Richards says he's sorry for racial remarks
EmptyActor Michael Richards has apologized for using a racial epithet during a stand-up performance in Los Angeles last week, saying in an interview Monday on "Late Show With David Letterman" that he was "really busted up" about the "anger and hate and rage" that he directed at a heckler.
Richards' interview on "Letterman" was arranged by his friend and former "Seinfeld" co-star Jerry Seinfeld, who had been scheduled to appear on the late-night show Monday. As word and Internet video of Richards' outburst Friday at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood spread like wildfire Monday, Seinfeld asked "Letterman" to arrange for Richards to appear via satellite from a Los Angeles set for a live interview with Letterman.
According to video of Richards' performance posted on TMZ.com, Richards yelled "He's a nigger" multiple times, among other comments, after a heckler interrupted his performance.
"I'm really busted up over this, and I'm very, very sorry to those people in the audience, the blacks, the Hispanics, whites — everyone that was there that took the brunt of that anger and hate and rage and how it came through," Richards said Monday from the set of "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" at CBS Television City, where the satellite feed originated.
"I'm concerned about more hate and more rage and more anger coming through, not just toward me but toward a black-white conflict," he said. "There's a great deal of disturbance in this country … and for me to be in a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, you know, I'm deeply, deeply sorry. And I'll get to the force field of this hostility, why it's there, why the rage is in any of us, why the trash takes place, whether or not it's between me and a couple of hecklers in the audience or between this country and another nation."
When pressed by Letterman about why he used racially charged language to respond to the heckler, Richards stressed, "I'm not a racist — that's what's so insane about this," and he cited the "spontaneous" nature of his stand-up work. "I'm a performer. I push the envelope," Richards said. "I work in a very uncontrolled manner onstage. I do a lot of free association."
The video circulating of Richards' performance shows club patrons leaving the room as his tirade progressed. Richards told Letterman that he spoke to some members of the audience afterward and apologized for his remarks. He performed again at the Laugh Factory on Saturday. Club owner Jamie Masada said Richards told him he would apologize for his "hurtful and unprofessional outburst" from Friday. "He failed to do so and disappointed us," Masada said. "We have made it clear that Mr. Richards is no longer welcome here."
Later in Monday's "Letterman" episode, Seinfeld defended his friend without defending his actions. "I know how shattered he is about this, and he deserves a chance — that's why I wanted him to come on ('Letterman'). He deserves a chance to apologize," Seinfeld said.
Richards' outburst comes four months after Mel Gibson made international headlines for making anti-Semitic remarks during his arrest in Malibu for driving under the influence (HR 7/31).