Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OJ Can't Get On TV, Michael Richards Can't Get Off


I met Michael Richards twice. Once at a birthday party for the late Phil Hartman and once when I did Seinfeld, the show, not the man. Focus, people.

I was introduced to him at Phil’s party and Michael was gruff, uncommunicative and withdrawn. I thought what I always thought when I met someone in Hollywood who acted like him: He’s high and if he talks, everyone will know.

I did Seinfeld less than a year later. The first person to introduce themselves was Jason Alexander. He walked right up to me and stuck his hand out, welcomed me to the show and gave his name. I’d known Jerry for over ten years since we did standup together in NYC. Julia introduced herself during the actual filming of our scene. But I had no scenes with Richards so I didn’t see him until there was a break on set. I walked over to him and reminded him of my name and that we had met at Phil Hartman’s party. He glanced at me, made some grunting noise and walked away. That would normally not be out of the ordinary given my track record with celebrities. I do make people run screaming into the night.

I didn’t go near Michael Richards for the rest of the shoot. Comedians are notoriously strange individuals with idiosyncratic behavior that can border on the insane, see Andy Dick, Andy Kaufman, Roseanne Barr, Robin Williams and of course, the beloved Donald Rumsfeld. So I passed it off as such.

Sidebar: During the shoot, I stepped on one of Julia’s lines. For those of you who have normal lives and jobs and may not know what that means, it meant I started talking before she finished her speech. The director yelled ‘cut’ and as we waited for notes from Larry David, I apologized to Julia. “What for?” she asked me. I told her I had stepped on her line and would be more careful next time. She said she hadn’t even noticed. Jerry looked at me, took a beat and said, “Your first time doing comedy, Suzy?”

The word on the street in L.A. is that Richards had taken to the comedy club stages some time ago in an effort to remain in the public eye. The word was also that he sucked and sucked big time. He was not a comic. He was a funny actor. I’ve never met a comedian who hasn’t been heckled. It’s part of our job. It’s like a dressing-down from the boss, which in our case is two hundred and fifteen drunken bosses. After years in front of a mike, you get better with the hecklers. You either have previously-used comebacks to shut them up or you ignore them. I make the heckler come on stage with me. I tell him that he is probably funnier than I am so I want to hear a joke. I hand him the mike and walk to the back of the stage. The heckler breaks into a cold sweat, can’t say anything because of the primal fear that doing standup brings out of you like measles on a seven year old, and then hears from the audience the very thing he has been telling the comic, “You suck.”

It’s a beautiful thing.

I’m upset that they cancelled the O.J. interview. The only other person who is as upset as I am is my friend Louise McLoserstene. Even though we both know he’s guilty, we wanted to Hear Him Confess. If I Did It was a confession. After years of hearing people complain and grouse about how he got off scott-free, I would have thought the public would want their pound of flesh.

Yes, we know O.J. just wanted back in the limelight (see Michael Richards' success with that); we know O.J. is a murderer. But if we had seen it, seen him cry like a little girl, the public abuse would have been worse. He would be even more vilified than he is now. Ron and Nicole aren’t coming back any time soon. All we have left is the man who murdered them and was going to tell us how he might have (really did) do it. Yes, I know it’s in the book. But folks, TV interviews are FREE. End of chat.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you too, for your comment on my blog. Harvey's in Portland?

    Your insight into "Kramer" is fascinating. I also heard that perhaps he hadn't done stand up for that long, was too much of an "actor" and didn't know how to handle hecklers. Props to you for how you handled them! So, you have risen to new heights in my eyes with your guest spot in Seinfeld. More details please! Which episode? What kind of character did you play? So cool.

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  2. I got the last chocolate babka in the episode where they all go to a party and Elaine and Jerry go to a bakery while George and The Racist go buy a bottle of wine.

    No, I didn't play Harvey's. There was a better club called The Last Laugh, only it was run by a psycho.

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  3. When I heard Joy B. say that she thinks Richards' career is over, I wondered what you thought. Doesn't sound like it'll be much of a loss to the industry. But I wonder whether it'll impact sales of the new Season 7 DVD set. Can't help but think that's why Jerry had Richards go on Letterman with him. What say you?

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  4. I called Joy this morning and said, "Well, there goes my quarterly $26.00 residual check."
    I don't know what will happen with Richards. If past performance is any indicator in this town, eventually scandal makes you infamous. Mel Gibson's anti-semitic remark didn't stop him and some of the most powerful people in this town are Jewish, so that's disturbing.

    Sadly, the same can not be said for the power held in the black show biz community. And is a hit against Richards a hit against Jerry and Larry? Stay tuned...

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  5. I wanted to see the O.J. "confession" too. Also, what all this about Jeremy Beth-? saying that Michael Richards called her a cunt at the Improv? My feeling is you're no one until Michael Richards calls you a cunt...or was that Michael Richards is no one until he calls you a cunt?

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