Michael Richards' former boss Jerry Seinfeld has distanced himself from the comic after the racially insensitive remarks Richards made last weekend at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles were made public Monday.
Richards reacted to two African-American hecklers who shouted that he wasn't funny onstage. According to a transcript, Richards responded, "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--." He harassed the men for interrupting him, saying, "You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother------. Throw his a-- out. He's a n-----!" Richards screamed before repeating the racial epithet several times.
At first, the audience was shocked into silence. After continuing his obscenity-laced monologue, one audience member shouted out, "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject."
The tirade was captured on videotape and posted on the TMZ.com Web site. According to The Associated Press, Seinfeld released a statement saying he was "sick over this."
"I'm sure Michael is also sick over this horrible, horrible mistake. It is so extremely offensive. I feel terrible for all the people who have been hurt," Seinfeld said.
And the owners of the Laugh Factory also sought to keep Richards at a distance.
"For 28 years, the Laugh Factory has prided itself on being the only club that guaranteed laughter. Friday night, the club exercised that pledge and refunded money to its patrons for the first time. We are truly sorry for what happened," read a statement released by the club.
"This is a comedy club and while we have always supported the comics' first amendment rights, we have done so with the understanding that they were exercising that right in an effort to be funny."
According to the statement, Richards was due to make an apology during his appearance on Saturday night, but "he failed to do so and disappointed us.
"We have made it clear that he is no longer welcome here. The Laugh Factory is a comedy club, not a forum for personal attacks."
The club, which has hosted Seinfeld as well as Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, the late Rodney Dangerfield, Jim Carrey, Dave Chappelle, Damon Wayans, Chris Tucker and Roseanne Barr, among other comedy stars, called Richards' outburst "hurtful, unacceptable and unprofessional."
Neither Richards nor his representatives have responded to media requests for comment.
Richards, who played Kramer on "Seinfeld," hasn't had a very successful career since the hit comedy series ended its long run in 1998. His short-lived sitcom, "The Michael Richards Show," was quickly canceled six years ago. The seventh season of "Seinfeld" was recently released on DVD.
Another comic, George Lopez, who stars in the ABC sitcom "George," blamed the incident on Richards' inexperience onstage.
Lopez told Los Angeles television station KTLA, "The question is, you have an actor who is trying to be a comedian who doesn't know what to do when an audience is disruptive. … He's an actor whose show has been off the air. He shouldn't ever be on a stand-up gig."
With reports from The Associated Press