Men with dark secrets got outed in a fictional version of the 1960s, where someone could die of lung cancer and the director says, "Cut to the guy smoking a cigarette!" Things happened, people. Jimmy Carr even told an offensive one-liner. It was that kind of weekend. Oh, wait. Some of those things happen every weekend? Well, maybe. But it seemed as though society was trying to make us feel sorry, sad or otherwise not very happy about comedy and comedians this weekend, and we had three major examples of such bouncing around the national conversation.
1) Let's start with the most visible transgression. Yes, we're looking at you, David Spade. Spade went on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show on Oct. 22 to make funny and help promote a show he's doing on Oct. 28 to help out the firefighters of Ventura County who have battled massive wildfires in Southern California. We even have the footage right here to show you:
What do you mean you haven't heard of this effort? Is it because of THIS?!
Yes. Spade cashed in on his dead friend's legacy by appearing in this DirecTV ad with the late Chris Farley, which has been airing quite a bit in the past few days during baseball and football games. I have yet to see any official statement from the Farleys (his brothers are in comedy, too, and wrote the book on his life) that said they thought this was a grand idea.
UPDATE: Asylum got quotes from Spade, through a spokesperson, followed by one from DirecTV: "When DIRECT TV came to me and the Farley family with this idea about 'Tommy Boy,' we talked and thought it would be a cool way to remind people just how funny Chris was. It is a clever homage to my friend and a movie that we loved doing, " he says. And from the company: "We should look to Chris' family and friends for the ultimate opinion on this subject. They were involved from the beginning of this project and felt that the spot was a great to tribute to Chris."
2) David Cross joked about doing cocaine, in public, at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner with President Barack Obama, the Secret Service, and various political heavyweights nearby. I don't know if this is a big ol balloon-boy hoax or not -- and the fact that Cross' instigator, Gavin McInnes, took down his post that claimed he instigated the matter by first doing cocaine in front of Cross at the DEA museum isn't helping matters. What we do know is that Cross joked about doing this. Politico filed a report after Cross' performance last week in D.C.
Want my take on it? Pretend you're playing Mad Libs, and just change up the scenario with this sentence: YOUR FAVORITE COMEDIAN did SOMETHING HIGHLY ILLEGAL AND MORALLY QUESTIONABLE in front of THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE WORLD, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU LIKE SAID PERSON OR NOT.
3) For all of the people who think Tracy Morgan's character on 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan, is really the same person, well, Morgan's promotional appearances for his memoir really is putting the kibosh on that. Gawker's tipsters said his book reading and appearance in NYC the other night was too much sad and not enough happy. And then there was Morgan's recent appearance on NPR's Fresh Air. There are plenty of people who love Terry Gross, but has she always said "um" that many times in 40 minutes? Or was she merely uncomfortable interviewing Morgan? Either way, this was an awkward session, and it all went out over the public radio airwaves. Enjoy?
This is Tracy Morgan's week, and we're all just living in it. Earlier this week, he hosted the VH1 Hip Honors for Def Jam Records in his native borough of Brooklyn. Tonight is the debut of the fourth season of NBC's 30 Rock, and it's also a few days before the release of Morgan's memoir, I Am The New Black. Gawker got its hands on an ad-lib reading from Morgan for the audiobook, in which he riffed his own revenge upon former SNL colleagues Chris Kattan and Cheri Oteri.
Time magazine just did its own "10 Questions" with Tracy Morgan, which you can watch. Watch!
It makes you wonder if Morgan is entertaining only when he's "crazy." Is that true? Watch this excerpt of Morgan talking about his book, and you'll see what I mean.
You can read the introduction to Tracy Morgan's I Am The New Black, too. Want to order a copy? The book comes out Oct. 20:
Sometimes the Internet gives you lemonade, and sometimes it gives you an Arnold Palmer. What's that, you say? Look, I cannot explain everything to you. That's Google's job. Or is it Bing? Whichever one will sponsor The Comic's Comic first, I say! Anyhow. Where was I? Oh, right. Tracy Morgan: Comedian, actor, mythical being.
Yesterday, the Internets told me about a site named Twacy that begged Tracy Morgan to join Twitter and share with us his insights in tiny 140-character-or-less bursts. And about two hours ago, while you were wondering if Twitter had frozen for good, we realized that Tracy Morgan had signed up for the service and been verified as such. So maybe the @RealTracyMorgan made Twitter stop in its tracks! Be careful what you wish for, because well, you may just get it. Which means this video is already outdated. Yay? Roll it anyhow! Roll it, I say!
Just when I thought we were starting the Just For Laughs comedy fest in Chicago (we are doing this today), the New York Comedy Festival named its headliners and increased partnership with Comedy Central for its sixth annual week of headliners in the Big Apple, this coming Nov. 4-8, 2009. Tickets won't even go on sale until August, but they've announced that Ricky Gervais will play Carnegie Hall. And in his official statement of such, Gervais said: "Headlining one of the most prestigious comedy festivals in the world is an amazing honor for me. The fact that it's at the beautiful and historic Carnegie Hall makes it all the more wonderful. It's just down the road from my apartment. I can walk to work. (I won’t walk obviously. I'll take a limo. But I could walk if I had to)."
Also headlining their own shows at the 2009 NYCF: Bill Maher and Tracy Morgan. More talent will be named later this summer. Produced by Carolines on Broadway and United Entertainment Group, the fest will put on shows at 10 venues around Manhattan with more than 150 comedians. Comedy Central had joined as a partner last year (filming a one-hour special in 2008 at the fest for Jo Koy), and this year appears to be aligning its tapings of the 2010 series of half-hour Comedy Central Presents as part of the fest. Those tapings will happen at John Jay College this year.
We could call this the week that everything old is new again. Because it is! In a good way? Let's see in the SNL recap...(videos added when available)
COLD OPEN: Tracy Morgan on video describing the energy from being in Rockefeller Plaza on a Saturday night. He came in 12 years ago as a puppy and left as a man! "This is my building! This is my home!" Cue the problems getting into back into his home. As someone who recently watched Morgan host a TV special, I can see why they didn't even attempt to do this live -- for one thing, the building has so much activity going on during the day that'd it be tough to shoot; and for another, Morgan's opening speech probably took a couple of takes. That said, it's not a political sketch! We already have established an early victory tonight, and this is before anyone has said, "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" OK. Where were we? In the NBC lobby/foyer/security area. Berserker! Tracy starts clobbering his way into the building, past security, past fans in the elevator, past the NBC page who's really SNL writer and humorous book author Simon Rich! But can he get past pro rassler John Cena? And...now we're live. Tina Fey cameo!?
Let's get this party started!
THE MONOLOGUE: "Thank you, white people!" Right off the bat, Morgan makes a so funny because it's true statement that reflects the surreality of the situation. In tonight's show, he'll likely appear in more sketches than he did during his seven-year run in the SNL cast! He clarifies his fish tank apartment fire, making fun of how the mainstream press portrayed his accident. Does this slideshow look ghetto? Morgan calls Lorne Michaels "my Obi-Wan Kenobi." Interesting to see both Michaels and Seth Meyers holding glasses of wine, because, well, isn't the show on the air right now? They just couldn't wait until 1 a.m., I suppose.
AD SPOOF -- CHEWABLE PAMPERS: They've recycled ads in past years, so it's not as if I can fault them for it now. Or can I? (No, I cannot) Stars Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis.
BRIAN FELLOW'S SAFARI PLANET: And one of Morgan's SNL characters gets first dibs tonight, with voiceover introduction from Darrell Hammond. Fellow's first guest is a baby cow (with Sudeikis as the calf's owner). Something about having live farm animals on live TV (and not on a talk-show with professional handlers) tends to led to unexpected funnies. A red-tailed halk (on Andy Samberg's arm) makes Fellow say his catchphrase: "That's crazy!" And some silly questions. Fellow gets distracted by imaginary conversations with animals. It all plays perhaps a bit funnier than before simply because Morgan has established such a reputation for crazy during his 30 Rock phase that we hear his line readings differently now. At least that's my first impression of it.
And how was your morning? For Tracy Morgan and others who live in his Manhattan apartment building, it was a fiery Wednesday morning as flames broke out in the 30 Rock star's apartment in Trump Place on the Upper West Side, and firefighters discovered it all started with a lamp attached to Morgan's fish tank. For reals. (thanks, Gawker) The sprinkler system activated and flooded some adjacent apartments, including that of his "TV wife" Sherri Shepherd. And she talked about it this morning on The View, and she was most worried about her wigs! So, in summation, a fire from a fish tank flooded apartments, but thankfully the fish and the wigs all survived. And people think these two are crazy? Wherever would you get that idea...
My friends at Videogum shared this short digital allegation earlier today, in which YouTube user juanjuan5768 claims that a 30 Rock plot is way too similar to an earlier episode of The Sarah Silverman Program that aired on Comedy Central. Watch:
My first thought: Meh. This literal take on a racial-facial face-off isn't anything new, from the groundbreaking work of "Black Like Me" to the what-were-they-thinking efforts of C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man and Shawn and Marlon Wayans in White Chicks. Who did it best? NBC's 30 Rock certainly goes for it more than Silverman's simpleton black clown look, although the latter's choice makes the outrage in her episode absurdist. But the correct answer is and always will be: Eddie Murphy in his "White Like Me" short film for Saturday Night Live.
Oh, Hello! Paramount Pictures announced today it'll make Freshman Roommates, a comedy movie starring Tracy Morgan and TJ Miller, and written by comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll -- based on the premise that one of the many scam e-mails from an African prince looking to inherit his wealth is, in fact, not a scam at all. Morgan will star as the son of a deposed African dictator, while Miller presumably plays the young man who answers the e-mail. (Variety)
Mulaney and Kroll, who met at Georgetown University and improvised together there, later established their comedy credentials together here in New York City with their UCB hit, "Oh, Hello!" and as panelists on VH1's Best Week Ever, as well as separately -- Mulaney as an impressive stand-up comedian (his first Comedy Central Presents debuts in the first weeks of 2009) and writer for Saturday Night Live; Kroll as an actor in sitcoms such as Worst Week and Cavemen, online in Rob Corddry's new Childrens' Hospital, voice work in Life & Times of Tim and the upcoming Sit Down, Shut Up, as well as the 2009 movie, I Love You Man.
The Comic's Comic contacted Mulaney and Kroll today and asked them very briefly to state why they pitched and sold Freshman Roommates before exploring an Oh, Hello! feature. They politely replied:
Tracy Morgan hosted Laffapalooza 2008, which airs tonight on TBS, but taped last weekend at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, with Sheryl Underwood, Earthquake, Corey Holcomb, Mark Curry and Lavell Crawford performing. They sat me in the front row, which made it difficult to take notes, though on the bright side, there's a fair chance you'll see me during the telecast. Here's what I can tell you:
Jamie Foxx started Laffapalooza in Atlanta a few years back, but he managed to show up in the audience at Caesars Palace for the taping (sadly, he did not perform). Foxx literally stopped the show when he and his entourage entered the ballroom. Audience members as well as Morgan shouted their approval for the Oscar-winning man behind the plans. Later during taping, Foxx's sister arrived from the other side with our own group of friends in tow.
Before taping even began, Morgan showed he was ready to go off the script (literally, as he had a teleprompter that beckoned him throughout to get back on message), but all in good fun. He welcomed Eva, third-season winner of America's Next Top Model, who sat up front with her boyfriend, Lance Gross from Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Morgan also had fun with the Vegas audience. "We're in a financial crisis, you're at the casino...trying to win your house back!" Morgan also had a Michelle Obama moment while the cameras presumably were not rolling, when he said that at 40 years old, "For the first time in my life, I'm proud to be an American." Morgan was talking not only about the fact that America had elected Barack Obama president, but also referenced how much the world has turned on America during the Bush Administration. Heady stuff for a guy who has a public image of being crazy and/or aloof.
For someone who has built his public persona and career comeback in show business around the notion that he's slightly crazy, Tracy Morgan offstage can be quite sincere. People love him on NBC's 30 Rock, he just headlined the Apollo Theatre earlier this month for the New York Comedy Festival and now hosted Laffapalooza for The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. Laffapalooza airs Saturday, Nov. 30 on TBS. I'll have more to say about the show tomorrow. In the meantime, watch this clip in which Morgan reflects on where his career and his comedy are at right now. Afterward, you all need to slow down and study!
Friend and fellow funny reporter winner Mandy Stadtmiller interviewed Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan, Joel McHale and Louis CK in advance of this week's New York Comedy Festival for the New York Post (an official fest media partner). In print, we only got a taste from each of the comics. Online, we get the full Q&As. And after the jump, I'll share my favorite tidbits from each interview.
One of my newspaper alma maters, the New York Daily News, devoted much of its Sunday features section to comedy, thanks in part to this week's New York Comedy Festival, but also to how much comedy has impacted politics this campaign season. There's a story from Caroline Waxler about how comedians might react to an Obama presidency, brief interviews with fest headliners Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan and Carlos Mencia, a profile roundup of the 11 finalists in the New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest, and a look-back at some quotes from Bernie Mac, who appears posthumously in the new movies Madagascar 2 and Soul Men.
Anyone who doubted whether TBS could or would pull together a full slate of A-level comedy talent for its first edition of The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas without HBO as a partner, well doubt no more. Over the weekend, TBS unveiled its first look at the official schedule for Nov. 20-22 at Caesars Palace, which includes Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Dane Cook, Katt Williams, Jim Breuer, Kids in the Hall, Russell Peters, Jim Norton, a roast of Cheech and Chong, David Alan Grier, Jeff Dunham, Laffapalooza hosted by Tracy Morgan, Andrew Dice Clay, Mike Epps, John Oliver, and Caliente Comedy with Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco and Anjelah Johnson. The network also says it'll have 25 up-and-coming stand-up and sketch acts performing in a separate LOL Lounge. Full sked after the jump!
With festivals on the brain, time to check in and see what TBS has in store for the 2008 version of The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, going it alone this November since HBO seemingly got out of the comedy confab business (still listed down low on the site as a sponsor, though). They'd already announced that Ellen DeGeneres would return with another variety TV broadcast at Caesars Palace, and now we see they're bringing Jerry Seinfeld back, too, with other headlining slots going to Mike Epps, David Alan Grier, Russell Peters, Andrew Dice Clay and Tracy Morgan. Tickets go on sale Sept. 26. More info to come...