LOS ANGELES (November 20, 2006) — Michael Richards stunned a comedy club audience on Friday night in Hollywood when the former “Seinfeld” star began shouting racial epithets at people who heckled him during his stand-up routine.
Richards, best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s eccentric neighbor Kramer on the hit TV show “Seinfeld,” was performing at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood when he went into the verbal rampage.
Video clips posted online after the performance shows Richards launch into a racial tirade that apparently began after two black audience members started shouting at him that he wasn’t funny.
“Shut up! Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--,” Richards screamed from the stage.
The 57-year-old actor-comedian (pictured above during the rant) then began pacing 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.
From the video clip, it is clear many of those in attendance weren’t sure what to make of the tirade.
While there is some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping “Oh my God” and various people “ooh” after Richard uses the n-word.
Eventually someone says: “It’s not funny. That’s why you’re a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. ‘Seinfeld,’ that’s it.”
By the time the tirade was over, many of the audience members are seen leaving on the video clip.
Interestingly, Richards was invited back to perform the next night at the Laugh Factory and did so without incident.
When contacted by Access Hollywood, a spokesperson for the Laugh Factory said the club had “no comment” on the incident.
However, at a news conference on Monday, club owner Jamie Masada expressed remorse and said Richards will not be back at the club 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.
Calls by the Associated Press to Richards’ representatives were not returned Monday.
He refused to comment on-camera when reached by CNN, but the network reported that he said off-camera he felt sorry for what had happened and had made amends.
Seinfeld issued a statement saying he was “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,” Seinfeld said.
Comic Paul Rodriguez, who was at the club, said he thought Richards’ remarks crossed the line.
“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,” he said. “Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations.”
“I was in the back watching this. He has always done cutting-edge stuff and I was expecting a punch line to merit the words in front of it. But it didn?t come and there was a silence and the African-Americans in the audience were right to be offended. If you’re going to use the word n***** on this stage, there should be a reason for it. There was no reason,” Rodriguez told reporters. “Mr. Richards will no longer be accepted in this establishment because we do not back his ugly, hateful words. The audience came here expecting to see Kramer and they got Mark Furman.”
Comedian George Lopez told Los Angeles television station KTLA that he thought Richards’ lack of stand-up experience may have been a factor.
“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,” Lopez said. “He’s an actor whose show has been off the air, he shouldn’t ever be on a stand-up gig.