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RUNNING TIME 60 minutes
• Deleted Footage
Tracy Morgan assaults your ears for an hour.
Tracy Morgan. Any Questions?
Emmy nominated comedian/actor Tracy Morgan – star of 30 Rock and a former cast regular on Saturday Night Live – stars in his first-ever HBO stand-up special, Black and Blue, an hour of adults-only humor told in the quirky, shocking, matter-of-fact style that has earned Morgan a place in the upper echelon of today’s most sought-after comedians. Taped before a live audience at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, the stand-up special will feature Morgan’s comedic takes on politics (including meeting President Obama), the differences between white and black culture, celebrities, our Founding Fathers, sex, superheroes and more.
The term “comedian” has a fairly broad definition. A comedian can be a funny actor who was nurtured in improv groups, coming up with sketches and developing characters. A comedian can be a stand up comic, suffering through years of open mic nights and drunk hecklers. On rare occasions, a comedian does all of these things. But even rarer is a comedian that can do all of these things well.
Tracy Morgan is a very funny actor. Some of his performances on Saturday Night Live are still side-splitting, and his years on 30 Rock as “Tracy Jordan” have been even funnier. But the real Tracy Morgan is not Tracy Jordan. And he seems intent on letting his audience know that.
The difference between a funny actor and a stand up comic is opinion. Audiences were taken aback when the lovable actor they know from 30 Rock was suddenly spouting his controversial opinions on stage. You may recall an incident in Nashville where Morgan stated that he would stab his own son if that son was gay. Morgan issued an apology for his remarks, stating that he doesn’t condone violence against others. He calls himself an “equal opportunity jokester”, dishing out jokes about everybody indiscriminately.
Perhaps Morgan really is sharing his honest opinions, or perhaps he’s just going for laughs. Whatever it is, it’s mostly not funny. Black and Blue, his first HBO stand-up special, is just that: mostly not funny.
Morgan begins his special with a great deal of fanfare and swagger, stepping out onto the Apollo stage in a velour jacket, satin shirt, and big smile. He does a few minutes of material about cocaine, which is a strong opener. He initially seems to be having fun on stage, with lots of physical jokes and funny facial expressions.
Near the sixteen minute mark, his material starts to get very mean-spirited. He suddenly seems to stop having so much fun as he begins to talk about white people and women. It gets rather ugly, but the audience seems to be eating it up.
In the show’s offensive finale, Tracy regales us with a false-premise joke about his first girlfriend. The joke (if you can call it that) quickly escalates, becoming more and more offensive until it reaches a grotesque climax, whereupon he describes the sexual activities she performed with her empty eye socket. Where’s your Brian Fellows now?
Look, you can’t deny that Tracy Morgan has an audience. I’m just not a member of that audience. I think he’s a very talented actor and improviser, but his personal opinions and observations are not breaking any new ground. This generation’s best stand up comics are baring their souls on stage, conducting symphonies of self-deprecation. They have strong, intelligent opinions and thoughtful observations. Tracy Morgan doesn’t have a single one in Black and Blue.
Black and Blue was shot on video, but the video quality is fairly nice. The only audio track is a Dolby stereo track, and it’s just fine. The only extra on the disc is about thirteen minutes of deleted bits from the special, and they’re actually some of Morgan’s funnier material. It’s a real shame some of these jokes weren’t included in the special.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars