KK KRAMER by Brian Roper

Posted: November 22, 2006 in The Roper Files

031075_43.jpg

Michael Richards with one slip of the tongue has become the new liberal whipping-post. You’d think nobody in America (of all places) had ever heard That Word before. The “N” word! Oooh! Sorry, please forgive me as I relish the shock and awe; after all our “progress!” What a bunch of cry-babies.Walk down the aisle of any music retailer, and that same word can be found on the covers of countless rap cd’s. Rappers routinely “joke” about killing white people and no one says shit about it. There are no cries of indignation. No accusations of their being racists.Here comes one of my personal favorite old double-standards about how when blacks/African-Americans say “you-know-what” it’s OK, but if anyone else says it blah blah blah…It’s OK if rappers make it a permanent fixture of their kids’ vocabulary, but in comedy it’s “uncalled for”.Before I proceed any further, ( and I realize I’m tap-dancing on pretty thin ice here) let me ask you this…ever been to a comedy club? When I was younger, I thought being a stand-up would be the coolest job in the world. You hold up a mike and tell jokes. How hard could that be? As a child I worshipped the Three Stooges, W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. I memorized LP’s by Bill Cosby and later Woody Allen and Rodney Dangerfield.I read everything I could find about Lenny Bruce, much to my parents disapproval. I watched every stand-up on TV. I could rattle off their monologues effortlessly..My perspective on all this changed quickly the first time I actually went to a live comedy show, however.

Now this is merely a personal theory of mine, but I think there is a possibility that the main problem is the venue itself; a comedy CLUB, as in a place that serves alcoholic drinks. Sometimes the stand-ups themselves will have a few to loosen up before going onstage and then they slip and say things they shouldn’t. This does happen.

But let’s not forget the two-drink-minimum audience members either; they play a BIG uncredited role in the live comedy experience. People down a few drinks and they think that comedy shows are a participation act, their ticket being a license to act like an idiot.

I drove over to Dallas back in 1983 to see Paul Ruebens. This was shortly after his HBO special and before his first movie came out. He gave it his best, but the rowdy audience would NOT shut up the entire time he was on stage. Seems the Pee Wee’s Playhouse theme couldn’t have been more appropriate; the allegedly adult audience behaved like a bunch of children from beginning to end.

A few years later I went to go see Bobcat Goldwaithe at the now-defunct (and badly-missed) Caravan Of Dreams club in downtown Fort Worth. It was the same scenario but even worse. The Dallas Cowboys were playing Wisconsin the next day and the club was filled with very inebriated football fans who for no reason at all began to chant their favorite teams’ names at each other during various points of the show for the duration of the evening.

Bobcat displayed a most admirable restraint (to say the least) in not telling these imbecilic morons to shut the —- up, even going as far as to tell them:

“Hey folks, Cowboys , Green Bay; it’s like a war between Iraq and Iran. I really couldn’t care less who wins!” But I’m sure he was mentally taking notes to replace his agent for booking him in that Podunk Fort Worth.

If that’s what being a stand-up is all about, you’re sure the hell not going to see me up there onstage anytime soon. It’s a job you’ve obviously got to love.

Considering the crap they have to put up with nightly from their drunken audiences, I don’t see how anybody does it.

Can you imagine going to YOUR job and having people screaming “you suck!” at you non-stop for eight hours ? If you didn’t quit after your first shift, most people would scrimp and save until they had enough money to buy that shotgun or that Glock and…hmmm…seems I’m drifting way off my point here…or am I?

Going back and re-examining the Michael Richards Laugh Factory rant, it looks to me like some sort of Andy Kaufman bit gone wrong.

However, the clip begins as Richards starts to respond to the hecklers. Their initial remarks to him are not heard, only his poor-choice-of words reaction.

And no one seems to notice the reverse-racist name-calling (“Cracker-ass m———–!”) and indirect threats (“We’ll see what’s up!”) that spew back from the audience.

I think the question that needs to be asked is this: if a group of brothas come swaggering out of the Hood (i.e. or as Carl in SLINGBLADE put it: “Drinking and being mean to folks”) and act out dey Thug Life fantasies in public, does Richards really owe them any further apologies? Most thugs aren’t in the habit of accepting apologies, they would just as soon kill you as not once you’ve “dissed” them.

What’s he supposed to do, go into “therapy” and grovel for forgiveness publicly for the rest of his life? Isn’t that Mel Gibsons’ new job ?

Anyone old enough to remember the Rodney King riots knows LA is a racially-incendiary hotbed where one should of course exercise a little discretion in what you say, (and how you say it) when in public. And even more so when you’re speaking into a mike hooked up to a PA system in front of a racially-diverse audience.

Even in stand-up comedy, there are fine lines between something being avant-garde, “cutting-edge” or just plain pressing your luck.

But anyone old enough to remember Sam Kinison or Lenny Bruce also knows that the stage on a comedy club isn’t a church pulpit, either. Sometimes things get said that aren’t necessarily “nice” or politically correct. When you walk through the door of a comedy club, you should be prepared for anything, including having your own personal sensitivities “wedgied” a little bit. One of the things a good comedian does is teach us to laugh at ourselves.

I see (and hear) things on Dave Chappelles or Carlos Mencias shows on Comedy Central that cross all kinds of lines with me personally, (or I consider just plain tasteless) but I’m not launching any honky/gringo fatwah on them anytime soon. However, I’ve never purchased any of their DVDs. I’ve learned to operate the Mute button and the channel selector as well as the on/off switch on my remote. There’s plenty of room on this planet for me as well as Comedy Centrals’ cracker-bashing comics.

So see there America; if I can do it, you can too. It happened. Michael Richards apologized. Now get over it and get a life.

Next time you go to a comedy club, SHUT UP and let the stand-up onstage perform. Heckling is not your God-given right.

And “Cosmo” I can’t advise you running for any kind of public office in the next oh let’s say 20 or 30 years. This just COULD come back to haunt you later.

BR

November 2006

SATURDAY 11/25 UPDATE:

According to the newspaper, two  of the audience members have hired Gloria Allred to file suit against Michael Richards (no doubt smelling deep-pockets SEINFELD money)  Too bad Johnny Cochran’s dead; I could just imagine his flamboyant  delivery in the courtroom now:

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my clients went to the Laugh Factory but as you can see on the clip they wasn’t doing much laughing.  You must find Mr. Richards guilty cause if you get called a nigger, it just don’t figure!”

Shit, I hope I’m not providing Gloria with free material!

BR

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s