Seinfeld star: 'I'm no racist'

Richards apologises for outburst

Seinfeld star Michael Richards has made a stumbling, awkward apology on national TV after unleashing a racist tirade against black hecklers.

Much of the 57-year-old comedian’s rant at Los Angeles’s Laugh Factory was caught on video, posted on the internet and picked up by news media across the world.

Last night, Richards, who played Kramer in the top-rated sitcom, appeared on David Letterman’s chat show to make his apology.

In shaky, hesitant voice he said: ‘I am not a racist, that's what's so insane about this,. I lost my temper onstage. I got heckled and took it badly and went into a rage. I said some pretty nasty things to some African-Americans, a lot of trash talk.

During the bitter exchange on Friday night, Richards told the black hecklers: ‘Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass.’

He further taunted them: ‘You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. He's a nigger,’ repeating the racial taunt several times.’

Several punters walked out, and others gasped in shock at his outburst.

Audience member, Darrell Pitts said: ‘He went on a diatribe – on and on and on, using the N-word, basically saying I’m rich and don’t give a fuck what you think. I have enough money to have you arrested. Fuck you.’

Speaking on Letterman, Richards added: ‘I'm really busted up over this. I'm very, very sorry to everyone who was there who took the brunt of that anger.

“I’m not a racist. But it comes through, it fires out of me.

And he said it was right his comments were exposed, saying: ‘It’s important for the Afro-American community to make sure this kind of crap just doesn’t come about.’

His awkward comments, given via satellite link-up, initially prompted nervous titters from the Letterman audience, who appeared initially unsure of the sincerity of the apology.

Jerry Seinfeld agreed that his pal's tirade was ‘extremely offensive’ but added: ‘I've known Michael many years. He's someone I love. I know how shattered he is. He deserves a chance to apologise."

Although Richards reappeared on the Laugh Factory stage again on Saturday, the venue said ‘he is no longer welcome here’.

Click here to view the original tirade, and here to see his apology.

Published: 20 Nov 2006

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