Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Actor apologizes for racial tirade

November 21, 2006

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— Michael Richards said Monday he spewed racial epithets during a stand-up comedy routine because he lost his cool while being heckled and not because he's a bigot.

"For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," the former "Seinfeld" co-star said during a satellite appearance for David Letterman's "Late Show" in New York.

"I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this," Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself. A clip from the show played on CBS before the "Late Show" aired Monday night.

Richards described himself as going into "a rage" over the two audience members who interrupted his act Friday at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood. Richards responded to the black hecklers with repeated use of the "n word" and profanities.

Jerry Seinfeld, who had issued a statement saying he was "sick over this horrible, horrible mistake" and calling it offensive, was scheduled as a Letterman guest Monday. He encouraged Richards to make a satellite appearance to talk about the incident, a CBS publicist said.

Richards deserved the chance to apologize, Seinfeld said on the "Late Show." Seinfeld said, "He's someone that I love, and I know how shattered he is about" the incident.

At one point, however, Richards grew flustered and expressed second thoughts about appearing on the "Late Show" when his use of the term "Afro-American" proved funny to some audience members. "I'm hearing your audience laugh, and I'm not even sure that this is where I should be addressing the situation," he said.

Michael Richards arrives to celebrate the release of the first three seasons of the "Seinfeld" on DVD in this Nov. 17, 2004, photo from New York. Richards, who played Cosmo Kramer on the show, stunned a comedy club audience in West Hollywood on Friday, shouting racial epithets at people who heckled him during a standup routine, according to the Web site TMZ.com. He apologized on Monday.

Michael Richards arrives to celebrate the release of the first three seasons of the "Seinfeld" on DVD in this Nov. 17, 2004, photo from New York. Richards, who played Cosmo Kramer on the show, stunned a comedy club audience in West Hollywood on Friday, shouting racial epithets at people who heckled him during a standup routine, according to the Web site TMZ.com. He apologized on Monday.

Richards, 57, who played Seinfeld's eccentric neighbor Kramer on the hit 1989-98 sitcom and whose major credit since was a failed 2000 comedy, hadn't spoken publicly about his remarks before "Late Show."

Shocking performance

His onstage remarks were condemned by industry colleagues.

Comedian Paul Rodriguez, who was at the Laugh Factory during Richards' performance, said he was shocked.

"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," Rodriguez told CNN. "Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations."

His Laugh Factory tirade began after the two clubgoers shouted at him that he wasn't funny. Video of the incident was posted on TMZ.com.

Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--."

He then paced across the stage taunting the men for interrupting his show, peppering his speech with racial slurs and profanities.

"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother------. Throw his a-- out. He's a n-----!" Richards shouts before repeating the racial epithet over and over again.

Moderating his tone at one point, Richards tells the audience, "It shocks you, it shocks you" and refers to "what lays buried."

While there is some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping "Oh my God" and people respond with "ooh" after Richards uses the n-word.

Eventually someone calls out: "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. 'Seinfeld,' that's it."

"Oh, I guess you got me there," Richards said before dropping his microphone and stalking off the stage.

Club's response

On Monday, about a half-dozen community activists gathered at the club to denounce Richards' remarks and demand an apology.

"These kind of comments hurt all of us," said protester Lita Sister Herron of the Youth Advocacy Coalition. She called Richards' comments hate speech.

The protesters also demanded an apology from the Laugh Factory. At a news conference a short time later, club owner Jamie Masada expressed remorse and said Richards will not return until he says he's sorry.

"This is one thing we don't tolerate. ... I personally apologize. I apologize from my heart," Masada said Monday.

Richards did appear at the club Saturday, without incident, but that was because he had told the club he intended to apologize, according to a Laugh Factory statement Monday.

Daryl Pitts, a Laugh Factory audience member interviewed by CNN, compared the incident to another recent celebrity controversy.

"You think about Mel Gibson and what he said, and put that in the context of this, it's very upsetting," Pitts said, referring to Gibson's anti-Semitic outburst during his arrest for drunken driving.

Comments

geekin_topekan 8 years, 5 months ago

Well isn't that ironic! Or Maybe Charles Belone could say "I am not a woman beater,thats what's so insane about this!".

wordsofwisdom 8 years, 5 months ago

"I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this," Richards said, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself.

What he really means is --I'm pissed that I couldn't control my anger and I let my true feelings out in public..

bankboy119 8 years, 5 months ago

I completely believe it. Same thing has happened to me...not at a gas station per se but it's happened. The best answer I've heard is that it's "our" word and if the white man says it it's to keep "us" down. Apparently they don't need any help in keeping themselves down.

RustyShackleford 8 years, 5 months ago

Wow, I've seen Robert Byrd thrown into some odd ones, but for Jeebus sake! Isn't there a Democrat from the 1840's that applies too? I'll bet rightthinker does yoga, because he can sure stretch things.

heysoos 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm with scenebooster. I don't buy it. Nor do I buy bankboy's tale. Now I'm just waiting to hear right_thinker say that he once sat down with Russell Simmons and had a very philosophical discussion about comics' use of the n-word and 'cracker.'

"Yeah man, Simmons agreed with me that everyone should be 'outraged' by the use of these racist words."--rt

Just curious, what did you mean when you said, "an audience like that?"

heysoos 8 years, 5 months ago

So then why does it matter what color the performer is?

You got caught being a racist arsehole!! Busted!

countrygirl 8 years, 5 months ago

Why do people think that just because they paid to see a show that gives them the right to disrupt the show? What about the other people who also paid their admission and want to watch the performer--not some heckler? Club management should have escourted the hecklers out immediately, and that should have happened no matter what their race/color.

Leprechaunking13 8 years, 5 months ago

Couranna are you really offended if someone else calls you a mick, you are a mick deal with it or dont use the word yourself. At one point the Irish were considered worse people in the community than blacks or indians. Even when JFK was elected President, Headlines in the papers said now that the Irish have someone in the whitehouse they're ALMOST white. Every race of people have been put down, run over, enslaved, tortured. These "words" that create so much tension and tip toeing by everyone that it's lost in the fact that they are just that, words.

BOE 8 years, 5 months ago

I've heard Jesse Jackson has several fine org's that Richards could donate (heavily) to. Might just be the ticket for helping improve the standing of loveable, but irreverent hipster dufusi.

Fruit for thought Michael. ;)

Tychoman 8 years, 5 months ago

Culture Warrior that show is funny and the word "cracker" isn't used specifically against a white person (just implied as far as I've noticed). It's a lousy show, but fun to watch anyway.

Michael Richards was never funny on "Seinfeld" (possibly one of the most overrated, worst shows in TV history) and definitely not funny now.

Leprechaunking13 8 years, 5 months ago

React to being called something that you are and should be proud of? Couranna have some pride in it, ESPECIALLY if you are from Ireland, why does it matter if someone else calls you a mick, or a paddy. I don't care, I get called it all the time, I take pride it "yeah your right I AM!" If every race did this than any words people used as derogatory wouldn't have any meaning in them except the one you put into yourself. Yes, thank you Marion, he got slack for being Catholic yes, but being catholic has nothing to do with headlines in the US saying that the Irish were "almost" white. You go back further 50 years or so, there were many signs that said No blacks, No dogs, and NO IRISH in many shops many people considered the Irish in America lower than anyone even dogs.

Crispian Paul 8 years, 5 months ago

Right thinker says: So, from then on, I knew there were "two" DeWaynes, one for whites and one for blacks.

OK, first of all, when a minority person grows up in a society dominated by one cultural group, there exists in them a phenomenon called "biculturalism". This is a very commonly identified term in social sciences. Perhaps the DeWayne you saw with his black friends was the real DeWayne and the "White" DeWayne was the front that he felt socially obligated to put on so that white people, specifically, would not be scared, distrustful or worried about him. Perhaps he chose to not use his regular vernacular because he knew to do so in the company of predominantly white people would simply allow them to continue to believe stereotypes that Black Americans are not articulate, smart, etc. Strangely, I am predominantly white but grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood. I find that I talk differently around my friends (White or Black) than I do in the work or professional setting.

The term n***er is not acceptable to mane black Americans, so to make that assumption is incorrect. However, for those that choose to use the word, there is a historical background to it. The word was "taken back" during the 1960's because people thought that it is hurtful when said in a particular context and by people who historically have had more power as a group. So if a black person says the word and they are OK with it, this is different because historically, we know that there were only a very, very, very small amount of slaves owned by non-whites in this country. There is a different historical context to it. It is similar to the term "queer" being adopted by the gay journalism movement in the 960's. They decided if you decide to disparage me with this word, then I will take it and apply something that I see as non-disparaging to it.

If someone says something like this in public, I guess we could think of it in terms of how DL Hughley states it in Kings of Comedy "I'd rather someone be racist out in the open" and if "you know how many black people have been in your house, you racist like a motherf***er."

estespark 8 years, 5 months ago

If there's legal action...will Jackie Chiles represent Michael Richards?

Leprechaunking13 8 years, 5 months ago

There ain't nothin wrong with spuds! Only the Lumper, when used by every farmer in Eire`.

Centrist 8 years, 5 months ago

Weird...

My wife calls me a jackass all the time, but I certainly don't use it on myself.

Enough is enough.

"Kramer" should have abused those guys by being FUNNY ie putting them down in a non-racial way, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.

However, those guys were a-holes for messing up his show.

Why were they even there???

Tychoman 8 years, 5 months ago

No, really thinker, it was a crappy show. In the several episodes I've tried sitting through, I've laughed a grand total of three times. My roommate (who is a huge fan) and I are keeping track because I refuse to believe it's actually a good show. Haha. See? Make that four. I just watched the one where Jerry couldn't remember the chick's name that rhymed with a female body part. Turns out it was Delores. I cracked a smile. Just for you.

Jerry and Elaine were cool I guess but I hate with a passion George and Kramer. George is a moron and ___ (can't say it here) and Kramer is just an idiot. The third time I laughed was when he spilled a barrel of paint thinner across a highway and Wayne Knight's van exploded. That was nice.

Kathy Getto 8 years, 5 months ago

"Why? Because you wouldn't have guts enough to have that conversation?"

This very comment is racist on its face.

Fatty_McButterpants 8 years, 5 months ago

Have you ever noticed how, when white people want to compliment a black person, they say, "S/he was very intelligent and well-spoken"? Yep, they could speak so they must be a good person...

Fatty_McButterpants 8 years, 5 months ago

Have you ever noticed how our nation has allowed the wrongdoings of our forefathers to shame us into accepting reverse bigotry as "ok"? If you don't believe me, try making a movie called "Black Chicks" and have two white guys disguise themselves as black women ala the Wayan's brothers...

dont_panic 8 years, 5 months ago

... well, to your "reverse bigotry" post anyway.

Confrontation 8 years, 5 months ago

To remove those audience members would have caused a race card moment. They couldn't have been removed due to being rude and highly obnoxious. No, it would have been attributed to the color of their skin. I know there's a history of minorities being removed from businesses due to their skin color. However, I don't understand why personal behavior is overlooked so no one is offended. At some point, you have to own up to the fact that you are a complete jacka$$, regardless of your skin color. That being said, Richards is an idiot.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 5 months ago

I guess it does take a certain amount of courage for a white man to approach two young black men that he doesn't know and who don't know him...just as it would take courage for a black man to approach two young white men that he doesn't know and don't know him...

I don't doubt Marion's story, though. I have heard young black people call each other the most horrific things.

As for someone asking questions like that, and people answering them truthfully, honestly, and thinking about it afterward...yeah, it happens.

I once had a college professor, the father of a friend of mine, who knew I was dirt poor as a child, ask me if the terms "poor white trash" and "trailer trash" offended me, and if so, why.

Well, it's pretty much the same thing. The people I grew up with who were also poor referred to themselves sometimes by those terms. But they didn't take kindly to someone else calling them that. Why? Because the people who usually used them were doing so in a derogatory way.

I don't agree with Richards using those words. I don't blame him for being angry at hecklers, but he should have been able to retain his composure and ignore it, as many, many other performers before him have done.

I agree with the person here who asked why the hecklers were allowed to stay there, and I agree with that, too. If someone is causing a disruption in a club, during someone's act, they should be escorted outside. Their behavior wasn't acceptable, either. If they didn't think the man was funny, they were perfectly free to state that opinion after the show was over. They didn't have the right to interrupt a performance that other people had paid to see as well. It wasn't very nice.

I don't know about the "cracker" comments, as I haven't watched the show. I remember in the 70s, though, how George Jefferson used to refer to whites as "honkies" frequently, and this was supposed to be funny.

Tychoman 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for another "I know more than you do about absolutely everything" post, Marion. Is there anything you CAN'T do?

sublime 8 years, 5 months ago

The "n" word is a very ugly word.So is the "c" word.(cracker)Black people throw that word around all the time.I think in all fairness,people should be just as outraged by the"c" word as they are the"n" word.

sublime 8 years, 5 months ago

How many time have you heard Chris Rock use the word cracker???No one seems to get in a twist over that.Chris Rock is a racist ,just as much as Micheal Richards is.Most white people are so scared of black people they won't even defend thier own race.White people deserve the same respect that black people do.Of course I don't see that happaning any time soon.When was the last time you have heard of anyone getting a severe beating because they used the "c" word???

Tychoman 8 years, 5 months ago

Posted by Pilgrim (anonymous) on November 22, 2006 at 4:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Posted by Tychoman (anonymous) on November 22, 2006 at 1:07 a.m.

Thanks for another "I know more than you do about absolutely everything" post, Marion.


Coming from someone who helps him qualify in that category without even trying, that's funny.

======================================== Coming from someone who's possibly a direct descendant of Cotton Mather...classy.

Kathy Getto 8 years, 5 months ago

Tycho:

LMAO - that was a good one. Thanks for the laugh.

Navin_R_Johnson 8 years, 5 months ago

holy Lord,

you gotta be kiddin me!

he's a racist, she's a bigot, they's gender insensitive, y'all all's culturally retarded.

gi' me a break, if this is news and you think you AIN'T a racist, then you probly ought get on back to the trailer park, cause the major media and sensitivity hustlers is waitin for ya to tune in!

i forgot the constitution tells us now that one is now barred from being insensitive; and that any group that's actively competing to be seen as more pathetic than another (aka. "a persecuted minority"), can't be insulted any longer.

grow-up, turn off the dam tv and read a book for chrissakes!

the guy who was hecklin' should a called him some jewish slur, then they'd be even. if that didn't work, well, duke it out and see who's group's virtue would remain defended that evening.

nooooooooooooo, get it on tv, promote your comedy club, make sacrifice to the god of political correctness, and continue feeding pooh to the already mushy brains of modern tv watchin americana.

grow the hell up america.

cowgomoo 8 years, 5 months ago

This reminds me for some reason of the Diversity episode of the Office when Oscar refers to himself as a "Mexican" and Michael Scott asks him if he would use a less offensive word.

cowgomoo 8 years, 5 months ago

Agnostick: Shrute's smarmy smile in response to Michael's comment on Angela was too hysterical! Thanks for the clip.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

I watched the uncensored video of Michael Richards' rage last night.

This video reaveals that Michael Richards is filled with hatred of black people, to the point that he visions their torture and humiliation.

Millionaire, priviliged, Richards now apologizes for having his racism exposed by his own rage by blaming Bush.

Of course, as with everything else that is wrong in the universe of Liberals-in-America, Richards reveals that he would not have been pushed to the edge of this shameful outburst if it were not for the mishandling of Katrina by the Bush administration.

Richards' ugly, vitriolic. anti-Negro outburst was, after all, Bush's fault.

Michael Richards, media icon, epitome of the coolness of liberal media, is a closet racist, and a lame excuse for a human being.

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