Kramer's Meltdown

michael richards

Michael Richards went up on stage the other day and got into an apparent argument with some people in the audience. At some point they started heckling him and he started yelling, "n!gger!" I can't find a news story that will say whether the hecklers were black or not, but the fact that the media won't say what color they were would seem to indicate that they were black.

I heard an audio recording of the blowup this morning. Obviously I'm no expert on this kind of thing. I'm sure as hell no stand-up comic. The press is saying he had a "meltdown" or a "nervous breakdown" on stage. Maybe so. Maybe he's stressed out about something. He had a TV show, but it got cancelled. He had a movie, but no one saw it. Maybe he's upset and turned to drugs? I don't know, but that's what the press keeps saying.

I have my own thoughts on this, though, for whatever that's worth, which isn't much because as we all know a blog isn't the most influential voice in the world, especially not mine.

andy kaufman

I remember a stand-up comic named Andy Kaufman. I remember him on the show "Taxi", which I should put in my next list of "I Remember" just to show how old I have become. Anyway, at some point Andy Kaufman decided to start doing a style of comedy that was intended to shock the audience. He would insult them and be a total jerk and make people in the audience mad. No matter how mad the audience got, Andy would never stop doing the act and let them in on the joke. To him it was all part of the show. People in the business called him a genius. I just thought he was a jerk.

Listening to the tape of Michael Richards yelling "n!gger! 50 years ago you [blah blah I couldn't understand this next part] you N!GGER!" And then he starts saying, "See, that shocks you. That's comedy." But by this point the audience is screaming at him. To me, it all sounds like something Kramer would do on "Seinfeld." It all sounds like he thought about how unPC it is for a white man or a Jewish man to call any black person a n!gger for any reason and decided that now was the right time to make a joke out of that. And he did it in a big way, "over the top" as Kramer would have said. If I'm right then he didn't do it very well. And if I'm wrong then he probably is having a breakdown.

I've seen old clips of Michael Richards' standup routines and skits he did with comedy troupes. Sometimes he was funny, but most of the time I thought he was too amused by himself to actually be funny. I loved him as Kramer, but I didn't love him as much else.

Anyway, it's just my opinion, but I think he was trying to be edgy and quirky and shock people into a big laugh. And it didn't work.

* Well, apparently I may already be wrong. Here is an article. And here is the video of the meltdown. It looks different when you actually see it. He lost it. He's done.

And now, courtesy of Resident Weevil, here is a clip of him apologizing.
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