Michael Richards racist rant

Nov 21, 2006 by Ian Evans

Michael Richards appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on Monday to apologize for a racist rant that occured during his stand-up act at LA’s Laugh Factory last Friday.

Richards, who played Kramer on Seinfeld, was hecked during his act. Richards yelled back at them, “Shut up! Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a f——— fork up your a—. You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now mother———. Throw his a— out. He’s a n——-!” He repeated the racial slur several times. A cellphone video shown on TMZ.com shows the audience reacting angrily and others getting up to leave.

Jerry Seinfeld said, “I am sick over this. I’m sure Michael is also sick over this horrible, horrible mistake. It is so extremely offensive. I feel terrible for all the people who have been hurt.” The comedian, who had an appearance on Letterman’s show to promote a new Seinfeld DVD had spoken to Richards earlier and asked if he could appear on the show to apologize.

He appeared via satellite on the show. Looking shell-shocked, he said, “For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I’m deeply, deeply sorry. I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this.”

When a few members of the studio audience could be heard laughing, Seinfeld admonished them, telling them to stop laughing because it wasn’t funny.

“I’m hearing your audience laugh, and I’m not even sure that this is where I should be addressing the situation,” said Richards as he went on to talk about racial tensions, conflict and Katrina.

Comedian Paul Rodriguez, a regular at the Laugh Factory, said he was shocked by Friday’s outburst. “Once the word comes out of your mouth and you don’t happen to be African-American, then you have a whole lot of explaining. Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations.” At a news conference held at the club, Rodriguez added, “I kept expecting a punch line. It didn’t come.”

Ironically, Jerry Seinfeld was also on Letterman to promote a book about the trials and tribulations of stand-up. Jerry wrote the book’s foreword. Several comedians have suggested Richards’ lack of stand-up experience added to the situation. Comedian George Lopez told TV station KTLA that “The question is you have an actor who is trying to be a comedian who doesn’t know what to do when an audience is disruptive. He’s an actor whose show has been off the air, he shouldn’t ever be on a stand-up gig.”