Here's what we know:
- Richard's career has been moribund since Seinfeld went off the air
- He didn't work stand-up in his early days. He was a sketch artist (If you're of a certain age, you might remember him from the short-lived SNL clone, Fridays. Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) was also on this show.
- The heckler who first taunted him wasn't African-American.
- A few days prior to the well-publicized meltdown, Richard's performance included vicious attacks on women and Jews (Richards is Jewish.)
But at some point, the comic alerts his/her audience to the joke. Richards, if he was attempting to walk in the giants of this comic art, failed miserably. If he wasn't, then he needs help. With his rage, his racism, and his misogyny.
Many moons ago, when I was very young, I did stand-up comedy. (Trust me, even with death, divorce, and childbirth in my history, stand-up comedy is harder.) Being heckled is part of the job. How a comic handles it marks him/her as a professional ... or not.
I liked Richards, thought he was a terrific physical comic actor. A first-rate second banana. But a little of him goes a long way. Now? A little of him is way too much. Richards should seek out his friends for help and intervention and stay off the stage until he gets himself together and into some serious therapy.