Published November 21, 2006
LOS ANGELES – "Seinfeld" star Michael Richards made a satellite appearance on the "Late Show With David Letterman" Monday in which he offered a brief explanation and an apology for the racial epithet-laced tirade he unleashed during a stand-up comedy routine.
"For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," said Richards, 57, who played Seinfeld's eccentric neighbor Kramer on the hit 1989-98 sitcom. "I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this," he added, his tone becoming angry and frustrated as he defended himself.
Richards described himself as going into "a rage" over the two audience members who interrupted his act Friday at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood.
Click Here to Watch Video of Richards' Tirade. Warning: Contains profane language and racial epithets.
At one point, however, Richards grew flustered and expressed second thoughts about appearing on the program when his use of the term "Afro-American" caused some audience members to laugh.
"I'm hearing your audience laugh and I'm not even sure that this is where I should be addressing the situation," he said.
The interview with the actor aired on the CBS show Monday night along with an appearance by Richards' former co-star Jerry Seinfeld.
Seinfeld, who had issued a statement saying he was "sick over this horrible, horrible mistake" and calling it offensive, was scheduled as a Letterman guest Monday. He encouraged Richards to make a satellite appearance to talk about the incident, a CBS publicist said.
Richards deserved the chance to apologize, Seinfeld said on "Late Show."
"He's someone that I love and I know how shattered he is about" what happened, Seinfeld said.
Richards' Laugh Factory tirade began after the two clubgoers shouted at him that he wasn't funny. Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--."
He then paced 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.
Moderating his tone at one point, Richards tells the audience, "It shocks you, it shocks you" and refers to "what lays buried."
While there is some chuckling in the audience throughout the outburst, someone can be heard gasping "Oh my God" and people respond with "ooh" after Richards uses the n-word.
Eventually someone calls out: "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. 'Seinfeld,' that's it."
Richards' explanation was reminiscent of Mel Gibson's assertion that he wasn't anti-Semitic after he let off a barrage of Jewish slurs during a traffic stop last summer: despite what came out of his mouth, that's not what is inside him.
Industry colleagues were in no hurry to accept Richards' apology.
Veteran publicist Michael Levine, whose clients have included comedians George Carlin, Sam Kinison and Rodney Dangerfield, called Richards' remarks inexcusable. Comics often face hecklers without losing their cool, he said.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," Levine said Monday. "I think it's a career ruiner for him. ... It's going to be a long road back for him, if at all."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.