July 13, 2007

"That night, when I was insulted and disrupted, I lost my heart; I lost my sense of humor."

Says Michael Richards, referring to his disastrous n-word rant. "I've retired from that. I'm taking time off to feel myself out, get to know myself and appreciate other people." Like so many Westerners before him, he pictures Asia as the place to search for wisdom:
Richards, 57, and actress Beth Skipp traveled to remote temples before visiting Angkor Wat on a tour sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Nithyananda Foundation. The sect adheres to the teachings of 29-year-old Hindu monk Nithyananda — an avowed "enlightened Master and modern mystic" who's referred to by his followers as "swamiji."...

"I'm not a part of the group. I'm not a devotee. Like I said, I don't wear club jackets, but I honor all the clubs," Richards said. "Life is not always about us or making people laugh. I'm trying to understand the humanity that I am, that I belong to. So, in that sense, I'm part of a group: humanity."...

"What constitutes spirituality is heart," Richards said. "Making people laugh is something else — I did 'Seinfeld' for 10 years — it lightens things up, helps people enjoy the world they live in more. I've had people call me from hospital beds and tell me, 'That Kramer character got me through it. Thanks.' It's pretty simple, you know, the feeling of opening yourself up to others.

"You go through a country like this and see the people close to the land. I see the heart they put into their homes and their lives. I see their children: open-eyed and cheery. You're in the middle of the country and they're waving at you from a motorcycle. When you're right there at that living connection, that's spiritual."
It seems to me that Richards has some pretty scattered thought patterns. He's sort of a tourist and he's picking up a little religious vibe -- either by seeing a bit of swamiji or motorcycling past some little kids.

He was best -- and at least he knows it -- when he was on a script, a good script. He's a comic actor. He doesn't really have much to say. Spirituality. Okay. Fine. It's just too bad he went on the stage off script and said things that make it hard for people to accept him as an actor inside a role -- even retrospectively, as Kramer.

13 comments:

John Stodder said...

Doesn't Richards sound kind of like the Bill Murray character in "Groundhog Day," when he's trying to convince Andie McDowell that he sees himself living in the mountains in five years, surrounded by sincere country people who live close to the land?

This does sound like a pretty good movie premise though. Beloved comedian utters racist epithet, seeks redemption in the mysterious East, gets eaten by crocodile.

AJD said...

Scattered thought patterns.

Nothing to say.

57-years-old.

Annie! He's your soulmate!!

class-factotum said...

Ah yes. The spiritual superiority of grinding poverty.

ricpic said...

Oy vey! Stick to comedy, Richards.

Ann Althouse said...

AJD: I figured someone will say that. The difference is I never say anything racist and never indulge in sentimentality about religion.

Trumpit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Troy said...

AJD... By your lights then, the only creature more pathetic than a 57-year old rambler is the fool who keeps listening and responding to him or her. Commenting as self-loathing. Nice.

Dave F said...

Was Seinfeld done with a script? My understanding is that the method of comedy was very much improvisational: Larry David would sketch out the rudiments of a scene, and the actors would take it from there.

If that understanding is correct it would seem that Richards does better without a script, at least when on TV.

Charlie Eklund said...

"That night, when I was insulted and disrupted..."

Oh, he was the party who was insulted that night.

Fascinating.

Drew W said...

Forget Bill Murray In Groundhog Day. What’s worrying me is the prospect of Michael Richards drawing on his real-life experiences to star in a third version of R. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge.

Except in this version, he seeks enlightenment by trekking restlessly through exotic realms with his sidekick Frank (Jerry Stiller), as the pair attempt to market the manssiere to the pectorally-overendowed men of the Third World.

Kirby Olson said...

How did it first come about that westerners thought Asians had some kind of wisdom? When did this thesis begin?

mcg said...

Well, they were flying kites back when we were still beating each other with clubs, you know!

Peter Palladas said...

You're in the middle of the country and they're waving at you from a motorcycle. When you're right there at that living connection, that's spiritual.

What a total teeming tosspot.

Please don't print such words right when I'm having my tea. Have just voided a decent mushroom, garlic and steamed beetroot-leaf salad all over my spiritual trousers.

Not a pretty sight. Will take a full-on Swampy the Muppet moment to cleanse my soul and save the threads.