What a difference a week makes for Tracy Morgan.
Just a few days ago, the “30 Rock” star seemed on the verge of ruin after making homophobic remarks in a stand-up comedy appearance in Nashville, Tenn, triggering various and sundry condemnations and apologies. In this space on Sunday, I wrung my hands so dramatically over the fate of his career you would have thought he’d deliberately driven a bus of disabled children off a steep cliff.
That said, I still think Morgan could have permanently destroyed his reputation had he played his cards wrong in the days after his ill-advised rant. It just so happened that the actor has handled himself so impeccably ever since that he should adorn the cover of crisis-management textbooks (should such a tome exist).
From the second this unfortunate story broke, Morgan has reacted so swiftly and emphatically to clean up the damage that once this is all over he may just end up grand marshal in whichever city hosts the next gay-pride parade.
He issued an apology immediately after the incident. He elaborated on the apology the following day in an interview with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons (why him I have no idea, but it allowed him to control the message). He agreed to participate in a GLAAD public-service announcement decrying anti-gay bullying and welcomed the opportunity to meet with victims of anti-gay violence in New York AND Nashville, the city where this powder-keg ignited.
Respected comedians as varied as Joan Rivers and Louis CK have issued impassioned defenses of his remarks. The man who brought Morgan’s comments to light on his Facebook page has even forgiven him as well.
Never mind that Morgan hasn’t actually explained WHY he made the comments he made; he or his reps realize that would only dig him in deeper doo-doo because no explanation would suffice. Short of encasing himself in a pinata and handing bats out to everyone in the Nashville auditorium where he first misspoke, there’s not much else he can do.
Maybe Morgan isn’t entirely out of the woods yet–all it takes is one more foot-in-mouth incident to land him back in the dog house. But the likes of Charlie Sheen and Anthony Weiner should watch Morgan in action. They could learn a thing or two about avoiding how to turn a mess into a total fiasco.