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Andy Kaufman’s bizarre ‘My Dinner with Andre’ parody


 
In 1981, the Louis Malle-directed My Dinner with Andre was released to instant and lasting acclaim. The daring film had almost no conventional narrative, and revolved entirely around a lengthy and intense dinner conversation between old friends played by theater director Andre Gregory and the absolutely wonderful actor/playwright Wallace Shawn. (If for nothing else, you surely know him as “Vizzini” in The Princess Bride. If you haven’t read his work, maybe consider giving his Essays collection a whirl, for starters. He is quite brilliant.) Thanks to the charm of the two performers and the compelling content of the conversation, this risky and limited conceit worked.

Given its massive critical success and utterly distinctive character, the film has been parodied and used as a punchline countless times across all media. A favorite of mine was a throwaway sight gag in a 1993 Simpsons episode which showed the effete Martin Prince character playing a My Dinner with Andre arcade game.
 

 
But perhaps the very first parody/homage/whatever to emerge was the Andy Kaufman gem My Breakfast With Blassie. Where Andre featured a perceptive meaning-of-life debate between two patrician theater mavens in an elegant Manhattan restaurant, My Breakfast with Blassie presented two wrestlers—Kaufman, who was immersed in his bizarre late-career wrestling phase at the time (thus the neck brace), and actual legendary wrestling world figure “Classy” Freddie Blassie—spending an hourlong and oft-interrupted chat burnishing their own egos and griping about germs and the banality of small-talk over greasy food in a noisy, homely diner. You also get to see Blassie totally beat Dr. Atkins to the low-carb punch. The film was released direct to videocassette in late 1983, only months before Kaufman’s death from cancer. It’s been reissued on DVD twice, once in 2000, bundled with the I’m From Hollywood documentary about Kaufman’s wrestling exploits, and on its own in 2009. It turned up on YouTube last week, so you can see it right here if you like, but you might want to watch it soon, in case it gets yanked.
 

 
After the jump, Kaufman and Blassie talking about the project on Late Night with David Letterman...

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Watch all four Johnny Cash Christmas specials

The Christmas Spirit by Johnny Cash
 
From 1976 to 1979, CBS ran a Johnny Cash Christmas special every year—it must have been a significant Christmas tradition in many homes (alas, not my own). For those who remember Cash as the ultimate rebel par excellence, these specials make for some interesting viewing. During the 1970s Cash experienced a slump in record sales, and during this period he was a familiar face on TV, appearing as a guest star on Columbo and Little House on the Prairie and doing commercials for Amoco.

In these specials, the sentimentality of the occasion can’t be ignored, so Cash gamely refashioned himself as a family-friendly country music TV host. We’re far from the middle-finger Johnny Cash or Folsom Prison Blues; there’s a decent amount of corny levity to be seen here. You might say that this is the closest that Cash came to a figure on Hee Haw (of course, he appeared on Hee Haw as well).
 
Johnny Cash as Santa Claus
 
Of course, June Carter Cash is every bit as present as Johnny—the emphasis here is charmingly on family, and many of June and Johnny’s wide-ranging clan of relatives are featured, especially in the 1976 and 1979 specials, which were taped in Tennessee.

If you find yourself inundated with cheesy Christmas songs in every retail establishment you dare to enter, you can surely improve your life by dialing up The Johnny Cash Christmas Special, with its mix of Christmas classics and country-western fare, in their stead.

Taped in Nashville, the special that kicked it off is the most homespun of the bunch. The entire second half of the show is framed as an expansive musical visit around the Cash family hearth. Earlier, Johnny and June join Tony Orlando for “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” and (back at the hearth) Barbara Mandrell, several years before she and her sisters got a show of their own on NBC, engages in some ass-kicking steel guitar wizardry before singing “A Beautiful Morning with You.” Billy Graham ends with a downbeat sermon.
 

 
The 1977 edition may be the strongest from a musical perspective, or maybe it’s just my own bias in favor of rock over country. There’s scarcely any humor sketches, which would predominate in the next two years, and the core of the show is dedicated to three of rock and roll’s most venerable heroes, all associated with Sun Studios, just as Cash himself was. In rapid succession we get Carl Perkins singing “Blue Suede Shoes,” Roy Orbison singing “Pretty Woman,” and Jerry Lee Lewis singing “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” before Lewis essays a reverent rendition of “White Christmas.” Then the three of them and Cash come together to sing “This Train Is Bound For Glory” in a tribute to Elvis, who had died just a few months earlier. Also, Johnny spends a good chunk of the show wearing Army fatigues (!).
 

 
The 1978 Johnny Cash Christmas Special, like the 1977 edition, was taped in Los Angeles, and it shows a little. The guests include Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, and Steve Martin, who as a budding superstar is given a fair amount of time for his hijinks. The high point is probably Cash and Kristofferson singing the latter’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” together.
 

 
It’s not news that DM is very Andy Kaufman-friendly, so it was something of a shock to hit play on the 1979 special and see none other than Kaufman himself in the opening bit. For this version of the special, Cash returned to Nashville, and the presence of an appreciative Opryland audience is a blessing. Kaufman scarcely strays from his Latka character, except when he does a completely straight version of Elvis Presley’s “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” It’s well known that Elvis loved Andy’s impersonation; here’s a fine chance to see it.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Andy Kaufman punks ‘The Dating Game,’ 1978
12.02.2013
11:50 am

Topics:
Television
Unorthodox

Tags:
Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman
 
Andy Kaufman’s stretch as an object of cultural attention was surprisingly short, 1975 to 1984, yet he packed a remarkable number of first-rate stunts into that time, including boorishly challenging to beat any female alive at wrasslin’ and spending his off-days as a key player on the sitcom Taxi bussing tables at Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City, California.

One of his finest instigations came in 1978, when he somehow inveigled his way onto the set of The Dating Game as a contestant vying for the favor of comely Patrice Burke, identified in host Jim Lange’s intro as a “chronic disco dancer” who wants to know whether “the Hustle [can] really clear up the stress in the lower tract” (your guess is as good as mine). In hindsight it’s clear that Kaufman was in full-on Latka Gravas mode on this occasion, although in the guise of “Baji Kimran.”
 
Jim Lange
Bumfuzzled Jim Lange
 
It’s a pity, really, that Kaufman’s refusal to play by the games of the entertainment industry precluded a regular career as a thespian, because his acting here is truly nonpareil. Note at 3:30 his convincingly guileless inability to understand the rules of the show, responding to the prompt “I’ll do anything for you, except—“ with “Except what?” There’s no break in character, no laughing that gives the game away. At one point “Baji” even solicits assistance from his clueless fellow bachelors. At the end of the show “Baji” (somewhat implausibly) engages in a minor meltdown because of the inherent unfairness in Patrice choosing studly Bachelor #1 even though “Baji” had “answered all de questions right!”

What a brilliant way to explode the witless, salacious premises of The Dating Game—by denying their very existence.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Is Andy Kaufman alive? His ‘daughter’ says that he is
11.13.2013
05:37 pm

Topics:
Amusing
R.I.P.
Unorthodox

Tags:
Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman Awards, 2013
Michael Kaufman standing next to a woman who either is or is not Andy Kaufman’s 24-year-old daughter

Every year for the last several years, at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York, a ceremony called the Andy Kaufman Awards takes place in which the eponymous, dearly departed, and much-missed comedian is celebrated, and current performers carrying on the spirit of his baffling comedy are singled out for recognition (Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts have been two of the comedians so honored).

On Monday evening, this year’s edition of the Andy Kaufman Awards took an unusually Kaufmanesque turn, not only when Kaufman’s brother Michael took the stage to announce that Andy is indeed still alive but even more so when a young woman took the stage, claiming to be his daughter and likewise “confirming” that Andy is alive and well.
 
Andy Kaufman
 
The woman in question did not, apparently, give her name, but she did reveal her age—24, which would put her birthdate at around 1989. The fact that intrigues is that Kaufman died in 1984 at the age of 35.

Killy Dwyer, who was part of the event as one of the potential honorees, posted the following on her Facebook page:
 

Ok. Tonight was a mindfuck. Anyone who was there will attest. Andy Kaufman’s daughter came onstage and claimed he was alive. It was. It was…I can’t tell you how it was, only that it was as real as any reality that i’ve seen. and yeah. I get that it is—could—might all be a hoax. That was the only and last thing I want to say. it was fucking fucked up. She said he is alive and that the passing of his father this July made him want to reach out via her- to Michael, Andy’s brother. She said he is watching the award entries, semi and finalists with great interest always. He just wanted to disappear. To be a father. To be an observer. As much as this seems like bullshit as I type it, it was as real as anything I’ve ever seen. There is video. It was chilling, upsetting and absolutely intriguing. I bawled my eyes out. The entire room was freaked out. It was, if nothing else, brilliant. and incredibly mindfuckng and AWESOME.

 
To supply a little background, the basic facts are these. Between roughly 1970 and his passing in 1984, Kaufman established himself as one of the most original voices in comedy, primarily through his appearances on Saturday Night Live and his status as a regular player on the cast of Taxi (1978-1983). He gave a number of live performances coinciding with his run on Taxi that are considered legendary, particularly his April 1979 show at Carnegie Hall in which, among other things, he took the entire audience out for milk and cookies (this required the use of 24 buses) and invited everyone to join him on the Staten Island Ferry the next morning.

Long accustomed to baffling and irritating his audiences, in his last years Kaufman refined what can only be called an especially provocative form of anti-comedy to its most sublime expression. Kaufman became renowned for belligerently boasting that he could beat any woman in the sport of wrestling—and several such matches were staged. He also had a scuffle and a heated exchange with Memphis wrestler Jerry Lawler on Late Night with David Letterman.

He developed an alter ego named Tony Clifton, whom Kaufman insisted be hired as a guest actor on Taxi—Kaufman’s partner in crime, a curious figure named Bob Zmuda, later continued with the Clifton persona after Kaufman’s death of lung cancer in 1984, in part to fuel speculation that Kaufman was still alive and controlling this macabre anti-comedy from offstage.

Rather brilliantly, Kaufman—alive or no—managed to set up conditions whereby almost anything that happens can be said to further corroborate either the facts of his death or the concocted nature of same. It is well known that Kaufman spoke often of faking his own death, but most reasonable observers have concluded that this is highly unlikely.

This is what makes the events of last Monday night so compelling and weird. Nobody claims to know who the young woman is or whether she is telling the truth. At the Andy Kaufman Awards on Monday, Michael Kaufman, Andy’s brother, told a story about Andy’s supposed promise to meet up with Michael on Christmas Eve of 1999, on which date Michael showed up at the appointed restaurant but Andy did not—however (according to Michael) an emissary did hand Michael an envelope that evening explaining about Andy’s faked death and his new family, including a daughter. 

So what we know is, either Andy Kaufman is alive or his brother and an unidentified woman staged a remembrance of his brilliantly perverse comedy in the most attention-getting manner imaginable.
 
Kaufman in rare form, taunting Jerry Lawler and wrestling a woman named Susan:

 
(The best account of this bizarre turn of events can be found at the Comic’s Comic.)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The day Andy Kaufman mesmerized Dick Van Dyke with congas and tears
08.20.2013
07:37 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
Andy Kaufman
Dick Van Dyke

Andy Kaufman
 
Dick Van Dyke, who just yesterday walked away from a burning Jaguar unscathed on a Los Angeles freeway, may not be one of the first people you’d think of as cherishing such a unique and anarchic talent as Andy Kaufman, but in fact he was responsible for giving Kaufman’s career a significant boost.

Van Dyke and Company was an eccentric yet strangely charming entry on NBC’s 1976 schedule, a sketch show that featured none other than the Los Angeles Mime Company. (Credit the NBC executives for instinctively understanding the inchoate yearning for mime among the American people.)

As Bill Zehme reported in his 1999 book Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman:

[T]hey were in the process of creating an inventive variety series for Dick Van Dyke to be part of NBC’s fall telvision schedule. They decided without pause that Foreign Man had great possibilities and envisioned him in a running gag wherein he would interrupt and annoy Van Dyke week after week with eemetations and jokes and musical records and so they invited him to come perform his material for the star and writing staff and somehow he felt compelled to read aloud from The Great Gatsby at the outset of the meeting, which came at the end of a long day, which had the writers and Van Dyke shooting baleful daggers at the two producers throughout the recitation. … Foreign Man set aside the reading in order to weep and to play congas and to exude innocence and Van Dyke began to laugh—“Why I laughed I don’t know,” he would remember. “He was strangely psychological. He liked to lead you one way and then suddenly turn the tables around and make you angry. And then vice versa.”

—snip—

Van Dyke and Company … debuted September 20 and left the air due to low ratings on December 30 and won an Emmy award in the category of variety programming nonetheless. Tapings commenced in late summer and he was introduced in the first episode as pink-jacketed Mr. Andy, finalist in a Fonzie look-alike contest, placing second behind a strapping African-American fellow, about which he protested to Van Dyke—But he don’t even look like de Fonzie! I think you don’t like me you make fun of me because I am from another country! And to appease him Van Dyke grudgingly allowed him to do a song or joke so I can be on de television and every week thereafter he returned during moments most inopportune—but-but you said I could come back—to vex Van Dyke, who would angrily relent to each transgression, often humiliated in the presence of such guest stars as John Denver and Carl Reiner and Chevy Chase and Lucille Ball, who declared, “I know who this young man is—I’ve seen him on your show many times and I think he’s just sensational,” before she too stormed off in a mock huff.

So there you have it: Dick Van Dyke gave Andy Kaufman his first job as a performer on prime-time network television.

You can get a sense of the mime-y goings-on featured on the winsome and ill-fated Van Dyke and Company in this “Puppet Master” clip, which is a little raw but still well worth watching.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sifting through 82 hours of Andy Kaufman’s private anti-comedy field recordings
07.24.2013
07:36 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Andy Kaufman
Vernon Chatman


 
Last week Drag City released Andy & His Grandmother, previously unheard “field recordings” made by the legendary dada anti-comic Andy Kaufman in the late 1970s. The tapes show Kaufman pulling friends, family members and total strangers alike into his provocative acts of real life mayhem and reality-altering pranks. (My best friend once gave him a lift home from LAX. Kaufman, then a highly recognizable face on network television, walked up to his girlfriend at baggage and asked for a ride home. I asked him what it was like and he said flatly “Really weird.”).

Andy & His Grandmother was edited down from from 82 hours of micro-cassette tapes by Vernon Chatman, one of the geniuses behind Wonder Showzen (he’s also the voice of “Towlie” on South Park) and Rodney Ascher (the director of Room 237). I posed a few questions about the release to Vernon Chatman over email:

Eighty-two hours of raw material to sort through is a daunting task, to say the least. How did you attack the “not enough hours in the day” problem? Were you just listening to Andy Kaufman in the car for months on end? Multi-tasking while listening to Andy Kaufman’s private recordings seems like it would be a difficult thing to do.

I had to rage against my deep inherent laziness and force myself to sit upright, undistracted, with headphones on, listening to every second of the tapes, taking notes.  So it took way too long – a couple years passed between receiving the tapes and honing the final cut with Rodney. There was a lot of marinating in different approaches and shifting ideas around.

A few times on the tapes, Andy would randomly call up a stranger who had sent him a letter, and invite the stunned fan to spend an afternoon with him – just running errands and stuff. Occasionally, listening to the tapes felt like I got to be a fly on Andy’s face for the day.

What was the signal to noise ratio like, the solid gold stuff vs the recorder merely being switched on? I would think some of it, maybe a lot of it, would be incoherent.

Tons of it was indeed incoherent. I think he was interested in the ambience and texture of his life as much as the moments of lucid goofiness he created.  He’d record a blaring party.  Or the rumbling white noise of a drive to the airport in his car. Or a casual meal with his parents. But mostly the tapes showcased Andy shifting in and out of performance for the benefit of no one/ himself/ the tapes. He was always on the lookout for ways to give people an experience. For the album, we focused on those moments.

Did certain themes present themselves as you went through the tapes? What was the editing philosophy?

There didn’t seem to be any guiding theme, other than Andy’s personality, his impulses. The editing philosophy was to follow Andy’s lead as much as possible—to zero in on the moments where he spelled out his intentions and execute them as we thought he would have. The overall goal was to not craft a biographical or historical document, but build an album of tracks – an entertaining interesting strange funny honest experience, as true to Andy’s intentions as possible. Of course, it isn’t possible to fully achieve that goal, but we figured don’t mess with his tapes if you aren’t going to try. 

In these field recordings, were there certain “sleight of mind” tropes that Kaufman utilized to get his put-ons moving in a Kaufman-esque direction?

Well, I know from Lynne [Margulies, Kaufman’s girlfriend] that occasionally Andy put on little costumes when he would go out messing with people in public. But most of the stuff on the tapes were bits he created spontaneously. He slid invisibly in and out of performance. Sometimes he would use the sliding back and forth to further befuddle folks around him. His greatest “trick” might have been his weird combination of relentless commitment and infinite slipperiness. He never had to hide an ulterior motive because all (none) of his motives were ulterior. He had no corners to get cornered into. He was compelled to meddle in any available cranny, and equally interested in every type of reaction.

He’d get obsessed with certain things – he loved tormenting one particular woman, a good friend of his, whom he couldn’t help winding up just to see her spin. We thought briefly about making the whole album only tracks of Andy infuriating this woman.  But there was too much other great stuff.

The liner notes aren’t very forthcoming about what’s what. Were you able to piece together the context for most of the things you selected or was that mostly mysterious to you?

A lot of it was like holding my head under murky water with open eyes, looking around trying to cobble a sense of what the hell is going on. More often than not, the context became clear. One time, Andy was talking openly on the phone with a sweet young lady about how desperate he was for some help getting laid (or as Andy called it, “getting some hey-hey-hey”). After 5 minutes, I realized the woman on the other end of the call, happily trying to help score him a little hey-hey-hey, was Andy’s sister.

How much of it was labeled in a useful manner to a future Andy Kaufman archivist like yourself?

Andy labeled the tapes in an almost illegible scrawl. I couldn’t understand most of the labels until after I listened to the tapes. I kept only scrappy sloppy disjointed notes to myself.  Also I dribbled a lot of gravy on them. Maybe there should be a website that just runs the tapes uncut on a loop forever. And plays a live video feed from one of Andy’s favorite brothels or/and petting zoos to go along with it.

You write in the liner notes that you can’t really learn anything about a person from listening to 82 hours of them on tape. C’mon! Nothing?

Here’s something I didn’t exactly learn, but that I had confirmed: Andy really seemed to be, in every crevice of his life that I got to peek into, as driven by sincere kidlike wonder as I had hoped he was.  There was no evidence of a cynical or needy ego manufacturing his persona or contriving a myth – even though he enjoyed playing around with all that stuff, his creative urges all seemed to come from an utterly pure place.

Buy Andy & His Grandmother on Amazon

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Andy and His Grandmother’: Home recordings made by Andy Kaufman
06.14.2013
11:05 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Andy Kaufman


 
Comedy fans take note: Drag City will be releasing previously unheard “field recordings” made by the legendary dada comic Andy Kaufman in the late 1970s that show Kaufman pulling friends, family members and total strangers alike into his provocative acts of real life mayhem and reality-altering pranks. (My best friend once gave him a lift home from LAX. Kaufman, then a highly recognizable face on network televison, was hitchhiking).

Andy & His Grandmother was edited down from from 82 hours of micro-cassette tapes by Vernon Chatman, one of the geniuses behind Wonder Showzen (he’s also the voice of “Towlie” on South Park) and Rodney Ascher (the director of Room 237). SNL’s Bill Hader provided some connecting narrative and context between tracks and Bob Zmuda (who often played Kaufman’s “Tony Clifton” character) wrote the liner notes.. This is not some re-hash of Andy Kaufman material you’ve heard before.

The album drops on July 16th, below is a brief, confusing and very tantalizing audio edit for the upcoming release, exclusively for Dangerous Minds readers:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Andy Kaufman ‘Mighty Mouse’ figurine
02.26.2013
01:45 pm

Topics:
Art
Kooks
Television

Tags:
Andy Kaufman


 
Andy Kaufman figurine pays homage to Kaufman’s “Foreign Man” character as seen on Saturday Night Live, October 11, 1975.

The hand-sculpted figurine, by artist Scott Miller, was sold to a private collector. 


 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
When Debbie Harry wrestled Andy Kaufman, 1983


Caitlan Clarke, Andy Kaufman and Debbie Harry,1983

Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap was a 1983 Broadway play that starred Debbie Harry as “Tanzi,” Caitlan Clarke as “Tanzi” and Andy Kaufman as the “referee.” Debbie Harry and Caitlin Clarke had to alternate in the lead role of “Tanzi” because of the strenuous nature of the wrestling.

Apparently the play didn’t do too well, though. Despite its success in London, Teaneck Tanzi closed on Broadway after just a single performance.

From a 2007 Gothamist interview with Debbie Harry:

What can you tell us about your Broadway debut alongside Andy Kaufman in Teaneck Tanzi?

The Venus Flytrap? [Laughs.] Well, it was a very interesting little musical play. At the time, way back in the beginning of the ‘80s, Chris [Stein, co-founder of Blondie] and I were very big wrestling fans and we used to go to the Garden all the time because we had a friend who did all the promotion there and she would get us ringside seats. We had a great time and started going to wrestling many, many years before Cindi [Lauper] starting hanging out with Lou Albano. So then all of a sudden I got this script and I thought it could be really fun. So we did the show for about three weeks in previews, downtown in a nice sort of loft space Off Off-Broadway. And it was great; the audiences were loud and everybody was shouting at the wrestlers just like a real wrestling match. And then they decided they were going to open it on Broadway and it opened and closed almost instantly! So I guess it was a little bit premature for Broadway.

 

 

 
More photos after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Andy Kaufman’s Midnight Special, from 1981

image
 
Ah, this is delightful. Andy Kaufman’s Midnight Special an episode of Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special, hosted by Wolfman Jack, which aired on January 23, 1981. If you ever wondered what the hell Kaufman was about, well, he tries to answer this here, as he discusses what is serious, what is comic, what is real and what is not. There are also performances from most of his best known characters, “The Foreign Guy,” Tony Clifton, “Ladies Wrestling,” the ventriloquist act, and of course, Elvis.

It’s brilliant, funny and (at its time) ground-breaking. Has anyone has come close since? No. Kaufman was a one-off, and this program highlights why he was so good. Enjoy.
 

 
Previously on DM

Dear Andy Kaufman I hate your guts


A Sit-Down with Mr. Tony Clifton


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A Sit-Down With Mr. Tony Clifton

image
 
Alleged alter-ego to both the late great Andy Kaufman and Kaufman’s longtime writer/co-schemer Bob Zmuda, meta-comedian Tony Clifton‘s still alive, well and wonderfully profane.  (Sample: Why is it that Mike Tyson cries after sex?  Well mace will do that to you.) 

The Onion’s AVC is carrying a lengthy, frequently hilarious interview with the man dubbed “the worst nightclub singer you’ve ever seen or heard.”  In it, Clifton dishes on Sinatra (a moody bastard) and New Orleans cops (crazy motherfuckers).

And when he’s not frolicking with prostitutes or updating his blog, Clifton’s making the club rounds.  He also recently played a string of Comic Relief gigs to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Some footage of Clifton in action follows below.  The clip also attempts to tease out Clifton’s “true” identity, an effort that, as it has for years now, quickly becomes a hall of mirrors.

 
Tony Clifton: The Onion AVC Interview

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment
“Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts”
11.19.2009
03:34 pm

Topics:
Books

Tags:
Andy Kaufman
Process Media Inc.

image
 
A wonderfully loopy new volume of actual, er, fan letters sent to dada comic Andy Kaufman has just been published by Process Media Inc. Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the comedian’s death in 1984, the letters were a result of Kaufman offering $1,000 to any woman who could pin the “World Intergender Wrestling Champion” (Kaufman) to the floor. The pot was sweetened when Kaufman said the winner could shave his head, and later that he would marry the victor.

Not surprisingly, Kaufman’s obnoxious and aggressive TV appearances promoting the event provoked a flood of letters and postcards, both from fan and foe alike. Mostly foe! He kept them all, and the letters in Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts! provide a bizarre lens in which to view both ‘70s culture in general and post-feminist attitudes of the era, in particular. Truly a fantastic idea for a book and talk about a gift for the otaku with everything.

On Dec. 3 at the Silent Movie Theater, the Cinefamily collective will host a special evening with Lynn Margulies, Kaufman’s girlfriend at the time of his death and the book’s author/editor, who’ll be screening a number of seldom-seen videos related to his brief wrestling career.

The Silent Movie Theater/Cinefamily 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, 8 p.m., $15.

Cross posting this from Brand X

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment