Temple tried something Saturday night.
Students were treated to a free performance by comedian Tracy Morgan. Of course, having free concerts and shows to give students something to do other than drinking is regular fare at most campuses. It didn’t go so well here.
After starting 40 minutes later than scheduled, Tracy Morgan received a warm welcome and gave the crowd more than a half hour of what everyone wanted. He was funny. Predictably lewd, but funny. Complaints for that are unwarranted.
The problem is that he didn’t stop there. Morgan’s show ended after 11 p.m., but his material ran out long before then.
He clumsily moved from one thought to another and fell into mimicking the physically and mentally handicapped, a move that began a slow exodus of perhaps as many as 200 members of the 3,100-person audience. Still, that is common, live stand-up comedy.
It was nothing new. But it got worse.
We cringed when Morgan, obviously unaware of the audience’s diversity and the image Temple promotes, mentioned, blinded by spotlights, that the audience was white. White because college isn’t a black thing to do. His assertion was met with some shouts to the contrary, but freshmen attending their first college event are surprisingly susceptible to suggestion, even if it comes from B-list sketch comedians.
What is worse is that once he finished his set and began bantering, Morgan offered frequent encouragement for getting drunk after his performance.
Troubling to be sure, but we wonder how surprising this all should have been coming from Morgan, who has been arrested twice for drunk driving in the past two years. A fact he didn’t fail to mention during his performance.
Morgan was paid thousands of dollars to be there on Saturday night, clearly money spent to quell underage drinking. Morgan went far to make the plan unsuccessful. We admire Temple’s bolder attempt at fighting alcohol-related hospital runs, but we think it misplaced.
Here’s a solution to student drinking that will help another persistent Philadelphia worry: SEPTA funding. Use the money paid for Morgan to buy subway tokens and send students somewhere. We love when Student Activities offers cheap Sixers tickets or shots at seeing performances at the Kimmel Center. A night on the town for students under 21 will largely mean a night without binge drinking. Temple, now more than ever, Philadelphia is the greatest asset you have.
This city is coming back. You can’t just give out diplomas anymore. Temple alumni should leave this school with a degree, in addition to a favorite steak place and a Phillies hat. Let students find Tracy Morgan at Helium or the Laff House.
That way you don’t get the complaints, but all the benefits.