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Andy Kaufman

Brendy 05 Dec 00 - 08:37 AM
MMario 05 Dec 00 - 08:50 AM
Whistle Stop 05 Dec 00 - 10:52 AM
Steve Latimer 05 Dec 00 - 11:05 AM
Rick Fielding 05 Dec 00 - 11:50 AM
Branwen23 05 Dec 00 - 01:01 PM
Clinton Hammond2 05 Dec 00 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Matt_R 05 Dec 00 - 01:07 PM
Jim the Bart 05 Dec 00 - 01:27 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 05 Dec 00 - 01:44 PM
catspaw49 05 Dec 00 - 01:45 PM
Whistle Stop 05 Dec 00 - 02:41 PM
Peg 05 Dec 00 - 04:57 PM
catspaw49 05 Dec 00 - 05:07 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 05 Dec 00 - 05:09 PM
catspaw49 05 Dec 00 - 05:15 PM
Greyeyes 05 Dec 00 - 05:24 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Dec 00 - 05:38 PM
Branwen23 05 Dec 00 - 05:46 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 05 Dec 00 - 06:15 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 05 Dec 00 - 06:17 PM
MAG (inactive) 05 Dec 00 - 06:24 PM
Jeri 05 Dec 00 - 06:47 PM
Bill D 05 Dec 00 - 06:55 PM
Jeri 05 Dec 00 - 06:58 PM
GUEST 05 Dec 00 - 07:35 PM
GUEST,LEJ 05 Dec 00 - 07:46 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Dec 00 - 09:23 PM
Seamus Kennedy 05 Dec 00 - 10:25 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Dec 00 - 11:18 PM
Brendy 06 Dec 00 - 09:11 AM
LR Mole 06 Dec 00 - 10:15 AM
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Subject: Andy Kaufman
From: Brendy
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 08:37 AM

I saw the film 'Man on the Moon', recently, starring Jim Carrey, which documented the life and times of Andy Kaufman.
Outside of his appearances in 'Taxi', I knew nothing at all about this rather special....how would you describe him....performance artist.

Seems there was a lot more to this guy than met the eye. As his fame never really spread to this side of the pond (not that I'm aware, anyway), I was wondering if anyone ever saw a gig of his, or just what did you think of him?

Carrey did, IMO, an excellent job in portraying this complex man - I wish he would stick to rôles like this, instead of wasting himself on rubbish such as 'Dum and Dummer' (or whatever that film was called).

B.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: MMario
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 08:50 AM

I was fascinated by the movie - which was rather odd, as I never cared for Andy Kaufman except for his role in Taxi (I detested him on SNL) and I don't care for Jim Carey. The movie was well done though...


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 10:52 AM

I think this guy belongs in the "we like him because he's dead" thread. Andy Kaufman didn't have a lot to say, but he still managed to say it in a uniquely annoying manner. It's always sad when someone dies before his time, but I can't say I miss him.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 11:05 AM

Comedy is as important to me as music. I have to say, I never "got" what was funny about Kauffman.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 11:50 AM

Wow, I guess I'm the dissenting voice (so far) here. I'd have to put Andy Kaufman near the very top of the list of people who've made me laugh hysterically over the years. Like a lot of total risk-takers, he seemed to be extremely troubled, and his bizarre personal behaviour made it tough on people around him, but for a few short years he was the most inventive comic I've ever seen.

I remember seeing one of his first appearances on Saturday Night Live, where he did his "Shy foreign man" character (similar to Latka, on Taxi). This timid stumbling little person morphs into the most astonishing Elvis impersonation you could ever imagine.

He did a bit on David Letterman's show once that ended in a fist fight and threatened lawsuits with one of the other guests, that for years I thought HAD to have been totally legit (til I read the book) and found that it was scripted ahead of time.

I have to agree that Toronto's Jim Carrey, gave a wonderful performance in the film, and that I can barely stand to watch the rest of the drek that he saddles himself with....but that's the point, I guess. Carrey is HUGELY popular...loved by some, hated by others. Kaufman was to me, a great comedian, to others, a complete waste of time.

Brendy, oddly enough, while on the road the last week, I listened to the "talking book" biography of Andy (NOT the one the film was based on), and it was completely fascinating. I've briefly forgotten the title (another senior moment) but if you'd like, I'll get it for you. Perhaps the tape or the book is available in one of your libraries..that's where I got my copy. Bet you'd find it interesting.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Branwen23
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:01 PM

I have to agree with you, Rick... Most of Kaufman's performances were a little before my time, but I have seen most of the recorded material that's out there, including the SNL performances, episodes of TAXI, and the Letterman spots. I have also seen several TV bio shows and tributes to Kaufman, and feel that he was a great person and comedian.

He was one of the most unique and innovative comedians of this century, falling into a similar category with Chaplin and Keaton; though the styles are completely different, the determination to be different and to constantly look for new ways to make people laugh, and to make people think, was shared by all three.

I believe that Kaufman's death was a tragic loss.


-Branwen-


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:05 PM

I guess that's the great thing aobut opinion eh... Everybody has their own...

I think putting Andy in the same catigory as Chaplin and Keaton is insulting to them... I never found him funny much at all, even on Taxi...

And well, wild horses couldn't drag me into Man In The Moon...


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: GUEST,Matt_R
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:07 PM

Andy, have you heard about this one?


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:27 PM

I remember seeing Kaufman on SNL doing the "Mighty Mouse Theme" bit - it was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing things I had seen on TV since Ernie Kovacs (yes I am O-L-D). I believe you have to put Kaufman in that context. He, like Kovacs, Steve Allen, Soupy Sales and a number of other TV pioneers, understood that TV had possibilities way beyond just ENTERTAINMENT.

This is not to say that Kaufman and the rest weren't entertaining, too. The foreign man was way funny (but not really unprecedented; Frank Fontaine's "Crazy Gugenheim" character on Jackie Gleason's variety show did a transformation from drunk to surprisingly capable Irish Tenor that paralleled Kaufman's geek to Elvis). The key to Kaufman's act was that he was not willing to settle for making you laugh. He wanted to make you uncomfortable and take you out of your day-to-day mindset.

What Kaufman forgot, and what eventually undid him, is that the situations that he constructed weren't funny if you weren't in on the joke. And at the time he did them, we weren't. Like Rick, I never realized the fight on Letterman was faked until I saw the movie. And the woman wrestling. Now, he's funny- not because he's dead, but because we have finally been let in on the joke.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:44 PM

Ahh, the elections baving been beaten to death, we find yet another thing to fight about in this "Friendly, Friendly World"--The thing about Andy's humor is was intended to get the response that it does from the people who didn't get it, and didn't like it--He would have loved Clinton Hammond's response to his work--

The film didn't really do Andy justice, simply because Andy was really funny all the time,--there are a few documentaries with Andy stuff around, his famous NBC comedy special, and a wonderful piece on his professional wresting career, which includes all of the wrestling stuff that was in the film, and the real TV fight with Jerry Lawler which Rick talks about above--you will be amazed to see how much funnier the routines that were featured in the film were when Andy did them. in the US, this stuff has been shown a lot on cable, including A&E, the Comedy Channel, and VH-1--maybe they have been broadcast on your side--unfortunately, because video tape formats are not the same, it is nearly impossible to share his stuff with you that way--

Just a question here, for Rick--did you watch wrestling as a child?


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:45 PM

I loved Lenny Bruce.....still do. And Richard Pryor. Men who could make you laugh, cry, and squirm, at the same time. And I loved Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar, Steve Allan..........all brilliant and perceptive in understanding comedy and the many ways that TV could be used. And I loved Keaton and Harold Lloyd who took finely crafted characters into situations both frightening and funny with their genius. And I loved the wordplay of Groucho and the writings of George Kaufman.

Personal opinion? I saw a lot of Andy Kaufman outside of "Taxi." From his Mighty Mouse to Foreign Man to Elvis to Pro Wrestler. He isn't/wasn't worthy to clean the dog crap off the shoes of the others and in fact may be the dog crap.

Opinions are like assholes. I have one, I may be one, but Andy Kaufman was the King of all assholes.

But.....I do like Jim Carrey in the roles like this though. Thought he was excellent in "Liar, Liar."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 02:41 PM

So are we separating into two camps -- the people who like Kaufman and hate Carrey, and the ones who hate Kaufman and like Carrey? I personally think Jim Carrey is a gifted physical comedian, who is very funny when he's at his best. I will grant you, he has taken on a lot of questionable roles. But in the good stuff, I think he's great.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Peg
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 04:57 PM

I loved Andy Kaufman's humor. I was quite upset when I heard of his early, tragic death.

I still have not seen this film though I hear it is very good (I'm not such a Jim Carrey fan).

I think all these folks saying "how dare you campare him to Chaplin" etc. are missing the point. Kaufman was from a whole different era. No one could ever match Chaplin or Keaton and what they did with such art and brilliance; but Kaufman wasn't working in silent film. It's not fair to draw a comparison when the content and form of their work was so vastly different. But I would place him up there with some of the great modern comedy innovators: David Brenner, Denny Johnston, Robin Williams, Gary Muledeer, Gallagher, and the older greats like Pryor, Bruce, Jonathan Winters, Sid Ceasar, Abbott and Costello...

Just because he purposefully did things to get a rise out of people (thus earning the asshole appellation so fondly attributed to him) doesn't mean he wasn't a comic genius. And it does sound like some of you are forgetting the problematic personal lives of some of our other greats like Mr. Bruce and Mr. Chaplin...why should we think of them as lesser comedians simply because they had some difficulties with relationships, etc.? (I am oversimplifying this a bit but it isn't my main point, anyway)

I'm with Rick; you just have to watch that footage of Andy morphing from the shy foreigner into the Elvis impersonator to see what a great talent this man was. I would hazard a guess most of those here putting him down didn't actuallly see very much of his material outside "Taxi."


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 05:07 PM

Ah yes....the "you don't get it" argument. Thanks Peg.

I wholly admit to being a cretinous, uncouth, dimwitted, schmuck. A complete slug. My sincerest apologies for lacking the insight and acumen to perceive the genius which sprang from him. I shall go and view the footage again with a more discerning eye to his subtle brilliance.

Where's the Maalox?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 05:09 PM

I think we are divided into the people who like Andy and the people who would kill us if they could catch us, pure and simple--

What about Charlie Chaplin, Spaw? Why didn't you mention Chaplin? Don't you like Chaplin? Hmm...


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 05:15 PM

Not especially.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Greyeyes
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 05:24 PM

Matt R, now you've got me humming that tune.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 05:38 PM

Speaking of doing things to get a rise out of people - I wonder what you admirers of Andy Kaufman think of The TOM GREEN Show on MTV?


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Branwen23
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 05:46 PM

Tom Green is certainly inventive. I like a lot of his material. His spontanaeity is unique. Occasionally I think he crosses the "Offensive line". I don't think that as far as the material is concerned, Green and Kaufman can be closely compared. Green's material is quite different. But I think that he is also a unique and inventive comedian.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:15 PM

I just think Andy was funny, Spaw, but I admit that my taste is questionable, after all, I find you rather entertaining--


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:17 PM

In my never so humble opinion I thought the movie about Andy was wonderful. It did not, however, come close in capturing him as did the book---Andy Kaufman Revealed, written by his friend and collaborator Bob Zmuda. You laugh and you cry when reading it.

Let us dispose of Jum Carrey right away--he was, in my opinion, really good in the film. He finally sublimated his usually annoying persona. I bet the French love hm as the do Jerry Lewis---birds of a feather.

I first saw Kaufman on a TV special so many years ago---Dick Van Dyke and he introduced him in the most wonderful put - on---Andy's forte. The nerd comes on and you wonder who the hell this is---then he IS Elvis. Amazing.

His put ons and his performance art is well covered in the film, but, again the book gets it even better.

My own feeling is that he belongs in that pantheon of the DIck Gregorys,Bruces,Pryors, and one other person that is rarely spoken of---except by cultists such as myself---a performance artist before the term came into use. THEODORE.

Now 94 yrs old--and I had the pleasure of interviewing him when he turned 90 and was still performing. He, like Andy K. put the audience on each night with bizarre tales---only 2 recordings in his life--extremly rare. One was ---just like Kaufman so many years later--a live midnight concert at Carnegie Hall.

But, as to Andy Kaufman. To my mind a comedy/performance artist genius--and those of you who have read the book will know that he hated the "Taxi" job. Did for the money---and Judd Hirsch despised him. Not so the others.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:24 PM

Having had some younf Tom Green fans come in to my library and pull a Tom Green, I can say I am underwhelmed by the concept. since my TV is dead I don't have to check him out. (The kids were very surprised when I snatched the borrowed camera and held it hostage until I got an apology.)

I liked the movie, don't remember andy on SNL, never saw Taxi, and am not surprised the movie bombed at the box office


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:47 PM

I didn't think he was funny most of the time, and I got it. I suppose if I liked to laugh at people being made fools of, I might enjoy some of his humor more. The Mighty Mouse thing was funny, and the Elvis impersonator, but I don't care much for performance art. I didn't like the comedy special (on HBO?) he did where he threw a tantrum to get a rise out of the audience, the fake fight on Letterman to get a rise out of the audience, and I didn't much care for an art teacher I had staging his own fake shooting by a student. I knew that was going to happen, and I got to stand back and watch the other kids react. I did not think it was "funny."

Sorry, folks. Everybody has a right to their own opinion.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:55 PM

I saw a lot of Kaufman...and he could be outstandingly funny at one moment and embarrassing the next...he seemed to me, in his later years, to lose track of the dividing line between comedy and simply 'happening'...but even his 'happenings' were often inspired...(like the time he did a show, then took the entire audience out for milk and cookies afterward (on two rented buses) were amazing...but the "wrestling" nonsense was grounds for committment! (doubt that even the Neil Young Center could have coped with Andy at his worst)...

It was fascinating watching the TV specials on his life, where the 'in' jokes were revealed...but the ultimate irony to that strange life was that, when he contracted the disease that finally killed him, many people never believed him...thinking that this was just one more of Andy's complex routines, and that any day he'd get out of the wheelchair and do the 'finish'.....and Andy never quite 'saw' it...he was terribly upset that his friends didn't BELIEVE he was dying!


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:58 PM

Bill D, what disease? All I remember (or think I remember) was hearing that he'd killed himself.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 07:35 PM

Jeri,he had lung cancer,even though he had never smoked.

I first saw Andy on a variety show.He came out with his tight suit and foreign accent and his embarrassingly terrible impressions..."and I can do Archie Bunker...you are so stupid Meathead...everybody stupid..." and I was amazed that they would let this poor pitiful character up on the stage.And then he would say "I am afraid you are laughing at me,not weeth me. No body in the crowd want to listen sob sobEveryone make me feel badsob sob" and soon he was sobbing in tempo to a beat he was playing on the Conga drum.It was shocking and hilarious.Later on,Andy began to take himself more seriously as a Performance Artist,and he became less and less funny.His Special,Andy's Playhouse was a study in complete self-absorption,silly,boring, and as far from funny as you can get.Latka was about the weakest character on Taxi in the midst of a terrific ensemble cast. The movie,and Jim Carrey,were very good though.

Tom Greene lacks Andy's creative streak,and pretty much resorts to Geek-humor...you know,the "I'll eat a live chicken for laughs stuff".His best bit is licking his Dad's face on Saturday Night Live,if that tells you anything.He will be ancient history in another year.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 07:46 PM

I was the above Guest!


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 09:23 PM

Well Dammit, I'm gonna take a stand here! I think that Chaplin, Keaton, Kauffman AND Spaw are hilarious!...and Clinton makes me laugh at times too (Hammond....although Bill had his moments)

Last night after driving 11 hours I plunked into the couch in the basement and turned on the tube. After I felt secure in the knowledge that Dick Chaney was still alive (or at least more so than Al Gore, I did some channel surfing. Caught an absolutely brilliant 10 minutes by a comedian who shares a great deal with Kauffman...Rich Hall. I think he was on Letterman and he did a parody of an incarcerated country singer. I can't tell you how hilarious (and boundary pushing) this was. Did anyone else see it. I don't know for sure, but I think Rich Hall may even be riskier (for TV exposure) than Kauffman was.

Wow! Brother Theodore!

Anybody remember Professor Irwin Corey? Now THERE was a strange act! Keeerist! I love weird humour.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 10:25 PM

Rick, Professor Irwin Corey? My hero. I still use one of his lines if there's a particularly obnoxious heckler in the crowd. " You sir, are not heckling me . You're baiting me. Baiting, to tease or to taunt mercilessly. And you're good at it. You're a good baiter...you're a very good baiter...in fact, you're a master...." All the best. Seamus


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 11:18 PM

Great story Seamus. Any idea what the professor (if he's still alive) is doing now? I assume he was a vaudeville comic who got in to TV near the end of his run.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Brendy
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 09:11 AM

Well he definitely had that 'Love him or hate him' quality, that's for sure.
Unfortunately, as 'Taxi' was my only exposure to him, he was stereotyped already, for me. Had I been following his career at the time, perhaps I wouldn't have let that happen. But, oddly enough, out of all the actors and actresses, his name, and Danny De Vito's were the only ones that ever came readily to my mind when thinking of who actually appeared in that show.
As in nearly all cases, books are much superior than the films of them, and after seeing this particular one, I wished I had had the opportunity to read the book (or at least one of them), first.
But from what I can gather, not everyone connected to Andy was overly pleased with the dramatisation; performances by Jim Carrey and Co., notwithstanding.

The Andy Kaufman Home Page, is an interesting resource, and I spent most of last night, going through it. I watched the The Museum of Broadcast Communication's special, 'An Evening about Andy Kaufman', saw some of the episodes that many of you have mentioned, and I learned a bit more about him in the process.

He was described somewhere, as Dadaistic; "T.V. to the power of 2", even. "He took comedy and art to the edges of irrationality and blurred the dividing line between reality and imagination." In that respect he was in good company, and I don't see a great deal of difference between where he was at, and the Monty Python trip, for example. Maybe the public just wasn't ready for his particular brand of performance art yet. If you look at it from a general perspective, it probably never will.
He certainly left a legacy, as can be appreciated once you start perusing The Ultimate Andy Kaufman Message Board
He did worry, though, that playing Latka Gravas in 'Taxi' would stifle his career and lead to him being typecast into one particular formulaic conception or image. Bill Zehme, in Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman said ".....this was to be his legacy-in-shorthand..... He (Andy) sensed/feared the imminent cultural shackling of it from the get-go."

Tony Clifton. was his landing net. His appearance at The Comedy Store, one year after Kaufman's death, was overplayed in the film, it seems. It was his co-conspirator, and author of the book that the film is based on, Bob Zmuda, who did the show that night, the proceeds of which went to Cancer research. This event became the model for Zmuda's future "Comic Relief" charity fundraisers.

Kaufman wasn't well liked among the cast of 'Taxi', it has to be said. Tony Danza and Jeff Conaway had no time for him at all, apparently, and Judd Hirsch's tribute to Andy Kaufman does stink a bit of what you are saying, Whistle Stop, about him belonging in the 'Dead thread'. I wonder how many dramatic licenses were taken during the funeral service scene in the movie, where a dutifully mournful cast sat gathered. But he obviously did make an impression on people. I think that his performances left audiences wondering just what it was that they had experienced, and whether they should be happy about it, or not.

Watching Andy Kaufman in some of the clips I saw during the night, I got the same feeling I used to get sometimes when I watched John Cleese in 'Fawlty Towers'; that same white knuckle ride of frustration, embarrassment, sympathy, and God knows whatever else emotion that sweeps across the senses, seemingly induced only by the power of body language, and our insistence that everything should conform to certain timetables and agendas.
As Robin Williams said, "Andy was the master of the comic switch; at his tribute, people were expecting Tony Clifton to speak."

I don't think that he was 'better', or 'worse' than any of his contemporaries; avant-garde comedy has a fairly large catchment area, and an even larger watershed, and such things should be judged on an individual basis. But as far as I can figure it, his illusionry was no different from, let's say, David Copperfield's. Or that of many of the lunchtime soaps. The senses are still being played with; Kaufman played 'slight of mind' a bit too close to the edge for some, that's all, and that can bring you into dangerous territory.

I thought Man on the Moon for all its' 'failings' to be a great movie. But, then again, I like character studies, and I think Carrey to be a genius in his own right.

Indeed, Rick. My curiosity has been stirred, and if it is this book that you are talking about, then I certainly would be interested in hearing, or reading it. 'The Huey Williams Story', arguably an autobiographical account of his own life looks like an interesting read, also.

All that remains for me now, is to leave a few, wee, subtle hints around home, and you never know what Santy might have in his oul' bag, come Juleaften.

Interesting thread, folks. Thanks.

B.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: LR Mole
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 10:15 AM

Mn...not sure what to refer to here, or in what order. Steve Martin really being skillful after fumbling with the banjo? Penn and Teller explaining the trick and still making you gasp? Or, the interminable Mose Allison version of "You Are My Sunshine" that NEVER releases, after 500 lines of S-L-O-W time. Comedy without laughter is a tease. Musical ability without the impulse to share is isolating for everyone concerned. Building a wall with performance keeps too many people out, as if what we need is more loneliness.I'll be leaving, I guess.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 10:57 AM

His debut on SNL was a shocker. His comedy was so unlike anything ever witnessed that the audience had trouble fathoming just exactly what it was they saw. "A wizard, a true star"...truly unique and about as conceptual as one could get. Kaufman never seemed to be 'influenced' by anyone or anything...he had his own ideas of what was funny, and the levels of his comedic genius were at once simplistic yet very profound and convoluted. Performance art oriented, as stated above...his odd approach to living his life was his material (there was no separation), and therefore always uniquely his own. There will never be another like him (to the satisfaction of those who admired him as well as those who detested him)...thank God.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 11:00 AM

I think that when Jeri talks about not liking to see people being made fools of, she hits on a really fundamental thing about Andy's humor, and that is that he played off of the fact that, whether we like it or not, we accept most all of what we see and hear on TV as being real, and when we do, we are being made fools of--

Take the Dick Cheney thing (Rick mentioned him above, so this is not thread creep)--the man suffered a second heart attack and required surgery, yet two days later, he was happy, strong, and healthy on TV--

My father in law suffered a similar heart attack two and a half years ago, went to the hospital, no surgery needed, was examined, held for observation, then released, with a series of follow-ups and ongoing support and therapy--one week later, he collapsed and was dead before anyone could even reach him--Statistically, the chances are of a second, fatal heart attack are very high, and yet we are all relieved and reassured that Cheney's trouble is past because he looked good on TV, and they told us he was OK--

His humor worked off of the fact that in our mass media world, we get sucked into things because we accept them at face value, when they are really staged and contrived--and sooner or later, we become the victim--

A lot of people are doing Andy-type humor, partly because he was a great entertainer, but also because he had hit on one of the fundamental facts about the world that we live in--


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Peg
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 11:34 AM

Spaw;

I see no need for you to be such an asshole to me.

I didn't say anything to YOU personally, and, yes, if my opinion on Mr. Kaufman differs from yours, why yes, I am inclined to think you and others who disagree "don't get it."

That still only makes it my opinion, though, doesn't it? I did not mean to offend. This is a discussion and there is bound to be disagreement. Get over yourself.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 12:00 PM

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)

Rick


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 05:42 PM

What seems to be the problem there Peg? Getting a rise out of others was supposedly a part of his comic genius wasn't it?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 05:45 PM

Jeri is probably thinking of the wrestling, and such things, where Andy was intent on getting the audience as angry at him as possible--I'll bet that Jeri isn't a big wrestling fan, though, an probably doesn't realize that this is what wrestling fans expect--

Rick, didn't you ever play for an audience, and just wind out with a real slow version of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", or break out a Bobby Darin version of "Carrickfergus", or maybe just do a thoughtful and pensive version of the song from "Scooby-Doo", without cracking a smile, or maybe just rolled into a nice, easy rendition of"Me and You and a Dog Named Boo"--This is what entertainment is all about--


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 06:55 PM

Ricks' note about the pointed humor of Benny and Marx is right on. I, for one, adore Groucho and the Bros.---but in a few of their films the steriotypes and racism is obvious. But, everything, I suppose, has to be put into the context of its time.

Now to Rick's earlier comment---Brother Theodore. Just Theodore before the monicker stuck because of the Merv Griffin show. An amazing performance artist and a great teller of tales.

Check out his website---it will amaze.

And, in the words of Theodore----intelligence in my audience is as rare as rocking horse manure.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 07:39 PM

Peg, don't mind Spaw; we don't. -- MA


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: LR Mole
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 10:37 AM

Rocking horse manure? Now, THAT'S funny.De gustibus non est dispudandum, of course, if I've got the Latin right. But, really, folks: LORD BUCKLEY.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 11:56 AM

Hey Ted you just reminded me of something. A couple of times last year while I was playing to very traditional audiences, I started doing a serious introduction to one of the Child Robin Hood ballads.I have no idea why, but I suddenly broke into "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen, Robin Hood Robin Hood with his band of men....etc. Realized that i knew every word to the 60s TV show with Richard Greene...and sang the whole thing, including the great line...."They handled all the trouble on the English country scene, and still had plenty of time to SING!" Needless to say, it got huge laffs.......but (and I swear this is true) after the set, someone asked me seriously WHICH number in the Child collection, the song was!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 07:07 PM

Audiences are a bright lot, aren't they? In Philly, I used to tell my audiences that Benjamin Franklin had founded the first Public Television station, and there were a few who believed it--


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Brendy
Date: 08 Dec 00 - 11:31 PM

Then again, Jerry Lawler, Howdy Doody, and even that little old lady riding the pony at the Carnegie Hall gig were appreciative enough of his style, to co-operate. If Andy Kaufman was having the people on, then these more 'credible' people must have been doing it too.
When one counts up the number of people involved, behind the scenes in Andy's 'happenings'; and this stretches from the actor on the sound stage, to the executive in the boardroom, it gives you a fair indication of how many people were actually tuned into him, and the way he saw things.

Jerry Lawler, himself, acknowledges Kaufman's contribution to future mindsets: "That's something you can't really deny was a great thing.I also think that that was one of the things that helped create sports entertainment as its evolved into today. It's one of the first times that anybody from Hollywood came into wrestling and was involved in a storyline so to speak.".

There are people who walk around art galleries and museums every day, transfixed in front of canvasses, that are randomly splashed with varying colours of house paint (each one meticulously deposited from a different elevation, or body angle), and consider, "What this is trying to say" to them?.
Andy Kaufman would take his sleeping bag to a gig, and kip through the whole 'show'!
Why doesn't anybody say that Van Gogh painted like a 6 year old? Or that the Mahavishnu Orchestra was crap. Rhetorical, granted, but I think you see what I mean. Entertainment is a very relative concept, and not everything that we classify as art is, or is meant to be entertaining. Not everything we see on television is, neither. We just have a tendency to wrap everything up in the same bundle, and if it's not easily fathomed, we tend to switch to another channel. "Fans' attention spans are shorter than they used to be. So you have to cater to shorter attention spans" Jerry 'The King'.

I am left feeling that maybe Andy Kaufman was a bit before his time. He predicted the future, in a way. I think, perhaps he may have forseen the day when everybody will cheer, and admire the Emperor's new clothes. Or when the mother, coming home from work, asks her child "What are you watching on the T.V.", to which the child will answer "I don't know".

B.
Incidentally, Jerry 'The King' Lawler has his own home-page, called (well, it would be, wouldn't it) The King's Court There is also a video of the Letterman Show incident, in there, plus the 'I'll give you a free headlock' bit.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Jeri
Date: 09 Dec 00 - 08:44 AM

M Ted, I used to watch wrestling when I was a kid, and have watched occasionally since then. If the type of stuff Kaufman did on the Letterman show is taken in that context - anger as entertainment - then it truly was something new. Please note, I don't get a kick out of anger-based shows like Jerry Springer, either. This phenomenon also seems to be based on pro-wrestling. I'm not saying anyone else shouldn't enjoy anger as entertainment, only that I don't.

I can understand why some people would think this is art. There are a number of people who've done similar things here with flaming. But humor? No way.

This is what I meant when I said "people being made fools of." I meant the people who had never encountered staged fights, presented as reality for the sake of entertainment, and who believed what happened was true. It may be a good thing for people to be suspicious of whether anything is true, especially on TV, but it can go too far. If there are people who believe his death was faked, just another performance - isn't that going a bit too far?

On his humor - yes, he could be very funny at times. Other times, it was embarrassing. (Latka drove me nuts, but again, I know others thought he was hilarious.) I don't know if that was intentional or not - just trying for another emotional reaction from the audience.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 02:14 PM

Interesting thread. We just watched Man On the Moon last night and I just knew I'd find more info here, at the Mudcat! I can't stand Jim Carrey, most of the time, but thought he was amazing in this and did a great job in Liar, Liar and Pet Detective was fun. I, too, wish he'd stick to the better roles.

I remember not thinking much of Kauffman, too busy to pay much attention. I hated Taxi, so hardly ever saw him on there. I do remember seeing him on SNL and not being sure what to think.

I am glad that one thing the movie left hanging was cleared up in this thread. I was under the impression that he had committed suicide. The movie deliberatly, IMO, left it that he had NOT died, because they showed Zmuda in the audience of Tony's appearance a year after Kauffman's funeral.

Brendy, thanks for the many links. I found his father's account very touching and would really have enjoyed a bio-pic which focussed on his background more, but I still found the movie fascinating and well-done.

Thanks all for the info. Gotta go learn that song now, the Friendly World one, so pretty and simple.

kat


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Chip2447
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 02:47 PM

Never liked Andy Kaufman, Don't like Jim Carey. Not in the least bit interested in seeing Jim Carey do Andy Kaufman. Nuff said...

Chip2447


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:19 PM

So time for a recant... I watched Man In The Moon some time ago... Not half bad... "Lenny" with Dustin Hoffman was a better movie... Jim Carry might just turn into some kind of decent actor eventually...

As far as Kaufman goes, well, I still don't find him funny... but 50 million Elvis fans can't all be wrong... He musta been doing something right... he's been dead for how long, and here we are still talking about him...

It's unfortunate that he apparently got sucker'd into believing New Age Crappy Psychic Healing would save his life... Like Jim Henson, maybe if he'd seen a doctor earlier, he'd still be with us...

Poor deluded bugger...


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:44 PM

Up until its final year, Taxi was pretty good. The ensemble, especially when you saw them in other roles worked well. It has been said in other places that all humor [except possibly puns] is based on an element of pain.

I enjoyed Latka as part of the cast and did not enjoy Andy when he acted as a jerk. Clearly, I did not get the joke.

ibida


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:51 PM

CH, I had the impression he tried conventional medicine before the traditional and/or new age stuff. The movie did show him getting a scan and sans hair, presumably from chemo, before the otehr, unless I missed something?


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:58 PM

Maybe he did... that doesn't change the fact that throwing a bucket of cash at a snake-oil salesman is a stupid thing to do...

Not that $$ was a problem for him...


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 04:03 PM

It wasn't? His career was so short, I figured he probably didn't have much left at the end. I am going to have to get one of the books about him and read it, I guess.

One man's snake-oil salesman is another's shaman...LOL...stranger things have happened, CH.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: beadie
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 04:20 PM

I always had a "take-him-or-leave-him" sort of attitude about Andy until I saw a movie called "In GOD We Tru$t."

The premise was that a monk (Marty Feldman) was sent by his fiscally challenged monastery into LA to consult with the one man who knew more than anyone about raising money for churches: the Reverend Armageddon T. Thunderbird (Kaufman). Andy Kaufman as a TV preacher was the ultimate humor ("I spoke with G.O.D. last night. He's ill. In fact, He's in Intensive Care. Do you know how much it costs to stay in Intensive Care? Send all your money so we can help G.O.D. pay his Intensive Care bill.") This guy did it even better than Steve Martin in "Leap of Faith."

The word G.O.D. is spelled with periods because it is an acronym for the General Operating Director, a computer voiced by Richard Pryor.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to locate this movie at a video store, although it does appear in their "big book" of films. I did see it for sale on an internet site.


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 06:27 PM

"Man On The Moon" was a fascinating movie. Andy Kaufman had a lot of gall, and did some very memorable things in his time...but the role I will personally NEVER forget was Tony Clifton! Almost unbelievable.

To see that degree of bad taste and obnoxiousness combined with a style of music that is already obnoxious by its very nature is really hilarious, once you get over the initial shock. I can understand why some people went back again and again to see Tony Clifton do his thing at the Vegas nightclubs.

"Wow!", is all I can say. What nerve.

And a lot more fun than watching Spaw groom his weimaraners too...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Andy Kaufman
From: BH
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 08:50 PM

Now that this thread is resurected.
To me---A comic genius. One never knew if he was serious or a put on---usually a put on.   

His appearances in Taxi were distasteful to him (according to his biographer---did it for the money).   

Even when dying people thought it was a put on.

Some memorable moments include his Carnegie Hall appearance and then having buses waiting for the audience to take them back to his place for milk and cookies---his amazing and unexpected impersonation of Elvis on a Dick Van Dyke Show---and never forget Mighty Mouse.

Sadly, I feel, his stint at wrestling proved to be an undoing. Perhaps he was suffering some mental problem at the time---I know not.

His biographer and friend Szuma (spelling?) has written a wonderful book about this comic genius---a genius that Jim Carey who I admitedly cannot abide did a wonderful job in portraying Andy K in the film. I was impressed. Having read the book I felt he did capture him.


Bill Hahn


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