In my last post I embedded a YouTube video of Michael Richards flipping out onstage during his standup routine. He went berserk on a guy who was heckling him, and resorted to shouting racial slurs.
The first few times I watched the video I thought that Richards had resorted to going into a bit in response to the heckling, but then realized that he had went too far. But then he showed up via satellite on the Letterman show and apologized for his behavior, which pretty much ended any confusion regarding his motives onstage. Here’s that apology:
First off, why the hell is he still using the word “Afro-Americans?” Didn’t we stop using that term in the seventies? On the “Opie and Anthony” radio show this morning, Anthony Cumia stated that saying “Afro-American” is basically one verbal step above saying “coloreds.” You can hear the crowd titter when he says it, because they’re not sure whether he’s being funny or not.
Second, just who the hell does Michael Richards think he is? He may or may not be a racist, I’m still confused about that, but does he really think that racial relations between blacks and whites hinges on something that Kramer has to say? Give me a fucking break. If his little tirade causes a race war then we’re in a lot worse shape than I thought.
Again, I’m still not sure if what happened onstage was racist or not. Sure, he used a racist term, but using a racist term does not a racist make. No, I’m thinking he’s just crazy. It seemed like in the midst of his anger he was intentionally trying to say the most offensive thing he could think of to scream at the guy, so he chose “nigger.” I think if it had been a woman he would have yelled “fucking cunt” or if it had been a Jew he would have yelled “filthy kike.” To me it seems like he was doing his level-best to escalate the situation as violently as he could, and to do so he used the verbal equivalent of the atomic bomb.
In any event, if his career wasn’t over before this, it surely is now. Mel Gibson may have the celeb-power to finagle his way back into our good graces, but I doubt Richards does.
Which is a shame, because I think he’s a really funny guy. I’ve been a Michael Richards fan for many years, well before “Seinfeld.” In fact, I put together a little compilation of the Michael Richards bits from two very funny movies you’ve probably never seen, “Transylvania 6-500” and “UHF.” Incidentally, my grandmother would hide these two movies from my cousins and me simply because she got tired of us watching them every weekend.
Brad, this one’s for you:
UPDATE: Wow, it looks like I was right.