Tracy Morgan: Excuse My French

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

So here’s the problem. There’s only one reason Tracy Morgan can fill Melbourne’s 2,600-seat Hamer Hall twice in one night, and that’s 30 Rock: a sophisticated, endearing and witty sitcom.

But Morgan’s stand-up is none of those things.

This is an unpleasant, graphic, charmless 45-minute tirade – brevity being a rare redeeming feature – sharing his baser instincts in putrid detail, and very little humour.

‘Fucking women are crazy’ he tells us, with his advice to the fairer sex being both, ‘get yo’ ass in the fucking kitchen’ and ‘give that pussy up and stop this bullshit.’ For ‘bullshit’, he means ‘conversation’, I think, for as he taps his head, he warns the men: ‘Once a woman get in there, she live rent-free.’

Let us not assume he is discriminatory about ‘bitches’, though, as he shows no prejudice as to where he sticks his penis: Fat, thin, black, white, disabled – all women can be a receptacle for him. He is something of a vaginal connoisseur, sharing his informed reviews: ‘That pussy be burnt out’; ‘That crippled pussy stays wet’; ‘that pussy stink just a little bit’... there was something about the lubricating ‘discharge’ from a disabled woman too, but I was too busy gagging to write that line down verbatim.

Others were too busy walking out. Perhaps not that many, as a percentage, but when you’ve paid an eye-watering $70 a ticket - between two and three times the festival average - there’s a big financial incentive to sit it out. Why any woman would stump up so much to be talked about in such a way is a mystery; likewise why any man would want to hear his gender portrayed as such a irredeemably base way. If, in any other context, a stranger came up and started talking about all his sexual conquests so explicitly, assuming you share his view on women, you’d shuffle away pretty quickly.

Morgan says he’s ‘old school’; which might be better expressed as a pathetic dinosaur with ideas (and jokes) that the civilised world has left behind. His attitude is nothing to be proud of... yet that is exactly the tone of his unabashed diatribe. Aggressive, boastful, swaggering pride in being such a primal oaf. You might as well take pride in having a shit for all the influence you have over that behaviour.

‘I’m deviant, man,’ he confesses. But that’s as far as self-awareness goes. There’s no regret that he’s not a better man; no vulnerability that he’s powerless against his baser urges. He has the self-awareness of a pack of drunk footy fans at 3am.

Being pugnaciously crude can be hilarious, but this is show based more on revulsion than humour. Still, Morgan seems to count any reaction as a win. The biggest response was not a laugh; but a groan of disgust as he mimes parting the buttocks for anal sex.

Does his show have redeeming features? Well, amid the ancient, generic jokes he can occasionally deliver a line that has a brutal humour, and the relentless delivery pushes through laughs on force of performance alone. But there’s not much in the ‘pros’ column.

There is, of course, no reason to assume his stand-up would be anything like his TV character, whose urges are made sympathetic though the influence of a woman, Tina Fey, and the rest of the writers. But while in 30 Rock he is a spoilt outsized boy lost in his world of money and yes-men; as a stand-up, he’s just an distasteful, gold-plated jerk, appealing to his own.

Review date: 14 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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