Bullitt's Bros

Sunday, November 26, 2006

For what it's worth...

I figured I'd throw in what I know about the whole Michael Richards thing.

I went to my friend Saleem's place for Thanksgiving. He and I started doing stand-up together in the early 90's and I have known him ever since. Now we're both in LA and he's doing pretty well as a comic, he was on the Tonight Show not too long ago. Anyway, Saleem is black and a stand-up and he knows Michael Richards pretty well so I thought I'd ask him about it.

In his opinion, Michael Richards is not a racist but he is a very angry person and needs to get a hold of that, obviously. Saleem has seen Richards attack people worse than he did with those guys at the Laugh Factory, although not with the same words. In Saleem's opinion, Richards' worst problem is with anger.

I have heard a few people say that Richards, as an "expert" stand-up, should have been able to deal with hecklers better. The fact is, he is not an "expert" by any means. He has only been doing stand-up about two years off and on and his celebrity status has gotten him gigs beyond his abilities that actually hurt his development (even celebrity affirmative action has its perils). Saleem thought Richards was going for some Andy Kaufman-style comic provocation but, of course, Richards is not Andy Kaufman and couldn't pull it off. Also, let it be known that these guys did not, as they claim, just order drinks as instigation. They did heckle Richards for a while before he snapped. His reaction was still bad, but it wasn't totally random.

I am no particular defender of this guy. Saleem said that Richards' main thing is to get up on stage for half an hour and attack religion and anyone who happens to be religious. It sounds awful and I heard from Saleem and others, long before this, that Richards is no good as a stand-up. So for what it's worth, that's what I heard about this whole thing from a guy more in the know than most of us.

But the reaction certainly has been interesting. Everyone points out that this guy is a has-been, and he is... so why is this so important? Why is it national - international - news that a guy from a sit-com that went off in the mid-90's used racial epithets in some night club most people will never see? Because contrary to what people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson say, this is very uncommon. So uncommon that this guy who has been out of the public eye can say "nigger" and bring down the whole world on his head. I would say that's some evidence of progress on the civil rights front that most of these race hustlers would like to deny.

And the whole Al Sharpton thing is just hilarious to me. In the press at least, he truly has been annointed king of the black people. You insult a couple of guys in a comedy club and you apologize to Al Sharpton. If you find a pen that belongs to a black guy, you can return it to Al Sharpton. If there's some black guy you hate and you want to punch him, punch Al Sharpton instead...

Hey, suddenly this king of the black people thing ain't so bad.

Actually, I am not advocating punching Al Sharpton but I do advocate ignoring this guy. Where does he get off acting as the barometer for all black racial issues in the country? His career started with a massive fraud and his tactics have never really changed. He is a race huslter who should be ignored.

Apologize to the people you insulted, Michael Richards, not this guy.

And lastly, if he pays money to these jokers it's truly the end of the First Amendment. No matter what you think about what he said, you can't get any more of a free speech argument than this.

3 Comments:

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    By Blogger H. Lewis Smith, at 8:57 PM  

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    By Blogger BIG, at 11:57 PM  

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