You know you’re in serious trouble when Reverend Al Sharpton rejects your apology and says you need to do more than just say “sorry.” That’s what happened after Michael Richards (aka “Kramer” from Seinfeld) spewed an n-word-filled tirade at some black hecklers at an LA comedy club in 2006.
Video of Richards’s bizarro meltdown, which opened with a reference to lynching, was captured on a cell phone camera and promptly beamed across the internet. Highlights include:
• “Fifty years ago, we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass.”
• “Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger. He’s a nigger. He’s a nigger.”
• And: “That’s what happens when you interrupt the white man.”
Richards was probably lucky the club’s patrons were armed only with cell phones, although he might have preferred receiving a deadly beatdown to what followed: Richards instantly went from universally loved (as Kramer) to almost unanimously vilified (as a racist, washed-up, talentless comedian). The incident now permanently resides in the pop lexicon, having been lampooned on both South Park and Family Guy — twice. — Tony Carbone