Apparently, he went off on a heckler while attempting to perform stand-up at the Laugh Factory last Friday.
Just reading what he said, it's easy to think that Richards was going for a joke about the man's ethnicity. He was attempting to point out some sort of racial bias or something.
Then I watched the video.
The camera started rolling just as Richards began his attack, screaming at one of the men, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass."You can see he was trying to be funny, but he failed miserably. Its one of those moments where you just know that some of his friends in the audience were thinking "oh shit." From the audience's perspective, this was someone crashing and burning live on stage. Crashing and burning in spectacular fashion.
Richards continued, "You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. He's a nigger! He's a nigger! He's a nigger! A nigger, look, there's a nigger!"
Seizing the opportunity, TMZ has put up a couple of polls about the event. As of this posting, out of 108,082 votes, 60% think Richards is a racist and out of 74,189 votes, 68% say Richards is worse than Mel Gibson.
Richards should be expecting a lovely gift basket and thank you note from Mel any day now.
UPDATE: Richards appologized via satellite on the Late Show With David Letterman this evening and of course, TMZ has the video clip.
I have had the opportunity to personally meet Mr. Richards and although I cannot judge his character in the few minutes that we talked, I can say that in this instance, I think he was trying to be sarcastic and not actually that incredibly racist. Its hard to say.
All I know is that with sweeps winding up this week, you can bet good money that the network news will be frantically working overtime to put together some kind of an expose on racial prejudice in the entertainment industry. Be prepared for lots more about Kramer's fall from grace.