After returning home from another brilliant Monkey's Uncle improv show last night, I was hungry for more hijinks and flipped on "Seinfeld." There are few shows I never tire of ("I Love Lucy", "Sex in the City", etc.) and this is one of them. Doesn't matter how many times I have seen the episode, I still laugh uproariously.
There I was, marveling at the collective genius, when I had an impulse to switch channels. By sheer chance, I stumbled across Jerry Seinfeld guesting on David Letterman, discussing Michael Richards' very public display of racist rage in the middle of his stand-up act last weekend. To my surprise, Seinfeld was quite serious and trying to make amends for his friend. Next thing I know, they've got Richards on satellite, looking older and visibly distraught, struggling to explain his reprehensible actions.
Just seeing Richards face brings visions of Kramer famously whizzing into Jerry's apartment and so the audience began to laugh, as did I. Then, Seinfeld uncharacteristically tried his hand at seriousness and chastised the audience, "Don't laugh. It's not funny." That alone, was surreal – like Madeline Albright launching into a striptease or Dick Cheney doing a guest voice on 'The Simpsons.' Awk-ward.
But not half as awkward as Richards himself. While he sputtered and fidgeted, it took a while to sink in that the man was deadly serious. I had to get up and brush my teeth in the middle - it was that hard to watch. I picked up some nervous laughter in the audience and again, they were called on it. "I hear some of your audience members laughing," Richards said to Letterman, "and this is no laughing matter." After that, you coulda heard a pin drop. This was television at its weirdest.
So, what is the deal lately with celebs going bonkers these days? Tom Cruise is beyond repair in my book – the three-minute "I'm really not gay – see look!" kiss at his own wedding is just another example of his inner struggles. Can't exactly blame the media – it's not like Mel Gibson was being trampled by paparazzi when he went drinking with his inner anti-Semite and trotted him out for all the world to see.
It's not so much the meltdowns that I am tiring of – because those can be really fun – it's the barrage of earnest apologies that are starting to chafe. I'm not saying that Celebs Gone Postal should not make amends but it's starting to feel like the soup of the day.
I feel like some enterprising broadcast executive could start an "All Apologies" network (theme music by Nirvana) and just run them 24/7. You think I'm joking but remember, folks laughed at Ted Turner – "Who wants to watch news all the time?" (I also had the same idea for car chases but I think "Cops" now has that covered.)
Admittedly, I have a soft spot for celebs who do not apologize for every mistake. Despite going barefoot in a public restroom, driving with her infant in her lap or chomping gum through a major interview, Britney Spears' best quality may be that she just doesn't give a shit, hence, the fascination. Instead of Richards' promise to "take some time off, do some personal work," Britney just shrugs, snaps her gum and says in her Louisiana twang, "We're country, that's just how it is."
Obviously, Richards is mortified by his actions, as he should be, and seems as shocked as anyone that he's actually an angry racist. Admittedly, targeted members of the audience had found his weak spot - his failure to succeed post-Seinfeld - and were taunting him about it.
We all have angry buttons and apparently, mine is watching the morning express bus driver casually forget to stop and pick up me and my fellow shivering commuters. In San Francisco, I completely snapped during one occasion and attacked just such a bus. Crazed and frothing, I nearly got run over as I tried to board it at 35 mph. I'm pretty sure I even beat my fists on a passenger window in a full-blown rage as people grabbed their children away from the raging psychotic that I was. Nope, it wasn't my finest hour and you know what?
I'm not sorry.