Final Episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Features a Manic Michael Richards

Comedian Daniel Tosh, who isn’t known for his sensitivity, to say the least, has a segment on his show Tosh.0 called “Web Redemption” in which he allows people who became the butt of internet jokes to reclaim their dignity. One might refer to the season finale of Jerry Seinfeld’s free web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee as something of a “web redemption” for his guest, Michael Richards, Seinfeld’s Kramer. Like Tosh, Richards had a highly-publicized and very ugly moment onstage at the Laugh Factory in response to some hecklers. I can’t say that I’ve felt a lot of sympathy for either of these guys, both raked over the internet’s coals. But does this final episode of Seinfeld’s breezy series redeem Michael Richards? Maybe a little? Well, it’s definitely fun to watch these two reminisce about their Seinfeld days, especially my personal favorite episode, “Kenny Rogers’ Roasters.”

And it’s also very touching. Seinfeld’s loyalty and concern for his friend after that infamous meltdown always seemed genuine, and here Jerry’s generosity of spirit elevates him to something of a personal cheerleader for the ramshackle Richards—represented in this episode by the car Jerry chooses: a rusty, beat-up 1962 VW van that doubles as a pickup. My favorite exchange, hands-down, gives us a glimpse into the two comedians’ souls: Jerry, sage of the everyday, and Richards, the manic absurdist. Richards, a little shy or just clowning around, puts on a wig and dark glasses:

Richards: “you should put on a hat and some sunglasses”
Seinfeld: “Oh, Michael, free yourself. We’re just raindrops on a windshield.”
Richards: “I wanna know who’s wiping me off!”

It’s gotta be the kind of banter you can’t script. Or maybe I choose to believe that. Once they sit down for coffee, Richards really turns it on. He’s a brilliant raconteur—tells the greatest chess story I’ve ever heard. No spoilers; you’ve got to see it.  Maybe it redeems him just a little–you decide.

Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.



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by | Permalink | Comments (14) |

  • CMStewart

    Richards was redeemed the moment he apologized at the Laugh Factory. Can we all finally grow up and move on?

  • Droy

    Agree with CMStewart. He apologized now get over it. How many years ago was it? What he said was in anger over some hecklers. He shouldn’t have said it but I understand it. Has anyone ever said something that made you so mad that you replied with the most hurtful thing you could think of?

  • Josh Jones

    I find these comments odd. The fact that he apologized or that the incident was several years ago does not in any obligate me or anyone else to like the guy. And no, Droy, I have never felt compelled to shout racist abuse at anyone or make lynching references.

  • J

    thanks for sharing this.
    one little thing: I think you misheard Seinfeld. it’s not “a rusty, beat-up 1962 VW van that doubles as a pickup”, it’s a “a rusty, beat-up 1962 VW van doublecab pickup”. that’s the model name. (I used to have one years ago.)
    thanks again.

  • Droy

    Mr. Jones, I find your continued use of the word “redemption” equally odd. Why not comment about Tosh, Tracy Morgan and Dane Cook redeeming themselves as well? Instead their careers are untouched. Michael Richards career is essentially over. Which is a shame because, I believe, he is a fine actor and much more interesting then Tosh, Morgan and Cook.

  • Josh Jones

    Thanks for the correction, J!

  • Josh Jones

    Droy: I am using the word “redemption” in an offhand comparison between this episode and Daniel Tosh’s “web redemption” segment, as I say above. There’s no particular connotation implied here in the use of the word. And the reason I am writing about Richards rather than Tosh or Morgan or Cook is that this is a blog post about a web episode featuring Richards, not Tosh or Morgan or Cook. If any of those other comedians were in this episode, I would be writing about them. And, for the record, I do write about Tosh and I say above that I do not have much sympathy for him either, so I haven’t singled Richards out just to pick on him for no good reason. I’ve written about an episode that he is in, I’ve compared him to Tosh, used Tosh’s word “redemption” in the comparison, and written about both of their “ugly moments” onstage with hecklers. What about any of this is odd to you? Also, it seems to me that Richards’ career was over before the Laugh Factory incident. There’s no conspiracy here. He might just be like lots of actors who get their one break then wash out. It happens all the time. Get over it.

  • CMStewart

    Nobody has to “like” Richards or Tosh or Morgan or Cook, etc. And nobody has to forgive and move on if they don’t want to. But wouldn’t it be nice if more people did forgive and move on after hearing an apology? Richards’ multiple apologies were obviously genuine. He made a mistake and he owned up to it. What more can he possibly do? Grudges are over-rated.

  • Josh Jones

    I have to say, I find the culture of the public apology pretty bizarre. Michael Richards did nothing to me personally. He does not owe me an apology, and my feelings about him are not personal. It’s simply that I found that incident so distasteful and off-putting that it’s almost impossible for me to see the man without thinking of it. I didn’t see it as a “mistake,” I saw it as revealing something about his character. And yes, I feel the same way about Tosh and Morgan and Cook. I think they’re all pretty distasteful. This is not at all the same thing as a “grudge.”

  • CMStewart

    “I have to say, I find the culture of the public apology pretty bizarre.”

    Same here. But I realize Richards is a public figure, and the public expects apologies from public figures.

    Thank you for clarifying your opinion on Richards et al. I understand your feelings of distaste for the countless comedians, musicians, and other public performers who use derogatory language, and I understand you’ve reacted and made a choice based on your views and perspective. In my opinion, our culture is saturated with offensive language, so much so that people have become partially immune to it. It’s only when the offensive language is unexpected – as in the case of Richards – that we take notice.

  • Josh Jones

    I think it’s a very worthwhile conversation. I don’t personally have any problem with so-called offensive language (see my 8/13 post on George Carlin), and I don’t advocate any kind of censorship–quite the opposite. But it’s one thing to use words in creative and comic ways. It’s another to verbally abuse people. Yes, I do think our culture is saturated with persistent verbal abuse and demonization of various groups of people, and the consequences are pretty disastrous.

  • Ken Buntin

    Kramer, absolutely funniest, most original comedians alive today. Kramer, don’t stop, keep on keepin on. Do monologues on web, in the newspapers, where ever. You have multiple comedic talents! Live while you’re alive.Let the comedy out, release yourself, make fun of you.

  • Arjuna

    hahah lol… have you guys tried out organo gold? http://mycapturepage.com/cp23.php?id=470

  • Maciek

    Meh. I still watch the old episodes and roll around laughing, but apology or not, Richards has lost his shine as far as I’m concerned. And, yeah, throwing a garbage bin on the truck and shouting in make-believe ‘foreign-sounding’ gibberish. It takes a certain kind of mindset to make that association and it’s not one that’s very funny.

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