From Stand-Up To Shut Up

Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman on Monday's show, which aired Michael Richards's apology.
Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman on Monday's show, which aired Michael Richards's apology. (By Jeffrey Neira -- Cbs Via Ap)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, November 23, 2006

On this day in which we pause to give thanks for this and that, be thankful you are not an African American, Jew or woman who has crossed Michael Richards at a comedy club.

Yes, Michael Richards, who recently clocked David Letterman's biggest number since Oprah showed up last December, when he appeared on CBS's "Late Show" to apologize to "Afro-Americans" for Friday's shocking caught-on-camera rant against African Americans at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.

The man heretofore best known as Cosmo Kramer, Jerry Seinfeld's lovable weirdsmobile made-for-TV neighbor -- seventh-season DVD boxed set out this week -- appears to have cut a much wider swath in his comedy-club slurring, also taking in Jews and women.

TMZ -- the AOL Time Warner gossip Web site that brought us Richards's N-word marathon -- yesterday introduced a video interview it conducted with two people who say Richards went on a similar room-silencing screamfest about Jews during an appearance at another Hollywood comedy club last spring.

And an L.A. comic named Jeremy Beth Michaels has written for the Web about the time she says Richards tried to break the world record for most uses by a misogynist of the C-word in one conversation at a comedy club when she may or may not have accidentally knocked over a recorder he was using to tape his performance.

Yesterday on TMZ, you could watch Carol Oschin and J.P. Fillett as they described their visit to the Improv on April 22. As with Richards's meltdown last week, the incident appears to have been triggered by an audience member.

Oschin said the comic "said something derogatory to a man sitting close to the stage" and when the man retorted, Richards said, " 'You [expletive] Jew! You people are the cause of Jesus dying!' And he just kept on blurting out derogatory statements about the Jews. And the entire club got very, very quiet. We didn't know if it was part of the act or did this guy lose his mind. He got very violent and very agitated."

She says Richards's tirade about Jews went on for several minutes, after which he stormed offstage -- just like last Friday after his tirade about African Americans.

"We thought at the beginning it was part of the act, but very quickly the club turned out to be silent and we realized that it was not part of the act, that it was really an attack on people at the club," Fillett added.

TMZ Managing Editor Harvey Levin told The TV Column that Oschin and Fillett contacted the Web site after seeing the video of Richards's verbal attack. The two had a receipt for the April performance and had "great detail" but, Levin said, TMZ folk were wary because "people come out of the woodwork and make claims" when stories like this break.

But when TMZ called the Improv and "they were very cagey" and gave a "no comment" on the date of Richards's gig, "we started realizing there might be something to this," Levin said.

Then they called Howard Rubenstein.


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