Steve Martin has apologised after making a joke that he later conceded was "highly inappropriate".
The funnyman was engaging with fans on Twitter and asked then to submit questions about grammar. When one asked "Is this how you spell lasonia?", the star replied: "It depends. Are you in an African-American neighbourhood or at an Italian restaurant?"
However, Steve apparently quickly realised his joke could have been viewed as offensive and deleted it.
The 68-year-old apologised, and later shared a fuller explanation online.
He said: "I was riffing on Twitter, inviting people to ask me grammar questions. I replied with what I hoped were funny answers. For example, a person might write 'What's the difference between then and than?' I would say, 'then is a conjunctive preposition, and than is a misspelling of thank'. I have done similar things to this on other occasions, and there is a great spirit of fun between me and the Twitters followers.
"I was going along fine when someone wrote, 'How do you spell lasonia?' I wrote: 'It depends if you are in an African American neighbourhood 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 apologised. I gathered the perception was that I was making fun of African American names.
"Later, thinking it over, I realised the tweet was irresponsible, and made a fuller apology on Twitter."
Steve also addressed the fact that his joke had been misquoted by some gossip sites.
And he concluded: "Comedy is treacherous. I used to try out jokes in clubs and the audience's feedback would tell me when I had crossed a line, or how to shape a joke so it is clear. Today, the process is faster. It's your brain, a button, then millions of reactions. But it's my job to know."