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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Comments (16)
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  • CMStewart says:

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

  • Droy says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    Thanks for the cor­rec­tion, J!

  • Josh Jones says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    “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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    hahah lol… have you guys tried out organo gold?

  • Maciek says:

    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.

  • Donie Hicks says:


  • Barbara says:

    I don t like that a beat up VW was the car Jer­ry Sein­feld used for Michael Richards. What a put down!!! Richards was a favorite on his show, so unpre­dictable and out there but he was cer­tain­ly a love­able and amus­ing char­ac­ter and was an inte­gral part of the char­ac­ter ensem­ble of the show. I would have picked a clas­sic Amer­i­can con­vert­ible sedan for him, which would have been more uplift­ing for him. I felt bad see­ing that a junky car was select­ed for him and then all those oth­er celebri­ties got to ride in the top of the line clas­sic cars. I am so dis­ap­point­ed!!! I love the Sein­feld series and spe­cials but had to speak my mind. I think a do-over for this episode is in order.

    I am still a devot­ed Sein­feld fan and love the whole cast!!! I m wait­ing for Lar­ry David to do some standup so I can see him. Mean­while, I love, love, love all the Curb Your Enthu­si­asm episodes.

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