We asked Chris Mazzilli, owner of popular New York comedy club Gotham (scene of Seinfeld’s film Comedian), for his opinion on the Michael Richards incident. How will this affect Richards’ comedic career? His chances of performing at other comedy clubs? Has he become a pariah?
“It’s an unforunate thing, and really the public will decide that. Obviously, he apologized right away and I think he’s really sorry for what he did. At the end of the day, the public will decide, and I think his next moves are important. What Seinfeld did was a classy move, standing by his friend on Letterman. Hopefully people will find it in their hearts to forgive him and move on with it.”
Mazzelli followed this with another point that’s been left out of much of the discussions thus far: Where was the Laugh Factory in all of this?
“What’s interesting to me, being in the club business, [the heckling] had been going on for a while,and the club should’ve intervened. It should not have gotten that far. Comedy isn’t a dialogue, it’s a monologue. That doesn’t discount what he said, but he shouldn’t have to deal with that stuff.”
And beyond interrupting the hecklers—why didn’t they stop the slur-spewing Richards? Why, as the Times points out, was Richards allowed to come back to the Laugh Factory and perform the next night, after all this had happened?