Giddy up?

Kramer loses it

OK, you’ve read about Michael Richards and his tirade of racist abuse at a Los Angeles comedy club a couple of days ago, which was being filmed and is now all-too-available on YouTube. It’s worth watching it, for blood sport, but we must remember, I guess, that it’s out of context of his freewheeling show. The reaction of the audience says it all though.

Notice how Seinfeld tries to stop the audience from laughing. It’s not funny, but they are in Letterman mode and faced with Kramer. It’s a sad spectacle, in some ways sadder than the tirade itself. Here’s a man, loved by millions, who seems not to be a racist, but who either “played” with racism without any grace or clear signal that he was doing so, or else has racism deep in his soul that came out in “the rage”. What do people make of it?

Richards clearly has an awful lot of goodwill in the bank, but he’s certainly pissed a lot of it up a wall. Remember when Billy Connolly made his Ken Bigley joke? It wasn’t filmed, but it got out, and he was a pariah for a few days. My guess is that he weathered it. But that was a planned, deliberately sick gag. This was an outburst, a seeming peek inside the recesses of the mind of a much-loved figure. Can he weather it? Does it matter? His good work is, after all, in the public domain, in box sets in so many homes. More to the point: should one of comedy’s jobs not be to shock to a degree, to operate outside polite restrictions? Richard Herring offends with some of his material, and deliberately (albeit not in a racist direction), and it’s the comedian’s right to fail in front of an audience. (This is a broader discussion, because in Richards’ case, it seems he just lost it.)

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54 thoughts on “Giddy up?

  1. It’s the Mel Factor. Something you say in rage and then immediately regret – we’ve all done it, but not in front of a live audience, and certainly not deeply racisty stuff like this. He obviously thinks this kind of thing deep down – the crocodile tears don’t fool me – and it’s quite obvious that what he’s most concerned about is the damage it may do to his career. Not that he’s done much of note since he left Seinfeld. I saw on the stage a couple of years ago in Arsenic and Old Lace and he wasn’t very good.However, I’m a big a fan of Seinfeld as the next man (in fact I’ve just taken delivery of series 7 box set), and I’m not one of those outraged liberals who will suddenly see Richards in a different light. But I do think he’s a fool who should learn to control himself. I bet he does too.

  2. It’s the Mel Factor. Something you say in rage and then immediately regret – we’ve all done it, but not in front of a live audience, and certainly not deeply racisty stuff like this. He obviously thinks this kind of thing deep down – the crocodile tears don’t fool me – and it’s quite obvious that what he’s most concerned about is the damage it may do to his career. Not that he’s done much of note since he left Seinfeld. I saw on the stage a couple of years ago in Arsenic and Old Lace and he wasn’t very good.However, I’m a big a fan of Seinfeld as the next man (in fact I’ve just taken delivery of series 7 box set), and I’m not one of those outraged liberals who will suddenly see Richards in a different light. But I do think he’s a fool who should learn to control himself. I bet he does too.

  3. Inexcusable but I still think there’s a difference between a premeditated exposition of racist views and a man losing his rag and reaching for the first weapon he can think of to strike back.Does the fact that the weapon he chooses is to call a black man a nigger mean Michael Richards really thinks this stuff deep down? I’m not so sure. You don’t have to be a member of the Klan to appreciate that using that word as an insult is going to hurt people.I’d be more worried about his general equilibrium – as an experienced stand-up he can hardly be surprised by people heckling in comedy clubs or not hanging on every word of his act.The only thing that would really prove his latent racism is if he reacted to the hecklers in the first place because they were black. If they had been white would he have brushed it aside more easily? We’ll never know.Although I had heard about the incident over the past couple of days this is the first time I’ve watched the actual clip. It’s interesting that I was much less shocked than I’d anticipated. I genuinely thought I was in for more than a guy shouting the word nigger a few times.That may just be me getting affected by the hype. More worryingly, it may indicate how desensitized I/we have become.I also think the ‘n’ word has greater resonance in the US and that may help explain things. I wonder if this would have caused the same furore if it had been Russell Brand (for instance) in a London comedy club?

  4. Inexcusable but I still think there’s a difference between a premeditated exposition of racist views and a man losing his rag and reaching for the first weapon he can think of to strike back.Does the fact that the weapon he chooses is to call a black man a nigger mean Michael Richards really thinks this stuff deep down? I’m not so sure. You don’t have to be a member of the Klan to appreciate that using that word as an insult is going to hurt people.I’d be more worried about his general equilibrium – as an experienced stand-up he can hardly be surprised by people heckling in comedy clubs or not hanging on every word of his act.The only thing that would really prove his latent racism is if he reacted to the hecklers in the first place because they were black. If they had been white would he have brushed it aside more easily? We’ll never know.Although I had heard about the incident over the past couple of days this is the first time I’ve watched the actual clip. It’s interesting that I was much less shocked than I’d anticipated. I genuinely thought I was in for more than a guy shouting the word nigger a few times.That may just be me getting affected by the hype. More worryingly, it may indicate how desensitized I/we have become.I also think the ‘n’ word has greater resonance in the US and that may help explain things. I wonder if this would have caused the same furore if it had been Russell Brand (for instance) in a London comedy club?

  5. I found it really disturbing, because it was just a huge angry outburst of rage and hatred. The difference between this and the Billy Connolly Incident, and what Rich does, is that this wasn’t just a provocative or ill-judged joke. There was no punchline, or pay-off, or message. It wasn’t part of his act, designed to make us laugh or think. It was just some angry racism. I can’t see any way to explain it.The apology was weird too. I don’t think he’d thought it through really – what was all that stuff about Hurricane Katrina?! He was trying to deflect the issue, to make it about a wider problem, when the only problem is that he fucked up. He knew an apology probably wouldn’t be enough. He needed an explanation for using the word ‘nigger’ in such an aggressive way. There probably isn’t a good, believable reason…I’ve seen this compared to Mel Gibson’s anti-semitic/sugartits rant, which damaged his career. The big difference here is that in that case it was just reported what he said, so he can put a spin on it and get out of jail (so to speak). Here we can see for ourselves exactly what Richards said, in what tone, and under what provocation. I have little sympathy for him. He’s a comedian – he should be able to deal with some chatter and heckling.If he’s not a racist, he’s an idiot of enormous proportions.

  6. I found it really disturbing, because it was just a huge angry outburst of rage and hatred. The difference between this and the Billy Connolly Incident, and what Rich does, is that this wasn’t just a provocative or ill-judged joke. There was no punchline, or pay-off, or message. It wasn’t part of his act, designed to make us laugh or think. It was just some angry racism. I can’t see any way to explain it.The apology was weird too. I don’t think he’d thought it through really – what was all that stuff about Hurricane Katrina?! He was trying to deflect the issue, to make it about a wider problem, when the only problem is that he fucked up. He knew an apology probably wouldn’t be enough. He needed an explanation for using the word ‘nigger’ in such an aggressive way. There probably isn’t a good, believable reason…I’ve seen this compared to Mel Gibson’s anti-semitic/sugartits rant, which damaged his career. The big difference here is that in that case it was just reported what he said, so he can put a spin on it and get out of jail (so to speak). Here we can see for ourselves exactly what Richards said, in what tone, and under what provocation. I have little sympathy for him. He’s a comedian – he should be able to deal with some chatter and heckling.If he’s not a racist, he’s an idiot of enormous proportions.

  7. And this is what happens to people when they’ve been in arguably the greatest sitcom of all time, lauded as the greatest thing since sliced bread, told they can do nothing wrong, and consequently, behave like a spoilt child, whining when they get caught out. I get your point, Andrew, about comedy’s duty to sometimes shock, but Richards’ outburst had nothing to do with comedy, but about a comic used to working with great material and an audience willing to laugh, who’s playing a club with probably poor material, who can’t cope with rejection. Mildly experienced as I am with stand-up, even I can cope with hecklers without having to refer to their racial origins.

  8. And this is what happens to people when they’ve been in arguably the greatest sitcom of all time, lauded as the greatest thing since sliced bread, told they can do nothing wrong, and consequently, behave like a spoilt child, whining when they get caught out. I get your point, Andrew, about comedy’s duty to sometimes shock, but Richards’ outburst had nothing to do with comedy, but about a comic used to working with great material and an audience willing to laugh, who’s playing a club with probably poor material, who can’t cope with rejection. Mildly experienced as I am with stand-up, even I can cope with hecklers without having to refer to their racial origins.

  9. I have sympathy for him.Many years ago I worked as a teacher in a New York high school. I’m a freckled Irishman. You don’t get much more white than me. I didn’t even pronounce ‘aluminum’ properly…Hour after hour I would hear these teenagers call each other ‘motherfucker’ ‘nigger’ or if they were being particularly creative ‘motherfuckingnigger’. Without exception they were all black/african-american/afro-american. I guess this was irony ? When I was a teenager I wasn’t the least bit ironic. (see what I did there ?)One day I was standing in the cafeteria supervising the queue for lunch. One of the kids was goofing around pretending to jump the queue. When one of the other kids spotted him they’d send him packing back to the end of the line. One of the kids took particular exception to this and squared up to him. The environment (lower-east-side, blocks from alphabet city) dictated that you didn’t allow anything to blow-up because after school it could have more serious consequences for those involved.Stepping in I looked up to these two 6 foot tall 15 year olds (basketball players..) and said with a laugh “jaysis boy will you get back in the line he’s only messing”. With that I was pinned to the wall by this 15 year old “who you calling boy you motherfucker ?”Seems it was a term of abuse that originated in slavery. I didn’t know this and clearly was not trying to be racist, offensive. Not one hour later this same kid (boy) was calling one of the other kids a “fucked up crackhead nigger”. Confused ? Damn sure I was.Words don’t belong to one group of people. Why is it ok for Chris Rock to use this language but not Michael Richards ? Clearly if Michael Richards is trying to be abusive then it’s NOT ok. But was he? If he had been abused by two obese people and he had called them fat-fuckers would we even be discussing this now ? If someone refers to a heckler in a UK comedy club as a ‘chav’ is this racist ? This is riddled with contradictions. Who among us hasn’t said something that we later regretted ? I know I have.

  10. I have sympathy for him.Many years ago I worked as a teacher in a New York high school. I’m a freckled Irishman. You don’t get much more white than me. I didn’t even pronounce ‘aluminum’ properly…Hour after hour I would hear these teenagers call each other ‘motherfucker’ ‘nigger’ or if they were being particularly creative ‘motherfuckingnigger’. Without exception they were all black/african-american/afro-american. I guess this was irony ? When I was a teenager I wasn’t the least bit ironic. (see what I did there ?)One day I was standing in the cafeteria supervising the queue for lunch. One of the kids was goofing around pretending to jump the queue. When one of the other kids spotted him they’d send him packing back to the end of the line. One of the kids took particular exception to this and squared up to him. The environment (lower-east-side, blocks from alphabet city) dictated that you didn’t allow anything to blow-up because after school it could have more serious consequences for those involved.Stepping in I looked up to these two 6 foot tall 15 year olds (basketball players..) and said with a laugh “jaysis boy will you get back in the line he’s only messing”. With that I was pinned to the wall by this 15 year old “who you calling boy you motherfucker ?”Seems it was a term of abuse that originated in slavery. I didn’t know this and clearly was not trying to be racist, offensive. Not one hour later this same kid (boy) was calling one of the other kids a “fucked up crackhead nigger”. Confused ? Damn sure I was.Words don’t belong to one group of people. Why is it ok for Chris Rock to use this language but not Michael Richards ? Clearly if Michael Richards is trying to be abusive then it’s NOT ok. But was he? If he had been abused by two obese people and he had called them fat-fuckers would we even be discussing this now ? If someone refers to a heckler in a UK comedy club as a ‘chav’ is this racist ? This is riddled with contradictions. Who among us hasn’t said something that we later regretted ? I know I have.

  11. As someone who’s had a crack at the stand-up thing and who has seen a heck of a lot of stand-up I can only say I’m amazed as his inability to neatly turn the heckling to his advantage, it’s a skill that any seasoned stand-up is forced to learn. So I guess he, for whatever reason couldn’t do that and in a panic “brain-dumped”, which doesn’t excuse what he said but I can empathise with the experience of finding yourself on stage with words falling out of your mouth before you’ve even realised it’s open. He’ll survive, it’ll be forgotton. However, if you want to see Mr Herring do some on-purpose shocking material he’s performing an extended set at mt gig in Cranford, Hounslow tomorrow night, with Robin Ince as MC and two fabulous new acts it’s going to be stonker, pop down. Info and tix available from concordecomedyticketsATgooglemailDOTcom . Sorry but I can hardly call myself a promoter if I don’t take this opportunity to promote :DPS – For some reason this won’t let me post today if I’m logged in with my Blogger account.. grrr

  12. As someone who’s had a crack at the stand-up thing and who has seen a heck of a lot of stand-up I can only say I’m amazed as his inability to neatly turn the heckling to his advantage, it’s a skill that any seasoned stand-up is forced to learn. So I guess he, for whatever reason couldn’t do that and in a panic “brain-dumped”, which doesn’t excuse what he said but I can empathise with the experience of finding yourself on stage with words falling out of your mouth before you’ve even realised it’s open. He’ll survive, it’ll be forgotton. However, if you want to see Mr Herring do some on-purpose shocking material he’s performing an extended set at mt gig in Cranford, Hounslow tomorrow night, with Robin Ince as MC and two fabulous new acts it’s going to be stonker, pop down. Info and tix available from concordecomedyticketsATgooglemailDOTcom . Sorry but I can hardly call myself a promoter if I don’t take this opportunity to promote :DPS – For some reason this won’t let me post today if I’m logged in with my Blogger account.. grrr

  13. Looking at the footage and testimony elsewhere about what caused the reaction, it seems he was shouting the word ‘nigger’ because he’d been referred to as a ‘cracker’ and a ‘washed up white boy’. As a result, the issue is so complex it ties my head up in knots. In my opinion, a white man should not be able to use the term ‘nigger’ in any context, it’s still historically too sensitive unless irony is used and marked up significantly beforehand and it’s clear we know the comic doesn’t mean it as a boneheaded swipe. But how far can a heckler go? Is it ok for hecklers to use a racial term when abusing a comic for poor material? It’s hard to work out the context. It’s possible that he was pointing out the uselessness of using a racial epithet to slur artistic material. If this was his point, he could have put it across much, much more effectively. He was on a stage and held a microphone and underestimated the power that holds.Still, I feel sympathy because the provocation was harsh, and has gone seemingly unreported.

  14. Looking at the footage and testimony elsewhere about what caused the reaction, it seems he was shouting the word ‘nigger’ because he’d been referred to as a ‘cracker’ and a ‘washed up white boy’. As a result, the issue is so complex it ties my head up in knots. In my opinion, a white man should not be able to use the term ‘nigger’ in any context, it’s still historically too sensitive unless irony is used and marked up significantly beforehand and it’s clear we know the comic doesn’t mean it as a boneheaded swipe. But how far can a heckler go? Is it ok for hecklers to use a racial term when abusing a comic for poor material? It’s hard to work out the context. It’s possible that he was pointing out the uselessness of using a racial epithet to slur artistic material. If this was his point, he could have put it across much, much more effectively. He was on a stage and held a microphone and underestimated the power that holds.Still, I feel sympathy because the provocation was harsh, and has gone seemingly unreported.

  15. I agree with Peter in Dublin’s post, and feel the crux of the matter is was it a knee-jerk reaction to a heckle – the purpose to stun the heckler in to silence by attacking something close to their heart, or was it deep-seated racism that was kept well hidden and bubbled over following a series of events?In the UK we can look to the exile of Ron Atkinson, for a vile statement on Marcel Desailly, and it shocked me for two reasons 1. the racial slur 2. I thought Desailly was having a good game. All of a sudden, Ian Wright and Jonathan Ross were expressing their disgust, but I’ve heard Jonathan Ross play on sterotypes “Sergio Garcia’s mum was presumably there to clean the rooms”. I’ll admit, I laughed at the time, but the subtext could be seen as offensive to anyone of latin origin.Equally surprised by the branding of Atkinson as a racist – considering he gave starts to Lawrie Cunningham, Remi Moses, Brendon Batson, Cyrille Regis, Dwight Yorke, Carlton Palmer etc.It could be argued that they were good enough to be signed anywhere, the point is initially they weren’t. They were signed by Ron – he even showed loyalty to some of his players, taking Remi Moses with him to Manchester United.I agree that racist remarks are offensive, but are caucasian people protected in the same manner as people from other ethnic backgrounds?

  16. I agree with Peter in Dublin’s post, and feel the crux of the matter is was it a knee-jerk reaction to a heckle – the purpose to stun the heckler in to silence by attacking something close to their heart, or was it deep-seated racism that was kept well hidden and bubbled over following a series of events?In the UK we can look to the exile of Ron Atkinson, for a vile statement on Marcel Desailly, and it shocked me for two reasons 1. the racial slur 2. I thought Desailly was having a good game. All of a sudden, Ian Wright and Jonathan Ross were expressing their disgust, but I’ve heard Jonathan Ross play on sterotypes “Sergio Garcia’s mum was presumably there to clean the rooms”. I’ll admit, I laughed at the time, but the subtext could be seen as offensive to anyone of latin origin.Equally surprised by the branding of Atkinson as a racist – considering he gave starts to Lawrie Cunningham, Remi Moses, Brendon Batson, Cyrille Regis, Dwight Yorke, Carlton Palmer etc.It could be argued that they were good enough to be signed anywhere, the point is initially they weren’t. They were signed by Ron – he even showed loyalty to some of his players, taking Remi Moses with him to Manchester United.I agree that racist remarks are offensive, but are caucasian people protected in the same manner as people from other ethnic backgrounds?

  17. I agree with Peter in Dublin’s post, and feel the crux of the matter is was it a knee-jerk reaction to a heckle – the purpose to stun the heckler in to silence by attacking something close to their heart, or was it deep-seated racism that was kept well hidden and bubbled over following a series of events?In the UK we can look to the exile of Ron Atkinson, for a vile statement on Marcel Desailly, and it shocked me for two reasons 1. the racial slur 2. I thought Desailly was having a good game. All of a sudden, Ian Wright and Jonathan Ross were expressing their disgust, but I’ve heard Jonathan Ross play on sterotypes “Sergio Garcia’s mum was presumably there to clean the rooms”. I’ll admit, I laughed at the time, but the subtext could be seen as offensive to anyone of latin origin.Equally surprised by the branding of Atkinson as a racist – considering he gave starts to Lawrie Cunningham, Remi Moses, Brendon Batson, Cyrille Regis, Dwight Yorke, Carlton Palmer etc.It could be argued that they were good enough to be signed anywhere, the point is initially they weren’t. They were signed by Ron – he even showed loyalty to some of his players, taking Remi Moses with him to Manchester United.I agree that racist remarks are offensive, but are caucasian people protected in the same manner as people from other ethnic backgrounds?

  18. I agree with Peter in Dublin’s post, and feel the crux of the matter is was it a knee-jerk reaction to a heckle – the purpose to stun the heckler in to silence by attacking something close to their heart, or was it deep-seated racism that was kept well hidden and bubbled over following a series of events?In the UK we can look to the exile of Ron Atkinson, for a vile statement on Marcel Desailly, and it shocked me for two reasons 1. the racial slur 2. I thought Desailly was having a good game. All of a sudden, Ian Wright and Jonathan Ross were expressing their disgust, but I’ve heard Jonathan Ross play on sterotypes “Sergio Garcia’s mum was presumably there to clean the rooms”. I’ll admit, I laughed at the time, but the subtext could be seen as offensive to anyone of latin origin.Equally surprised by the branding of Atkinson as a racist – considering he gave starts to Lawrie Cunningham, Remi Moses, Brendon Batson, Cyrille Regis, Dwight Yorke, Carlton Palmer etc.It could be argued that they were good enough to be signed anywhere, the point is initially they weren’t. They were signed by Ron – he even showed loyalty to some of his players, taking Remi Moses with him to Manchester United.I agree that racist remarks are offensive, but are caucasian people protected in the same manner as people from other ethnic backgrounds?

  19. I agree that groups of people don’t have an absolute right to words and I think there is, rather like the “blame culture”, a culture of seeking to take offence where none was intended.However, I also think there should be an awareness of context, which is often represented as contradiction and unfairness (“one law for them, one law for us”).When Tom Cruise is called a dwarf in the press, I’m sure he’s annoyed, but I don’t believe he is genuinely hurt by it.When it is shouted at me across the street by groups of people, I feel I am entitled to feel some hurt.

  20. I agree that groups of people don’t have an absolute right to words and I think there is, rather like the “blame culture”, a culture of seeking to take offence where none was intended.However, I also think there should be an awareness of context, which is often represented as contradiction and unfairness (“one law for them, one law for us”).When Tom Cruise is called a dwarf in the press, I’m sure he’s annoyed, but I don’t believe he is genuinely hurt by it.When it is shouted at me across the street by groups of people, I feel I am entitled to feel some hurt.

  21. But there is a difference between two black men calling each other ‘nigger’ and a white man using the word? There’s a huge difference! It works with homosexuals and the word ‘queer’ too.These are both oppressed and victimised minority groups, who have suffered for generations (hence fat people, short people and chavs not being in quite the same position), and ‘nigger’, ‘queer’, ‘paki’ etc are very strong words, steeped in a history of prejudice. Using these words as a form of attack picking on a racial difference, and in conjunction with a lynching reference as Michael Richards did is very different from two black kids using it in the modern gangsta rap way.It is a double standard, yes, but it’s just one of those things. You can take the piss out of your own, but not others. When you laugh at or attack your own kind you are part of it, you are looking at yourself. That’s ok. It’s a wider self-depracation. But if you laugh at or attack people for their differences then it’s not ok, as you are likely to be coming from a point of superiorty.

  22. But there is a difference between two black men calling each other ‘nigger’ and a white man using the word? There’s a huge difference! It works with homosexuals and the word ‘queer’ too.These are both oppressed and victimised minority groups, who have suffered for generations (hence fat people, short people and chavs not being in quite the same position), and ‘nigger’, ‘queer’, ‘paki’ etc are very strong words, steeped in a history of prejudice. Using these words as a form of attack picking on a racial difference, and in conjunction with a lynching reference as Michael Richards did is very different from two black kids using it in the modern gangsta rap way.It is a double standard, yes, but it’s just one of those things. You can take the piss out of your own, but not others. When you laugh at or attack your own kind you are part of it, you are looking at yourself. That’s ok. It’s a wider self-depracation. But if you laugh at or attack people for their differences then it’s not ok, as you are likely to be coming from a point of superiorty.

  23. The ‘Ron Atkinson signed loads of black players so can’t be a racist’ argument is perilously close to the ‘I know lots of black people so can’t be a racist’ comment which automatically makes me suspicious.I don’t think his motivation in signing them went beyond the fact that they could help keep him in a job. But, to be fair, the fact that he was only thinking about football issues when it came to those players did perhaps make him unusually enlightened for the time.And I feel the idea that white people are just as entitled to protection from racist abuse as non-white slightly misses the point. It’s surely all about historical context. So someone calling me a ‘washed-up white boy’ wouldn’t bother me in the slightest (apart from being uncomfortably close to the truth) because my being white does not generally cause people to have a negative view of me and has never led to me suffering any form of persecution.It’s thus very different from calling a black man a nigger (or indeed ‘boy’ as Peter discovered) because the term of abuse is linked to real abuse – particularly in the past but still in the present day.Spot may get hurt when people shout dwarf at him in the same way as ginger-haired people probably don’t enjoy being called carrot-top etc. But such abuse doesn’t have the same resonance as nigger or paki because – to the best of my knowledge – people have never been repressed for having ginger hair. Whether they should be or not is a different matter…

  24. The ‘Ron Atkinson signed loads of black players so can’t be a racist’ argument is perilously close to the ‘I know lots of black people so can’t be a racist’ comment which automatically makes me suspicious.I don’t think his motivation in signing them went beyond the fact that they could help keep him in a job. But, to be fair, the fact that he was only thinking about football issues when it came to those players did perhaps make him unusually enlightened for the time.And I feel the idea that white people are just as entitled to protection from racist abuse as non-white slightly misses the point. It’s surely all about historical context. So someone calling me a ‘washed-up white boy’ wouldn’t bother me in the slightest (apart from being uncomfortably close to the truth) because my being white does not generally cause people to have a negative view of me and has never led to me suffering any form of persecution.It’s thus very different from calling a black man a nigger (or indeed ‘boy’ as Peter discovered) because the term of abuse is linked to real abuse – particularly in the past but still in the present day.Spot may get hurt when people shout dwarf at him in the same way as ginger-haired people probably don’t enjoy being called carrot-top etc. But such abuse doesn’t have the same resonance as nigger or paki because – to the best of my knowledge – people have never been repressed for having ginger hair. Whether they should be or not is a different matter…

  25. I wasn’t actually trying to suggest that my own experiences are the same as racism. I was merely trying to illustrate the point to Peter in Dublin, that who is saying the words and who they are saying them to is very relevant.I thought that showing a personal example outside of the context of race might illustrate a more palatable example of that. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  26. I wasn’t actually trying to suggest that my own experiences are the same as racism. I was merely trying to illustrate the point to Peter in Dublin, that who is saying the words and who they are saying them to is very relevant.I thought that showing a personal example outside of the context of race might illustrate a more palatable example of that. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  27. I never saw much of Seinfeld but have been planning to catch up after the recent resurgence of interest, Curb and lots of recommendations by friends. Am I put off by the “Kramer rant”? No – because the people we see on the screen are never the people they are off screen. Coogan is ace, but if the tabloids are to be believed (yes, I know …) I’d probably not want to buy him a beer down the local.I agree with much of Peter in Dublin’s post.Words undoubtedly carry a weight that differs according to the speaker. FWIW I think Richards was caught off-guard, tried to react in the style of Chris Rock (‘n’-words aplenty) and immediately found himself well out of his depth and unable to reach the shore because he simply doesnt have the talent to pull that kind of stuff off.At best he was a burke but sadly I fear it was a case of in vino veritas and therefor IMHO inexcusable

  28. I never saw much of Seinfeld but have been planning to catch up after the recent resurgence of interest, Curb and lots of recommendations by friends. Am I put off by the “Kramer rant”? No – because the people we see on the screen are never the people they are off screen. Coogan is ace, but if the tabloids are to be believed (yes, I know …) I’d probably not want to buy him a beer down the local.I agree with much of Peter in Dublin’s post.Words undoubtedly carry a weight that differs according to the speaker. FWIW I think Richards was caught off-guard, tried to react in the style of Chris Rock (‘n’-words aplenty) and immediately found himself well out of his depth and unable to reach the shore because he simply doesnt have the talent to pull that kind of stuff off.At best he was a burke but sadly I fear it was a case of in vino veritas and therefor IMHO inexcusable

  29. The tirade was horrific, but as you said Andrew, it was the audience laughing that was probably the worst bit. How on earth did these people find what he was saying funny? I don’t think I have never seen anything quite so unfunny. It was really uncomfortable to watch. I am a massive fan of Seinfeld, but surely just the sight of Kramer doesn’t make you immediately laugh out loud? I thought that was the worst bit.

  30. The tirade was horrific, but as you said Andrew, it was the audience laughing that was probably the worst bit. How on earth did these people find what he was saying funny? I don’t think I have never seen anything quite so unfunny. It was really uncomfortable to watch. I am a massive fan of Seinfeld, but surely just the sight of Kramer doesn’t make you immediately laugh out loud? I thought that was the worst bit.

  31. It seems to me, from watching the Seinfeld DVD interviews and extras, that Michael Richards is a decidedly odd character and that that isn’t just an affectation. I wouldn’t make any attempt to excuse what he said. It neither adds nor subtracts from my suspicions about what he’s really like, but those suspicions have never stopped me enjoying his performance in Seinfeld.It’s a little ironic that this should happen close to the release of the Season 7 box set. There’s a noticeable increase in the number of black characters in the first few shows of this series. Presumably this was the point when they started to respond to certain (possibly valid)criticisms of the show.

  32. It seems to me, from watching the Seinfeld DVD interviews and extras, that Michael Richards is a decidedly odd character and that that isn’t just an affectation. I wouldn’t make any attempt to excuse what he said. It neither adds nor subtracts from my suspicions about what he’s really like, but those suspicions have never stopped me enjoying his performance in Seinfeld.It’s a little ironic that this should happen close to the release of the Season 7 box set. There’s a noticeable increase in the number of black characters in the first few shows of this series. Presumably this was the point when they started to respond to certain (possibly valid)criticisms of the show.

  33. Frankly, I am astounded that people can’t see the difference between a black person using the N word and an affluent middle=-class white man. Secondly, Richards made a vile lynching ‘gag’ – would anyone respond to a jewish heckler with a merry Auschwitz quip. I sincerely hope not.He evidently does have deep-seated racist issues – surely it’s not beyond his wit to react to black hecklers without resorting to racial epithets. I spose if a white person had jibed at him then he;d make some honky gag, hmmm? He makes Jim Davidson look like Paul Foot, frankly.He’ll be a pariah for a few weeks and then miraculously recant – but that patently ain’t the point. Shame on him

  34. Frankly, I am astounded that people can’t see the difference between a black person using the N word and an affluent middle=-class white man. Secondly, Richards made a vile lynching ‘gag’ – would anyone respond to a jewish heckler with a merry Auschwitz quip. I sincerely hope not.He evidently does have deep-seated racist issues – surely it’s not beyond his wit to react to black hecklers without resorting to racial epithets. I spose if a white person had jibed at him then he;d make some honky gag, hmmm? He makes Jim Davidson look like Paul Foot, frankly.He’ll be a pariah for a few weeks and then miraculously recant – but that patently ain’t the point. Shame on him

  35. I would like to see everything in context – his routine up to this point, what his heckle was, why was he heckled, etc. Until then, it is difficult to comment properly.I agree with most of the comments already posted – Richards shouldn’t have said it.I can see the point about it not being the same to say “white boy” as it is to say the N word, but how was the heckle expressed? Was it said with complete disdain (is that the right word?). If so, then doesn’t that mean the heckler was suggesting the same thing as saying the N word? Or that Richards took it in the same way?It’s the same as swearing. When people use the C word I absolutely hate it and yet some people just think it is horrible. I think I hate it because it is usually said with such venom. When Irish people swear it doesn’t sound half as bad because it isn’t said in such an angry way – I still don’t agree with it.I would suggest that those who are not affected by racism do not know fully how hurtful it is as they never experience it. Being white myself, I know I do not know.Whatever the reasons for his outburst, there is no excuse for using that word anymore, in my opinion. All what has gone on in the past, you would have thought that civilised people would have let that drop from the vocabulary.

  36. I would like to see everything in context – his routine up to this point, what his heckle was, why was he heckled, etc. Until then, it is difficult to comment properly.I agree with most of the comments already posted – Richards shouldn’t have said it.I can see the point about it not being the same to say “white boy” as it is to say the N word, but how was the heckle expressed? Was it said with complete disdain (is that the right word?). If so, then doesn’t that mean the heckler was suggesting the same thing as saying the N word? Or that Richards took it in the same way?It’s the same as swearing. When people use the C word I absolutely hate it and yet some people just think it is horrible. I think I hate it because it is usually said with such venom. When Irish people swear it doesn’t sound half as bad because it isn’t said in such an angry way – I still don’t agree with it.I would suggest that those who are not affected by racism do not know fully how hurtful it is as they never experience it. Being white myself, I know I do not know.Whatever the reasons for his outburst, there is no excuse for using that word anymore, in my opinion. All what has gone on in the past, you would have thought that civilised people would have let that drop from the vocabulary.

  37. Steve Lake’s comments say it best, IMHO. From the Letterman interview, Mr Richards seems to have shocked himself as much as anyone else by what he said, as well as by being caught out. Hopefully now he’ll have the bravery not many of us have to honestly face his underlying rage. I agree – it’s sad.

  38. Steve Lake’s comments say it best, IMHO. From the Letterman interview, Mr Richards seems to have shocked himself as much as anyone else by what he said, as well as by being caught out. Hopefully now he’ll have the bravery not many of us have to honestly face his underlying rage. I agree – it’s sad.

  39. Contrary to what many think, Michael Richards isn’t an experienced stand up – merely an established comic actor trying his hand at it. And if he is unable to handle heckling (even if most of heckling is the ill-judged by-product of pissed-up wannabes and just plain annoying) with racist abuse, then perhaps he shouldn’t bother.

  40. Contrary to what many think, Michael Richards isn’t an experienced stand up – merely an established comic actor trying his hand at it. And if he is unable to handle heckling (even if most of heckling is the ill-judged by-product of pissed-up wannabes and just plain annoying) with racist abuse, then perhaps he shouldn’t bother.

  41. Did Billy Connelly weather the storm though?My Mum was a massive fan — she’d kill herself laughing whenever he was on and she’d never miss one of his Parkinson appearances. Now he’s persona-non-gratta. She’ll turn over whenever he’s on, and doesn’t laugh when she sees those old routines. Its not that he’s less funny its just that the perception of the man changes.

  42. Did Billy Connelly weather the storm though?My Mum was a massive fan — she’d kill herself laughing whenever he was on and she’d never miss one of his Parkinson appearances. Now he’s persona-non-gratta. She’ll turn over whenever he’s on, and doesn’t laugh when she sees those old routines. Its not that he’s less funny its just that the perception of the man changes.

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