Richards Apology Boosts Letterman Ratings

Michael Richards appeared on Monday (Nov. 20) night's "Late Show with David Letterman" to offer an apology for his public racist tirade, sending the show's ratings soaring.

Joining Letterman and former co-worker Jerry Seinfeld via satellite, Richards attempted to explain and express his regret for the Friday night incident that circled the Internet on Monday thanks to a video posted by TMZ.com.

In the clip, Richards responds to some vocal audience members at a comedy club performance with a series of increasingly shocking racial slurs, building to a crescendo of ""You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherf**ker. Throw his a** out. He's a n****r! He's a n****r! He's a n****r! A n****r, look, there's a n****r!"

Appearing on "Late Show," Richards appeared solemn.

"You know, I'm really busted up over this and I'm very, very sorry to those people in the audience, the blacks, the Hispanics, whites -- everyone that was there that took the brunt of that anger and hate and rage and how it came through, and I'm concerned about more hate and more rage and more anger coming through, not just towards me but towards a black/white conflict," Richards said in the seven-minute segment. "There's a great deal of disturbance in this country and how blacks feel about what happened in Katrina, and, you know, many of the comics, many of performers are in Las Vegas and New Orleans trying to raise money for what happened there, and for this to happen, for me to be in a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, you know, I'm deeply, deeply sorry."

Letterman cut Richards no slack and frequently interrupted for clarifications on various points. The 57-year-old actor became increasingly frustrated and emotional.

"I'm not a racist," he insisted. "That's what's so insane about this".

The show's overnight ratings were the highest in nearly a year. "Late Show" did a 5.2/13 in metered markets, beating "The Tonight Show" by 18 percent. It was Letterman's best metered market performance since Dec. 1, 2005, an episode featuring a visit by Oprah Winfrey.