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Jerry Seinfeld takes heat over race remarks

Posted at 7:06 PM, Feb 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-05 19:06:34-05

(CNN) — Don’t ask Jerry Seinfeld about race.

In a recent interview with Buzzfeed on “CBS This Morning” the comedian was asked about the fact that most of the guests on his Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” have been white males. Seinfeld’s initial response was “It really pisses me off.”

“People think [comedy] is the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America,” he said. “Who cares?”

With his Super Bowl commercial, Seinfeld is back on the radar, but his comments come at the same time as debate about diversity in comedy. “Saturday Night Live” hired its first black female cast member in years after an outcry over the show’s lack of diversity.

Gawker writer Kyle Chayka writes that by Seinfeld saying, “I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that,” the comic “seems to suggest that any comedian who is not a white male is also not funny, though he’s also likely fed up with the amount of bad comedy he’s been forced to sit through in his (waning) career.”

“Which is too bad, because Seinfeld is downplaying the work of everyone from Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby to Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, and Eddie Huang, who are all in various stages of their own sitcoms that just might turn out to be the next ‘Seinfeld,’ ” Chayka writes.

It’s not the first time Seinfeld has faced criticism regarding racial issues.

When his hit NBC series “Seinfeld” ended in 1998, the Los Angeles Times had a feature about how it was a “nonevent” for many in the black community because it had never seemed to capture the black audience because of a perceived lack of diversity.

“Observers said that the lack of ‘Seinfeld’ fever among blacks is mainly attributable to the almost total absence of minority characters on the New York-based sitcom,” reported Los Angeles Times writer Greg Braxton. “Some supporting characters — including an attorney modeled after defense lawyer Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. — have been featured in the last few seasons, but many said the show is still seen as a program that excludes minorities.”