Steve Martin learned the hard way how much trouble one can get into with a single Tweet.
The comedian trotted out some grammar-based gags over the past few days via Twitter, but when he sent out a message that appeared to be racially insensitive the blowback was significant. The humorist explained the situation in more detail on his personal web site today:
I was going along fine when someone wrote, “How do you spell “lasonia?” I wrote: “It depends if you are in an African American neighborhood or an Italian restaurant.” I knew of the name Lasonia. I did not make it up, nor do I find it funny. So to me the answer was either Lasonia (with a capital), or Lasagna, depending on what you meant. That they sounded alike in this rare and particular context struck me as funny. That was the joke. When the tweet went out, I saw some negative comments and immediately deleted the tweet and apologized. I gathered the perception was that I was making fun of African American names.
Martin gently scolded two news outlets, TMZ and Salon.com, for switching a word in his tweet that further made it sound as if the Pink Panther star had made an ugly joke. He also applauded Twitchy.com for apologizing to the comedian after the fact.