April 16, 2008

"Who Said 'Eww?" Grow Up!"

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“Ya’ll think I come to the college just to do comedy?” Tracy Morgan asked the audience in Bailey Hall on Sunday. Morgan’s much anticipated appearance was certainly not what we had expected. While Tracy’s characters, including Astronaut Jones, Tracy Jordan and Brian Fellows, have always subtly and lovably tackled issues of race and sex, Sunday’s racial slurs and overtly vulgar quips were somewhat surprising.
In light of Morgan’s successes on SNL and 30 Rock, it’s easy to forget that Morgan has a long history of stand-up comedy. The lines between his characters and the typecast actor behind them are frequently blurred. This Tracy Morgan did not don any lip-gloss, tackle goats or pack up his suitcase, but he did bring his own individual brand of comedy.
Within moments of his arrival on stage, Tracy highlighted the challenges of being a black comedian performing for a nearly all-white audience. Though the audience appeared to be as diverse as one would expect any other Cornell-sponsored event to be, this failed to deter Morgan from feeling as though he were “about to get indicted.” It seemed likely that he had planned on making many of these racially charged comments beforehand, in anticipation of addressing a more homogenous crowd. Furthermore, the uproarious laughter from the audience suggested that such jokes are merely a safe bet; humorous but ultimately lacking the creativity we would expect from such an experienced comedian.
Morgan sought to shock the audience with sexual vulgarity meant to border on outlandish but largely falling within the bounds of what we’ve all heard before. However, no matter how often he reverted to singing the praises of “eating pussy” and “getting [his] dick sucked,” the audience, ourselves included, ate it up (and sucked it dry).
At times, however, Tracy interrupted his own foul-mouthed oration and seemed to transform into a concerned parent, reminding us all that he’s “too old to take it from the window to the wall.” While one moment he advised us to “go commit a murder” or “get high, fuck … and sometimes study,” in the next he’d recommend we “stay away from alcohol and shit — just have sex.” Although he appeared conflicted on most issues, he was certain to emphasize the importance of having sex (many, many times) and most importantly, enjoying one’s youth.
It seems as though the art is in the delivery for Morgan, allowing him to elicit similar reactions from audiences whether he’s discussing his “hernia balls” or insisting that he is, in fact Brian Fellows. Anyone fortunate enough to have caught the “Christmastime is Here!” sketch on SNL has witnessed that humor somehow emanates from Tracy himself, even if he’s simply standing on stage and bobbing his head silently. This seems true of all his beloved characters; simple and often unoriginal in concept but both humorous and fresh when delivered by this truly talented comedian.
All in all, though we were mildly disappointed that his performance lacked nearly any similarity to the typical sweet and bewildered Tracy Morgan characters we’ve grown to love and expect, the comedy was never lacking, and we were always laughing.