Michael Richards recently shocked the audience at LA's Laugh Factory. The former Seinfeld funny man was doing his stage act, when he was heckled by spectators. That's when things took a weird turn. Richards responded in what can only be called a bizarre tirade of racial slurs. As the audience gasped, and murmered "Oh my God" under their breath, Kramer continued his rant, pushing a volatile situation too close to the edge. I'm surprised that people didn't storm the stage. Security must've been on stand by, waiting to see if things got out of hand.
Kramer made a bicoastal mea culpe, courtesy of David Letterman. His former co star, Jerry Seinfeld was on hand, to say how 'sickened' he was by the whole thing. Meanwhile, reminiscent of Mel Gibson, Kramer has phoned up American civil rights leaders, asking what he can do to redeem himself. He's already be on the phone with no less than Jesse Jackson, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Maybe he let them in on what came over him. Was it a transporter beam accident, like the one that split Capt. Kirk into good and evil halves. While Bad Kramer swills whiskey, pops pills, and antagonizes his audience, Good Kramer was wandering bewildered through the LA streets, too innocent to find his way. Good Kramer is no more than a helpless bystander, while his evil alter ego destroys his career.
Perhaps there is a more plausible explanation. Richards must've just seen the Borat movie. Since it was a big success; box office no 1 2 weeks running, Kramer decided he would try the same routine. He wasn't expecting it to backfire horribly, and blow up in his face. Why should he? The Borat character is only the latest incarnation of a well known comedy arch type - the 'annoying little bastard'. The Annoying Little Bastard is as old as comedy. He's well known as a buffoon who says and does the wrong things at the wrong time. He pushes situations right over the edge. He sees where the line is draw, and then runs straight across it.
For instance both Homer Simpson and Peter Griffith are annoying little bastards. Griffith is referred to as a 'dangerous retard' by his own son in one episode. Not that I'm implying Richards is a dangerous retard. Well maybe Denise Richards is. As for Homer, he narrowly manages to avoid getting fired, despite offending his boss, town autocrat C Montgomery Burns, time and time again. Think of his 'cheeky impersonation' of Burns, at the old man's 104th birthday bash. By the end of it Homer had a bare bum, and a lump on his head, but he still had a job.
Rob Schiender has made a career out of playing annoying little bastards. He started as the office pest, in a series of Saturday Night Live skits. Then he moved on to Deuce Bigalow. Adam Sandler must've considered friend Schnieder perfect for the role of a man who couldn't get laid in a whore house with a hand full of $50's.
So then Richards was following what he thought was a well established comedy tradition, dating back well before the likes of Don Rickles. It's even inspired me to work on a stand up routine of my own. I appear on stage dirty, smelly, drunk, and a little over weight. In one hand I hold a double whiskey, and in the other a large, stinky cigar. Then for the next 30 minutes I proceed to insult the audience. I'd deliver lines like "Hey lady, is that you stinking up the joint, or are the cops on horseback again?", or "Is that you wife, or did moose hunting season just open?"
I could even be billed as "The Annoying Little Bastard". Comedy club promo posters would feature me smirking, while the banner would read "He's crude, rude, ignorant, and live on stage! Come in and see his act, if you think that you can take it!" If I really do well, I might even make the Leno Show. It would be my moment of glory. As I sit down next to Jay, I'd look at him quite seriously and say, "It used to be an honour for a comedian to do the Tonight Show, but you're no Carson, are you?" That might be the last we'd hear from the annoying little bastard for awhile.
PS. There is a female equivalent to the annoying little bastard, and I call her the 'Attractive Nuisance'. Thing of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, for instance.