Tracy Morgan says he’s sorry for telling an audience at a June 3 comedy show that he’d "pull out a knife and stab" his son if he were gay.
"I want to apologize to my fans and the gay & lesbian community for my choice of words at my recent stand-up act in Nashville," he tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
"I'm not a hateful person and don’t condone any kind of violence against others. While I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context," added Morgan.
The comments are just now coming to light because they were posted on nonprofit Truth Wins Out's Web site on June 8 -- almost a week after an audience member, Kevin Rogers, wrote about the show on Facebook.
Rogers titled his Facebook post "Why I No Longer 'Like' Tracy Morgan -- A Must Read," and wrote that he'd been a big fan of the comic since he was a cast member on "Saturday Night Live." Rogers, who is gay, wrote that he was prepared for "a good ribbing of straight gay humor" but was surprised at what he claims the "30 Rock" star said onstage.
According to Rogers, Morgan, "said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. ... Tracy then said he didn't [expletive] care if he [angered] some gays."
Morgan's tirade was full of homophobic references and expletives, according to Rogers' Facebook account.
Rogers was convinced that "none of this rant was a joke. His entire demeanor changed during that portion of the night. He was truly filled with some hate towards us."
He added that about 10-15 people walked out of the Ryman Auditorium, but he forced himself to stay put because "I knew if I got up ... he won… I'm not angry ... just very very, very disappointed."
A rep for Ryman Auditorium tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement: "The Ryman Auditorium regrets that people were offended by statements made by Tracy Morgan during his June 3 appearance. The Ryman does not control the content presented by people appearing on its stage, nor does it endorse any of the views of, or statements made by, such persons.”
GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios told THR, "Tracy Morgan's management needs to investigate these allegations and should they prove true, we call on him to remove these violently anti-gay remarks from his show and send a strong message that anti-gay violence is not something to joke about."
Truth Wins Out director of social media Evan Hurst is calling on Morgan to address the allegations.
“Tracy Morgan needs to respond to these allegations," he wrote on the group's Web site. "Comedians have long pushed the envelope in tackling controversial subjects. Indeed, it’s part of their job description, and good comedians are able to do this and keep everybody laughing at the same time. However, abject hatred directed at vulnerable kids is not comedy, by anyone’s definition. If these reports are true, we expect a full explanation and apology.”
It wouldn't be the first time Morgan has drawn fire for his comments. In January, TNT issued an apology after Morgan made lewd comments about Sarah Palin on a live Inside the NBA broadcast.
At a New York show two years ago, Morgan reportedly made a comment that being gay is a "choice," prompting several people to walk out, according to the Advocate.
Meanwhile, "Tracy Morgan" became a trending topic on Twitter on Thursday night and into Friday morning as news of the post spread. Most people took a decidedly anti-Morgan stance.
"Dear Tracy Morgan, @CharlieSheen was fired for his off set behavior and the same rule should apply to you!" read one.