Monday, November 27, 2006

Be Fair To Kramer

So yeah, it's kind of sad, the direction that the career of Michael Richards has taken in recent days. Nothing he can say or do will rationally explain his outburst while attempting to deal with hecklers during a stand up routine. Some comics can get away with that sort of thing; a lot of them have an "inside joke" relationship with the audience. Richards does not, apparently. People did not go to his show expecting to be insulted in that manner. A good comic can bring down a heckler without attacking the heckler's ancestry, or threatening him with murder.

He was fun as Cosmo Kramer, but in 2006 Michael Richards has jumped the shark. Especially after he announced that he was running for the cover of Jesse Jackson.

Now, it's tempting to say that "Kramer made racially insensitive comments", since Richards is so closely identified with that one character above all others he has portrayed. But keep in mind that Kramer, the fictional personage, was based on a former neighbor of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. The "source material" just happens to be named...Kramer. And he's not happy about the coverage of what "Kramer" said. From the front page of his official web site:

In no way do I condone or endorse what Michael Richards said or did. It is really annoying, and sad, that people are saying that Kramer is a racist. Michael Richards ceased being Kramer eight years ago. I would hope that the public would be smart enough to make the distinction between a character on a show, the person playing the character, and me, the person the character was based on.

Why should Kenny Kramer care? Because he is an entrepreneur. His is a great American success story, as he has turned his identification with a popular television character into a lucrative business opportunity called "Kramer's Reality Tour". He has fame, notoriety, and undoubtedly makes a decent bit of money with this venture. He has been running the tour for ten years now. As long as Seinfeld lives on in reruns, tourists will want to patronize Kenny Kramer's bus tours.

But -- as indicated in the disclaimer (disKramer?) quoted above -- people might identify the man with the character a little too much. Michael Richards's comments, which have nothing to do with Kenny (or Cosmo) Kramer, have potential to harm the man's business, to say nothing of tarnishing his name and reputation in general.

Which would SUCK, big time. No one should have to suffer the consequences of someone else's mistakes.

If I ever make it to NYC, I might just plan to take the tour myself. Kramer -- the real Kramer -- needs everyone's support. It would be a damned shame if his business drops off because of Michael Richards.


jipzeecab said...

The next day after the Michael Richard's outburst became public Josh Gibson had Kenny Kramer on his Fox News show.
I suspect Kenny Kramer is happy to get any publicity available and has found in this controversy the opportunity to be thrust front and center once again. You are probably aware that there was a boyhood friend of Jerry's named George Constanza who was a real estate salesman, "George's original character", which eventually moved more toward the Larry David personality and who spent many years in court suing the producers because he didn't like the way the character turned out.

Nicko McDave said...

I hadn't heard about that. Here's the Costanza lawsuit story in a nutshell:

And after he appeared in an episode of the show! Maybe Seinfeld was a little too nice to the guy.

I'm glad to hear that Josh Gibson has been resurrected and given and assignment by Fox News. He provides a nice counterbalance to the very blond, bland John Gibson.

jipzeecab said... mom had to explain the Gibson thing to me, but of course she is a librarian and has a mind for such fine distinctions!