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Nov 21st 2006

VIDEO: michael richards (seinfeld’s “kramer”) loses it

**UPDATE** CBS has posted the full video clip of richards’ late show apology on its page of archived video. this after repeated submissions to youtube were removed at CBS’ request.

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to be fair, the video only depicts (what appears to be) richards’ overblown reaction to some hecklers. who knows how bad the taunting was? but whatever the case, richards should have handled it differently.

the video, apparently captured by an audience member on a cell phone camcorder, begins with richards at the peak of his anger. he has clearly lost control of himself. he is in a rage not only because of the humiliation of being heckled, but because he was unprepared to respond. as a very likeable television star, he has probably been immune from this type of treatment in the past.

well, sparks flew, and the former seinfeld character’s comedy act quickly degenerated into a contest to see who was stupider, richards or his hecklers.

he starts by implying if it were 50 years ago, the hecklers would have been lynched by now. then he pulls out the n-word. several times. then the m-f word (first directed at the hecklers, then at the whole audience). the hecklers, seeing their chance to take the moral high ground, call richards’ insults “uncalled for.” but then they slip a little from the moral high ground, as one adds something to the effect of “that was uncalled for you cracker-a** motherf*****.”

the unbelievable clip ends with richards being insulted for his lack of success post-seinfeld. people begin streaming out of the club. richards walks off.

these kinds of politically-incorrect responses to heckling are not new. as one commenter under the youtube video noted:

Many establishments actually have rules against hecklers for this very reason….look at bill hicks. He told a jewish heckler something to the effect of I wish hitler had finished his job.

the video is unpleasant to watch, but at the same time, it is very compelling. i think it is significant for several reasons:

(1) while we saw a very public, racist rant of unbelievable proportions, the audience pretty much reacted with disgust. that is awesome to see. it gives me confidence in how far our society as a whole has come in race relations, and that the foundations are laid so that we will never go too far backwards again. the insults richards shouted were treated first with shocked silence. then the audience abandoned him en masse.

(2) we saw a successful, professional, multi-millionaire entertainer taken down by two dumb hecklers, one of whom pronounced seinfeld “seinfield.” in my opinion, both parties were in a race to the bottom, but richards had so much more to lose. richards was unprepared and he was not quick on his feet. those have got to be the two biggest things for a stand-up comic. i mean, how smart do you have to be to respond without being a monster? here are some suggestions:

richards: hey, why don’t you two quit yapping up there in the balcony? the people in the front row are complaining about all the spittle (then make a hand gesture and maybe a classic-kramer disgusted facial expression as if you were hit with someone’s slobber from above).

richards (if they continued): hey, you guys seem to want all the attention. the people paid good money to hear some jokes tonight. do you guys want to hear some jokes, or do you want to listen to a couple of jack-a**** jabber on about the last episode of desperate housewives? that’s what you guys were talking about, right guys? (get the audience on your side, throw in a joke that challenges their masculinity, which usually gets males riled up).

richards (if they still continued): hey, what do you guys do for a living? (engage them in actual banter, you can always make fun of somebody’s job, the car he drives, the fact that they’re at the club together, “are you two guys here with just each other?”, etc. i mean, it’s not mature humor, but it’s more mature than “n*****!!! n*****!!!”)

(3) finally, we saw again how the power of the technology, specifically youtube, and integrated cell phone camcorders are speeding the cultural exchange in america and around the world. this video, for these reasons, is an unbelievable must-see.

he apologized via satellite on the late show with david letterman monday night, and a CNN poll as of 2am EST tuesday shows most readers have accepted it.

our previous coverage of very public meltdowns and melees:

  • howard dean (the now-famous “then we’ll go to washington to take back the white house — yeeeaargh!”)
  • ron artest and the indiana pacers (the malice at the palace; i still think ron artest was justified going into the stands, btw)
  • 3 Responses to “VIDEO: michael richards (seinfeld’s “kramer”) loses it”

    1. doug

      “are you two guys here with just each other?”

      “Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” [link]

    2. CBS yanked a few of the copies of the Kramer apology (including the one you posted) off of youtube, but there are more and more popping up every day.

    3. […] VIDEO: michael richards (seinfeld’s “kramer”) loses it ( […]