Home » Max Comedy Special:  TRACY MORGAN: TAKIN’ IT TOO FAR | Review  

Max Comedy Special:  TRACY MORGAN: TAKIN’ IT TOO FAR | Review  

by Travlis Hallingquest
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Five years after HBO debuted on November 8, 1972, George Carlin’s monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” reached Home Box Office subscribers during a 1977 comedy hour special. These seven words (along with other expletives) were censored from television and radio broadcasts, for advertisers and the federal government deemed such words that were a regular part of Carlin and other entertainer’s repertoire as taboo. The lack of advertisements and HBO’s vision of being a superior network attracted visionaries who wanted a platform to make people laugh at all costs.  But can one take things too far?  Tracy Morgan’s 2023 Max special TAKIN’ IT TOO FAR, indeed goes far in brazenness, but not far enough in storytelling and delivery, in my opinion.

When Morgan takes the stage, he opens with the obligatory topics that most comedians have covered since 2020:  COVID-19 and the Will Smith Oscars controversy. Regarding the latter incident, Morgan introduces the audience to a bodyguard who will promptly annihilate anyone who dares to charge on stage. This humorous moment takes us into an hour of Morgan’s recollection of his midlife crisis. In 2014, the comedian Max_TraceyMorganStandup-Pic2was involved in a near-fatal New Jersey Turnpike accident. A van transporting Morgan and three other comedians was hit by a Walmart-owned semi-truck. One of the comedians was killed and Morgan was in a rehab center for nearly two months. The aftermath of the incident left Morgan with a substantial settlement from Walmart. The actor says his next-door neighbor is the CEO of Pepsi, and he welcomes her to have one of their trucks hit him. It is not uncommon for a comedian to use real tribulations in their stand-up. Richard Pryor famously made fun of his attempted suicide by fire in 1982. Morgan’s jest of his own misfortunes is touching and effectively hilarious. Yet, instead of capitalizing on the momentum of this segment of his routine, he spends numerous moments bragging about the wealth he accumulated from the accident.

Tracy’s health was fragile before the accident, for he suffers from diabetes. During TAKIN IT TOO FAR, he appears lethargic and simply out of material at times. Morgan is a seasoned comedian, and within four months of attempting stand-up, he was selected to appear on HBO’s DEF COMEDY JAM. Morgan drops this tidbit during his routine. I wanted this talented entertainer to expound on those days of performing alongside the likes of Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, and Chris Tucker.  Certainly, some gems are in there.  Instead, I felt as though TAKIN IT TO FAR was a pinata being hit with Morgan’s self-gratification, and the contents being spilled out were occasionally funny moments mixed with filler content.

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Morgan’s failed second marriage is a large portion of the special. When Morgan speaks about his divorce, he is visibly bothered. And who wouldn’t be after going through a near-death experience and rolling into COVID-19 after finally being able to perform stand-up again. Yet, unlike Eddie Murphy’s segment on marriage and divorce in HBO’s DELIRIOUS, Morgan speaks on the matter like a chatty random guy at a bar.  TAKIN IT TO FAR is not unbearable by any means, but HBO has featured far better routines, with Morgan’s DEF COMEDY JAM entries being a prime example.  Perhaps after Morgan’s frustrations have subsided, this talented comedian can get back to his roots of superb delivery and storytelling.

So, what do you think? Find Tracy Morgan: Takin’ It Too Far now streaming on Max. 

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2 comments

Sarah September 2, 2023 - 1:34 pm

You spelled Tracy wrong

Reply
Jef Dinsmore September 2, 2023 - 3:43 pm

You are so on the ball, but only in the title,not the body of the text. We thank you for that and it is corrected.

Reply

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