Looking sallow, drawn, and speaking in halting fragments, Richards explained via satellite from Los Angeles to David Letterman and friend Jerry Seinfeld in New York, that he had lost his temper after some members of the audience interrupted his act and that he "took it badly," unleashing the racist invective that TMZ first aired this morning. He apologized to the people who took "the brunt" of his abuse, saying he was "really busted up," but then went on a strange tangent on race relations, saying he was "concerned about hate and rage" and about a "great deal of disturbance between blacks and whites" after Hurricane Katrina.
Richards did not say whether any other factors contributed to his actions, adding only that he would be doing "personal work" in the aftermath of the incident.
Audience members in the Ed Sullivan Theater, who were watching Richards on a screen, began laughing at Richards at first, thinking that the interview was a comedy skit, until Seinfeld admonished them, saying, "Stop laughing. It's not funny."