Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 20, 2011)
Although the old saying claims there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the old saying’s wrong. Just ask Mel Gibson and Michael Richards; when word of their bigoted rants took flight, their careers took massive hits.
As of mid-July 2011, comedian Tracy Morgan remains embroiled in controversy due to anti-gay comments he made during a recent stand-up appearance. It remains to be seen what – if any – long-term career impact he’ll experience, but in the short-term, Morgan’s antics appear likely to have one positive effect: he should move more copies of this live DVD called Black and Blue.
Shot at New York’s Apollo Theater in September 2010, Blue gives Morgan the opportunity to touch on a variety of subjects. He gets into his growing career, aging and health, cultural and generational differences, sex and drugs, relationships, President Obama and politics, terrorism and travel, sensitivity, and a few other topics.
All controversies aside, I like Morgan as a comic actor and enjoy his work on 30 Rock. He was more hit or miss on SNL, but I think he does have talent.
Little of which shows up in this stale, unfunny stand-up routine. There was once an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer watched an African-American comedian. The segment we/Homer viewed offered trite comparisons between whites and blacks, with an emphasis on how each race drives a car.
Though he expands beyond racial topics, that’s a nutshell take on Blue. The majority of the program offers Morgan’s observations on the subjects I mentioned above, but they rarely go beyond the simple “black guys drive a car like this” territory lampooned on The Simpsons. Morgan’s humor stays firmly on the surface and never digs any deeper. He throws out simplistic, profanity-laden thoughts that lack any real bite or cleverness.
Indeed, the profanity feels like it’s there as a crutch. I’m not anti-profanity at all, but Morgan ladles on the language for no apparent reason other than to connote “I’m a black comic from the streets so this is how I’m supposed to talk”. The profanity doesn’t offend; instead, it bores and distracts from Morgan’s jokes.
Or it would if Morgan had any good jokes. I can honestly say I didn’t laugh once during Morgan’s tired routine. In fact, I’m not sure I ever cracked a smile, and I wanted to do so; like I mentioned, I like the guy and hoped he’d be fun as a stand-up.
If Morgan has talent as a stage comedian, he doesn’t show it in Black and Blue. Based on the evidence here, he should keep his day job on 30 Rock.
By the way, some of the material here foreshadows Morgan’s recent troubles. He shows antagonism toward the gay community, as he seems to view them as humorless; he declares that “if you can take a dick, you can take a joke”. Morgan also refers to Gibson’s controversies, though I doubt he realized that they’d both soon belong to the same club.