Thirty two years ago today, US entertainer Andy Kaufman sadly passed away after a battle with lung cancer, at the age of 35.
I pigeon holed him as an entertainer, above, as apparently he didn’t like being classed as a comedian, which I personally would have labelled him as. He himself preferred to be known as a ‘song & dance’ man.
I’m not sure why I’m worried about upsetting the late Long Islander. After all, it’s not as if he is going to read this, unless wherever we move on to in the after life has internet access.
Even if they have I’m sure he’s got more pressing things than my blogs to occupy him; such as chess with late Taxi co-star Jeff Conaway, or Top Trumps with Humphrey Bogart.
I never know which moniker to place on the destination of the after life. This is mainly due to not being sure what I believe.
I was brought up a Christian, but is there really a heaven and hell and if there was which one would I go to? I’m additionally anxious about the clothing I’d be provided with….. I look terrible in cheesecloth.
This uncertainty leaves me cautious about applying a label to the place(s) we move onto. Occasionally, I envisage we go to wondrous place where anything you so desire is at your fingertips….. A magical place not unlike Sainsburys supermarket, only with ‘in date’ coleslaw.**
I just hope they redeem Nectar points there, as I’d hate to spend years saving up my points for a large purchase only to die before I’d redeemed them!…. Note to self – Cash in Nectar points next time you’re in Sainsburys’, just in case!
Anyway, back to the main subject of my blog Andy Kaufman.
If truth be told, I’ve not seen a great deal of the guy’s work. I know him mainly for his comedic (Am I ok using comedic, Andy?) Foreign Man stage character. This popular act later evolved into his Latka Gravas role on the TV comedy (again, ok with that?) Taxi.
Taxi ran from 1978-1983 (I hope the clock wasn’t on for that length!), winning 18 Emmy’s in the process. The cast may beg to differ, but it enhanced the careers of not just Kaufman, but also Danny DeVito, Judd Hirsch, Marilu Henner and the aforementioned Jeff Conaway, to name a few.
Andy Kaufman made 79 appearances in the 114 shows recorded. His portrayal of the timid mechanic from an unnamed foreign country, with a poor grasp of English, receiving plaudits from viewers and critics alike.
Kaufman as Latka Gravas
Despite the characters popularity, the relationship between Kaufman and the shows makers was not a marriage made in heaven, or indeed that Sainsburys’ like place.
He is said to have disliked TV sitcoms and was labelled by some of the shows team as disruptive. An allegation later refuted by one of the shows main writers Sam Simon.
Evidently, his insulting of Taxi co-stars during the 1979 Golden Globes is said to have incensed Jeff Conaway so much that he decked him.
Incidentally, when I say decked him I mean punched him to the ground. Not that Conaway had covered him in wood strips to look like a patio! …… That would be ridiculous.
Although there are rumours the crazy Kaufman faked his own death, perhaps he has been hidden under a patio for 32 years? …… Some fans of the star offered cult status maybe wouldn’t put a prank like that past the late (?) New Yorker.
Andy Kaufman took comedy and performance art to the edges of irrationality and blurred the dividing line between reality and imagination. Or so I was told this morning during a trip to Sainsburys……. I wouldn’t care I only asked the assistant on which aisle the tinned ham resided!
In addition to starring in Taxi, he appeared in several TV shows and movies, performed a one man show at Carnegie Hall, enjoyed a brief professional wrestling career and performed in concerts nation-wide.
Long after Kaufman hid under the decking, in 1999, a biographical comedy drama depicting his career was released, were he was played by Jim Carrey. I’ve not much else to add to that, other than I raised this in the event your get asked it in a pub quiz, or big money question on TV show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’.
On this day 32 years ago an innovative and eccentric performer/writer was taken from us too soon…… I just hope he’d redeemed his Nectar points before he went!
**Disclaimer – Sainsburys coleslaw is always ‘in date’ and is lovely in a sandwich with cheese.