Seinfeld Star Michael Richards Discusses His 2006 Racist Rant; Says He 'Canceled' Himself Before Others Could

Michael Richards, reflecting on his racially charged outburst in 2006, opens up about stepping away from comedy, confronting personal demons, and seeking redemption in his new memoir Entrances and Exits.

Published on Jun 15, 2024  |  04:52 PM IST |  54.4K
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Michael Richards (Getty Images)

Seinfeld star Michael Richards opened up to Entertainment Tonight about his viral racist comments from 2006 and the subsequent aftermath that negatively affected his comedic career in an interview published on June 14. The three-time Emmy award-winning actor reflected on the infamous night at the Laugh Factory in November, nearly two decades ago, when he went as far as repeatedly yelling "He's a n****r! He's a n****r!" at a heckler.

Richards also writes about the incident in his new memoir, Entrances and Exits, in which he reveals he decided to "cancel himself" in the wake of the outburst before others could do it.


Michael Richards on stepping back from public life and live comedic scene

"I took myself out. 'You don't need to take me out, I'll take myself out, I'll save you the trouble,'" Richards says of his choice to step away from the spotlight in the wake of his racist comments at an audience member. He needed to get "soul work" done and know himself better, hence the decision, he noted during his conversation with ET.

After the club incident, Richards says he believes losing it the way he did stemmed from anger, noting that in the past he felt "possessed" by the said emotion. Of the incident specifically, the Trial and Error star says he was at war with another person and that's how it came about—through language. "It was very bad language," the actor admits.

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He adds that his overblown emotions on stage came from a place of insecurity and inferiority, noting that he wanted to land as low a blow as possible to the person who rejected him. "The work for me is to find out, well, look, if I'm gonna get all upset because someone says I'm not funny late at night, what's going on with me?" Richards reflected.

Trying to get the pulse of his much-discussed reaction, Richards writes in his book about the trauma he experienced after learning his mother wanted to abort or abandon him since he was a product of rape. Maybe the rejection phobia that Richards experienced on the night of November 2006 has its roots there. 

Richards says he's not trying to make excuses or draw pity for his past behavior through his book


"I don't want any pity, you know," he told ET. "Opening up the way I am, I think it's part of the apology," he added.

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Richards feels it's one thing to say sorry but coming forward and saying "What the hell happened?" and letting people know where you're going with this is completely different, especially when there are so many people involved and affected by a happening. "I didn't want anybody else to carry it for me, I wanted to carry it," he remarks.

Richards' memoir, Entrances and Exits, is out now.

FAQ

What incident did Michael Richards reflect on in his recent interview?
Michael Richards discussed his racially charged outburst at the Laugh Factory in 2006, where he used derogatory language towards a heckler.

Why did Michael Richards step away from the spotlight after the incident?
Richards chose to step away from public life to work on himself, describing it as a period of doing soul work to understand his emotions and behavior better.

What prompted Michael Richards' outburst at the Laugh Factory?
Richards attributed his outburst to anger and feeling possessed by anger at the time. He said he was in conflict with another person and reacted with hurtful language.

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