The Cynic
A cynical spin on the news.
Monday, November 27, 2006

Hmm...Don't Know If You Should Say That

I have been wanting to write about this whole Michael Richards thing for a few days and finally I've got the moment to do it. In case you haven't seen it here is the actual blowup and why it has caused such a rise from people.



Yikes, he follows up a slave joke with a barrage of racial slurs...That's comedy. Now of course here comes the obligatory apology on David Letterman, which is, of course, a show that gets HUGE ratings in the black community. Why didn't he just stand out in front of the Gap and apologize?



I have come across a LOT of stand-up comedy in my day. I used to be an intern for an entertainment magazine and I've interviewed about 30 stand-up comics over time. My first questions is usually: "How do you deal with being heckled" and most have a few stock comebacks or they can usually ad-lib nothing funny. Oddly enough, the racist tirade never came up as a solution. I can't say this guy is a racist or that guy is a racist, but I will say that it's disheartening to know that this guy was so limited in his thinking that he couldn't think of another word. I'm not going to rag the guy before I give you the right way to deal with hecklers. Take one of my comic genius pantheon members, Bill Hicks, dealing with a heckler the right way.



Now I would never call a female those things, but it works in the end because the crowd dug it. And even Hicks admitted he went a little overboard, but he kept things funny and even mocked himself for doing it. Michael Richards isn't a 1000th of the comic genius that is Bill Hicks. Very few men could bounce back from the stupidity displayed by Richards. I don't expect his career will continue to have the same success it could have and that will be the punishment that he has to deal with.

Stand-up comedy is one of the few arts where being politically incorrect is supported and rewarded. Many of the great stand-ups from George Carlin to Richard Pryor to Chris Rock have all thrived on being politically incorrect and funny. Stand-up comedy is the only place (outside of a Klan meeting) where a white man (or woman) can use the a racial slur or homosexual slur and not start a riot. But the joke BETTER be real funny.

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