Around 6-8 weeks ago, V and I went to The Improv and saw Bill Dwyer, John Heffron, Joe Rogan, and some other random hacks. Oddly, we had received an e-mail from The Improv saying that Seinfeld’s Michael Richards would be appearing, but they didn’t list his name on the program after we got there, only saying that there would be a “surprise guest”. Before Rogan came on, sure enough, Michael Richards ambled up to the stage. Surprise!
Now we were pretty excited to see Michael Richards perform… he’s something of a larger than life figure. But what followed was the most painful – well, it seemed like an hour, but he was probably up for 15-20 minutes – of “comedy” I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t even Pauly Shore or CarrotTop funny. I mean, find a remedial sixth grader, give him 10 minutes to come up with 15 minutes of material, and it would have been funnier than Michael Richards.
At first, the audience gave a few courtesy laughs. (So I asked the cop giving me a jaywalking ticket where I should have crossed, and he pointed to the corner. And I’m like, “but I forgot my canteen”. ahem. ahuh. huh. huh.) But as it became clear that the material wasn’t getting any better even that stopped. And even though other, less tragically unfunny comedians were heckled that evening, nobody had the heart to heckle Michael Richards. It was too sad to see this supposed giant of comedy trying to do stand-up, which he clearly had no business doing. It got sadder, though, as Richards evidently was unwilling to leave the stage until he got a laugh. Eventually, he made some Jesus joke that got a couple chuckles, and high-tailed it off the stage on what couldn’t possibly be considered a high note, but was clearly the best he was going to get. Pity poor Joe Rogan who had to follow that, but did his level best to get us back.
Fast forward to Richards’ meltdown over the weekend. First off, the meltdown is not surprising if he’s been out there since Seinfeld went off the air, using his name to get into comedy clubs that shouldn’t even allow him in the audience. Imagine that, for some reason, every Major League baseball team felt obligated to let me pitch a couple of innings every time I showed up at their stadium, and you’ll have an idea of the kind of failure the man has been experiencing. Couple that with the fact that he’s still out there trying, and you get the ingredients for some kind of meltdown. To quote Morgan Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption: Hope will drive a man insane.
And then there was the truly bizarre Letterman apology.
I went into a rage and said some pretty nasty things to some Afro-Americans…
Afro-Americans? When was the last time you heard that term? The man’s clearly been disconnected for a while.
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, and I’m concerned about more hate and more rage and more anger coming through, not just towards me but towards a black/white conflict. There’s a great deal of disturbance in this country and how blacks feel about what happened in Katrina,
1. Now they’re “the blacks”. He was confused when the audience laughed after he said “Afro-Americans” and he doesn’t know what to do. 2. Katrina? Huh?
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,
Huh? Force field? He’s going to get to the bottom of why nation-states war?
So the man is clearly nuts. And not entertaining pre-batshit insane Tom Cruise crazy, or hopped up on Percoset Paula Abdul crazy… Michael Richards is homeless crazy. And there is nothing funny about homeless crazy.