I was watching Letterman tonight because Seinfeld was on, and I figured that there HAD to be some convo about the Michael Richards meltdown, and I was really curious what Seinfeld had to say about the whole deal.
Little did I know..Michael appeared via satellite with Jerry on the show. Along with the audience, I really wasn’t sure if he (Richards) was going for funny or really wanted to apologize seriously. There were long pauses and nervous laughter and Jerry telling the audience that it really wasn’t funny and
Kramer Richards being offended by the audience laughing and Jerry trying to explain to Richards that the audience was seeing KRAMER, and man, was it really really uncomfortable.
Richards is clearly distraught. I kept waiting for him to do one of those Kramer shimmies and fall over backwards in his chair symbolically pratfalling into the arms of forgiving fans. I still don’t totally understand what happened that night, and I really don’t know if he’ll ever recover his career.
It was mesmerizing to watch, even if painful and discomforting. I kept wanting to forgive the hipster doofus..it’s gonna be a little harder to forget the verbal pratfalls of Richards.
Update: Here is a link to the video of Richards on Letterman. Despite much speculation, Richards did not blame his tirade on alcohol, upbringing or anyone else, other than a rather disjointed statement about race relations in America.
Update 2: Michael over at Chez Bez has some good words on this subject. I agree with his statement about the nervous laughter in the audience. I don’t think they were laughing at his apology. I think they desperately wanted to laugh at KRAMER.
Update 3: This guy (Good Copy blog) thinks the apology was a disaster and stage-managed by Seinfeld for economic reasons. I wanna think that Seinfeld was helping a friend, but this guy has some good points.
I understand the mindset of an actor who loses control on stage. I’ve studied acting, and I know how naked you feel when your act goes very, very wrong. I’ve bombed so badly in an audition that I wanted to hit random people in the throat. But you are responsible for your actions and must control yourself at all times!
Towards the end, Letterman says, preciently, “I certainly hope you don’t have regrets about being on the show.” I bet he does, and should.
As a black individual, I am offended by Richards’ words, and to a lesser degree, by Seinfeld’s (probably business-driven) attempt to stage-manage his apology. If the man can’t speak clearly for himself, I don’t need Seinfeld translating for him.
Update 4: Shakespeare’s Sister has some interesting observations on this story as well, including insights on passive vs. active racism.