Does Michael Richards Deserve a Second Chance?

'Seinfeld' alum's new memoir, 'Entrances and Exits,' lets canceled star speak

Few TV characters have made as indelible an impact as Cosmo Kramer from “Seinfeld.”

Portrayed by the rather unique Michael Richards, Kramer wasn’t just a sitcom neighbor; he was a cultural phenomenon. Richards’ frenetic entrances and impeccable comedic timing transformed Kramer into a symbol of comedic brilliance.

Yet, like many towering figures, Richards’ journey has been fraught with tragicomic twists.

In his memoir, “Entrances and Exits,” Richards crafts a narrative as complex as the title suggests—a story of dazzling ascents followed by somber descents into controversy.

Born in Culver City, Calif., Richards grew up in a fractured home, with his mother juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet. The absence of a father figure cast a long shadow, shaping Richards’ worldview and fueling his drive to carve out his own path.

Early on, it was clear Richards was destined for the spotlight. His comedic inclinations were heavily influenced by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. However, it was the zany unpredictability of Jonathan Winters that ignited Richards’ comedic spark, setting the stage for the creation of his iconic character.

Richards’ journey to stardom began in high school plays, where his sharp wit and compelling performances hinted at the illustrious career ahead. A brief stint in the United States Army instilled in him a discipline and resilience that proved invaluable in the cutthroat world of acting.

Upon completing his service, Richards enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts.


At CalArts, Richards immersed himself in a rigorous, avant-garde environment that pushed the boundaries of traditional theater. Here, he honed his craft under the tutelage of some of the industry’s most innovative minds.

His performances during this period were marked by a raw energy and experimental flair, earning him critical acclaim and setting the stage for his future successes.

In 1979, Richards made a memorable appearance in Billy Crystal’s inaugural cable TV special, which was followed by his role as an original cast member on ABC’s sketch comedy show “Fridays” in 1980. Richards’ career took a pivotal turn in 1989 when he was cast as Cosmo Kramer in NBC’s “Seinfeld,” co-created by Larry David and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Despite a slow start, Seinfeld soared in popularity by the mid-1990s, cementing its status as one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history. As Kramer, Richards achieved unprecedented fame, his physical comedy and boundless energy earning him three Emmy Awards and a permanent place in television history.

However, fame proved to be a double-edged sword.

The Day Michael Richards’ Career Died

On the night of Nov. 17, 2006, Richards’ life took a dramatic turn. During a stand-up set at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, Richards, besieged by hecklers, unleashed a racially-charged tirade that reverberated far beyond the comedy club.

In an instant, Richards went from beloved entertainer to pariah, his entire career tarnished as the world looked on in shock and disbelief.

In the aftermath, Richards retreated from the public eye, grappling with the fallout of his actions and embarking on a journey of self-discovery and redemption. “Entrances and Exits” is a brutal, unflinching account of his descent into darkness and subsequent struggle to claw his way back into the light.

It’s a tale of remorse, introspection, disgust and resilience.

Reducing Richards’ narrative to a cautionary tale would overlook the complexity of the human experience. Society often rushes to judgment, eager to condemn without understanding the myriad factors contributing to a person’s downfall.

In Richards’ case, his public meltdown was not merely the result of a single moment of madness but the culmination of years of pressure, stress, trauma, and internal turmoil.

Entrances and Exits” is not just a tale of despair. It’s a celebration of resilience and the indomitable human spirit. Richards’ memoir is a testament to the power of redemption, a reminder that even in our darkest moments, there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Reflecting on his career, Richards pays tribute to the magic of “Seinfeld” and his cast mates—Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander—and the creative synergy that made the show a cultural phenomenon. He also acknowledges the bittersweet reality of leaving such a monumental chapter behind, underscoring the fleeting nature of fame and success.

Richards, a man perennially shadowed by self-doubt and despair, pays homage to Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, two figures who believed in him when few others dared. Steadfast in his resolve to reclaim his narrative, the septuagenarian presents “Entrances and Exits” as a testament to the enduring power of laughter, friendship, and, in many ways, the idea of the American Dream.

Could Richards Get a Hollywood Do-Over?

This work serves as a poignant reminder that even in our darkest moments, comedy has the profound ability to heal, unite and uplift.

As the curtain falls on Richards’ memoir, we are left with a profound sense of gratitude for his journey. Through laughter and tears, triumphs and tribulations, he reminds us that life is a stage, and we are all merely players, destined to make our entrances and exits in the grand theater of existence.

Though the road may be fraught with obstacles, it is also filled with endless possibilities for growth and redemption. In the end, Richards, a man who has suffered for his sins and hasn’t worked for the best part of 20 years, deserves a second chance.

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation. Follow him on Twitter @ghlionn.


  1. Not surprising that scum BUTT HURT over a BLACK STORM TROOPER and a BLACK MERMAID would go to bat for a racist scumbag that deserved to have his ASS KICKED UP INTO HIS THROAT (which is what would have happened if I was there). for saying some of the vilest things anyone has ever heard outside of roots. The funniest thing is you morons think you are “Christians”! That’s a laugh riot.

    1. Keith Diggs, why do you come to this site? Your life must be pretty sad for you to go to places with people you hate, so you can just yell and insult them. I’d suggest going outside more, maybe read a book.

      1. Keith did have several insults in his post and no one takes insults well which is why it isn’t helpful. But he made a good point in bringing up the black stormtrooper and Ariel. Stormtroopers and Ariel are fictional characters so we can make them whatever race we want them to be. Arguing that it’s wrong to make them black is a form of white supremacy. Do you see a connection between that and being arguably too lenient on Michael Richards for, what Keith accurately described as “some of the vilest things anyone has ever heard outside of Roots?”

        As someone who has also been posting on this site recently (and also spends plenty of time outside and reading books), I do it because I want to try to better understand conservative view points that are hostile to black people. I think these conversations are important since both of us I’m sure surround ourselves with people of our own race and viewpoints and so there is little opportunity to find understanding and common ground.

        It doesn’t take me much time or energy.

  2. He absolutely deserves a second chance. Some black celebrities say similar things about white folks and never get called out or held to account for it (check out Sunny Hostin’s ramblings on The View for an example). So why should Richards be forever exiled for getting mad at some hecklers who pushed his buttons one time too many? It’s not like Richards went around calling random black people the “N word” for kicks. He was responding to a couple of specific a-holes who were screwing with his performance. They kind of deserved it in my opinion. Could he have handled it better? Sure. But all he did was say some words. He’s basically paid his penance with being ostracized from Hollywood for well over a decade at this point. Given how much Hollywood loves pervs, pedos and other associated creeps (and allows them to do their dirty deeds behind closed doors with no repercussions), Richards is harmless and should be allowed to try and find work like any other actor.

    1. Michael Richards said “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass” and then he proceeded to call him a Nigger multiple times. He was referring to lynching of black Americans. This is as horrific statement as a human can make. It was tough for me to find Sunny Hostin’s controversial statements on The View but can you please provide any examples of “Some black celebrities say similar things about white folks and never get called out or held to account.”

      You’re saying that they deserved him saying that to them because they were heckling his show? Cmon man. People get heckled all the time, no reasonable person would argue that hecklers deserve to have the most horrifically offensive statement possible made to them. If the hecklers were Jewish would it have been okay to say “80 years ago we would have had you in an oven”? And no he didn’t say it to random black people, but as a black person, I was horrified by what he said because it shows how he feels about black people.

  3. I want to remind everyone what this man said to a black person at his show “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass” and then he proceeded to call him a Nigger multiple times. A lot of people experience “years of pressure, stress, trauma, and internal turmoil” and they do not make horrifically racist and violent statements to people. Does he have schizophrenia or something like that? Does his brain have a problem processing what is real and not real? Does he have Torrette’s Syndrome that causes him to blurt out things that he does not really mean? Those are the only worthwhile excuses for such a disgusting statement advocating lynching of black people to the face of a black person. I mean seriously, upside down and fork up your ass, how does one’s brain even come up with something so awful?

    I’m guessing John Mac Ghlionn is a white person who doesn’t have any black friends, so it’s easy for him to excuse horrific racist behavior against black people.

    The only way I’d be open to consuming anything produced by this man is if he took full accountability for his racism (one’s brain could not produce that statement that he said without having racist impulses) and explain to us how he has worked on his racism for the past 20 years. Yeah okay he who is without sin cast the first stone, fine, but when your sin hurts someone else, we don’t have to fuck with you until you atone for your harm.

      1. LOL. How would you feel if someone said to you “80 years ago we would have had shoved you and your family into an oven”?

    1. Give us your scenario in which he takes “full accountability.” It’s a familiar and overused trope, like “fair share,” that nobody ever really defines.

      1. I think the first step would be to make sure the question are you posing is being posed in a genuine and curious way, not in a dismissive or skeptical way. Then let’s have the conversation about what full accountability looks like and Michael Richards himself can be involved in that conversation via something like a televised interview. If you came to believe, over the course of that conversation, that people aren’t being reasonable towards him, then let’s have that conversation too. It doesn’t make sense to shut down the conversation.

        His statement and the way he treated those black people was not just horrific and unacceptable by 2000s standards, it probably would have been horrific and unacceptable if said in the 50s, 70 years ago. So it was wildly unacceptable to say in the 2000s. Think about it, there aren’t many statements that are more racist than what he said. Even statements like “let’s go back to making black ppl slaves” or “black people are closer to monkeys than human” are very close to if not on the same level as what he said.

        I think I am being reasonable by opening the door to redemption for him. No one is entitled to a career in entertainment.

    2. After castigating Richards for his remarks, James says:
      “I’m guessing John Mac Ghlionn is a white person who doesn’t have any black friends, so it’s easy for him to excuse horrific racist behavior against black people.”
      Several assumptions–all of them racist–about about Mac Ghlionn in just one statement.
      Way to out yourself, James..

      1. Okay so I googled him and it looks like is white, check. I guess I could have said “little to no black friends” to be more exact. How is that a racist assumption? I am making that assumption based on two reasons, number one the fact that America is still quite segregated on racial lines. White people and black people go to different schools (just as segregated as they were during Brown v Board ruling), live in different neighborhoods, attend different churches, etc. And we tend to spend the most time with people of our same race.

        Reason number 2. Do you really think there is NO connection between whether or not a white person has black friends and the way they view this Michael Richards situation? I am making a reasonable assumption that a white person who has multiple black friends and has thus developed a personal understanding of the black experience in America would be less lenient on Michael Richards due to higher empathy for black people and thus less leniency for racism. How many black friends do you have? If you have any, do they all belong to the small group of conservative black people?

        If you consider my assumption to be racist, then that would mean Michael Richards’ statement from 20 years ago was racist times 1000. Would you agree with that?

  4. It’s easy to hold someone’s past against them, while say, ignoring an actor whom we all grew up watching his movies calling half of the country “clowns.” I’m sure that article is being written as we speak, or it should be.

  5. I still like the guy. I know the detective comedy was a bomb, but if I could watch his stand up act, I would.

  6. No question in my mind that the American people are quick to forgive, especially in the case of this beloved performer. Michael Richards punished himself for far too long for his 2006 failure to maintain composure, I suspect there are a lot of opportunities out there for him, I hope he uses his memoir as a springboard to a third and final act.

  7. All these Hollywood stars are very open for the extermination of the Jews, so he didn’t do anything as bad as that. The Jimmy’s did black face and did not get canceled. He should just do a podcast and forget Hollywood. Be his own man and not have to bow down before the woke overlords.

  8. Michael Richards, like Jason Alexander, is so utterly different than his Seinfeld character: serious, thoughtful, absolutely professional. He’s a talented man. Watch his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” episode.

  9. I, and my family, have enjoyed (and still enjoy via streaming) Cosmo Kramer’s pratfalls and self-deprecating humor on Seinfeld. That someone can be “cancelled” for one outburst is ridiculous. Forgiveness is a virtue seemingly absent from those who flock to social media. Someday, one of those demanding this or that celebrity be denied the opportunity for work will make a similar mistake. I hope that person receives the forgiveness they deny to others.

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