Ever since his passing in 1984, the world has been void of the comedic genius that was (and thanks to Jim Carrey/YouTube still is) Andy Kaufman. Drag City Records is planning to bring Kaufman recordings that have never been heard before back to life via record this July. Read on for full details and more than a few laughs.
For those who are unfamiliar with his work, there is no real way to categorize Andy Kaufman. He has been described as a comedian, an actor, an entertainer, the “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World” (self-proclaimed), a lunatic, an impostor, a troll, and a pioneer unlike anyone else. Kaufman referred to himself simply as a “song-and-dance man.”
Kaufman started out at comedy clubs and bars playing an unknown bumbling Foreign Man from the fictional Caspiar, who could instantly transform himself into a spot-on Elvis Presley (women swooning and all…even Presley himself said the impersonation was his own personal favorite). He quickly gained fame and made frequent appearances on late night shows like Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and Dick van Dyke. Additionally, he appeared in multiple episodes of the premiere season of Saturday Night Live, performing his famed Mighty Mouse lip-sync for his first appearance.
The Foreign Man character was adapted by Kaufman while he starred for five seasons on ABC’s television sitcom Taxi as Latka Gravas, alongside the likes of Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, and Christopher Lloyd from 1978 to 1983. His role gained him so much notoriety that at his stand-up shows crowds would heckle him if he didn’t perform as Latka. Kaufman would in-turn punish the audience by reading The Great Gatsby to them in its entirety. At a certain point in his reading, he would tell the audience he’d stop to give them a break by playing a record, which would then play a recording of his voice continuing to narrate the book from where he had just stopped reading.
Kaufman also had a stint as a semi-professional wrestler, however he insisted on only wrestling women and claimed the Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World title for himself via self proclamation.
Of Andy’s most memorable performances, are those where he appeared as his own opening act, the horribly crude lounge singing alter-ego that was Tony Clifton, in addition to his famed performance at Carnegie Hall. The performance at Carnegie is most famous for Andy ending the show by taking the entire audience (in twenty-four busses no less) out for milk and cookies.
Kaufman was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer in 1983, and died a year later of kidney-failure in West Hollywood, CA at the age of 35. Since Andy’s passing, Tony Clifton has made multiple appearances, leading Kaufman’s close cult-followers and fans to believe that his death was a hoax and is actually his greatest “act” to date (it should be noted that Tony Clifton was sometimes played by Andy’s brother Michael, other times by friend Bob Zmuda, both of whom are still alive).
This July 16th, Andy Kaufman’s voice and spirit will live on thanks to Drag City Records. Andy And His Grandmother will be a seventeen track LP containing never-before heard material captured by Kaufman to his personal tape recorder, which he carried with him everywhere. The finished album, with liner notes from writer/producer Vernon Chatman and Kaufman cohort Bob Zmuda, is sure to be a great addition to Kaufman’s already monumental collection of work.
Look for your copy of Andy And His Grandmother on July 16th.
Andy And His Grandmother Tracklist:
01. Andy Is Making A Record
02. Andy And His Grandmother
03. Andy’s Land Live
04. Andy Loves His Tape Recorder
05. Slice Of Life
06. Andy Goes To the Movies
07. Kick In the Pants
08. Andy Can Talk to Animals
09. I’m Not Capable Of Having A Relationship
11. Andy And His Grandmother Go For A Drive
12. Sleep Comedy
13. [HONK] vs. [DOG] A
14. [HONK] vs. [DOG] B
15. Andy Goes For A Taxi Ride
16. Andy’s English Friend Paul
17. I Want Those Tapes