Enjoying this thread quite a bit.
Guest, you hit it on the head for me when you mention "Kauffman not being influenced by anybody". He was, of course, but not neccessarily by past comedians. He was certainly influenced by the "Kids' TV" he grew up on..witness his take on Mighty Mouse. The kiddy style theme song juxtaposed with the operatic Baritone intoning "Here I come to save the day" would not have been funny to an eight year old, but an adult might have found it incongruous. Andy didn't mess with it at all...he simply re-created it verbatim to an adult audience...and it was side-splitting.
I've tried to see if I could agree in any part with Jeri's take, but in fact Kauffman's humour seems to me to be far less about "making fun of other people", than simply getting huge laughs at his own expense. Oddly enough, while I was driving last week, I listened to old radio programs of Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Groucho Marx...surely all "politer comics". Not so at all. All three got virtually everyone of their laughs at others' expense. Their humour victims included: "dumb Irishmen", "looking Chinese" (for whatever bizarre reason, Benny told at least five jokes with this theme) "dumb factory workers", people with speech impediments, "greedy agents"(read Jewish), Kids who liked "swing music" rather than older pop music, over-weight people (several times) and of course, just the appearance of a black man (Rochester, of course) brought gales of laughter.
Nope, love him or hate him, I don't think Andy's humour was belittling of others. Seemed to be directed strictly at the characters who made up Andy.(and there were many)