Andy Kaufman Day

Performance artist, comedian. Born January 17, 1949, in New York City. Raised in the affluent suburb of Great Neck, on Long Island, Kaufman early on began practicing his unorthodox brand of comedy, staging a make-believe television show in his bedroom and performing at children's birthday parties from the age of eight.

In 1971, Kaufman was 'discovered' by Budd Friedman, owner of the Improvisation Comedy Club, while doing a stand-up routine in a Long Island nightclub. He began performing at the Improv locations in both New York and Los Angeles, confronting his often confused audiences with a strange kind of performance art - he might read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby aloud until his entire audience walked out, for example, or appear on stage with a sleeping bag and sleep his way through the act. With an array of bizarre foreign accents, dead-on impersonations of Elvis Presley, and a strange obsession with professional wrestling, Kaufman won fans - and rabid critics - in large numbers.

In 1975, the NBC executive Dick Ebersol saw Kaufman's stand-up routine and invited him to audition for a new comedy program called Saturday Night Live. Kaufman made his first of 14 appearances on the show during its first-ever broadcast on October 11, 1975, when he lip-synched "The Theme from Mighty Mouse." The most notorious of the many characters Kaufman portrayed on SNL was the self-proclaimed undefeated Intergender World Wrestling Champion, an ultra-chauvinistic character who offered women $1000 if they could pin him in a wrestling match.

Kaufman's reputation for being completely unpredictable had been well-established by the time he won the role he became most well known for - Latka Gravas, an auto mechanic of indeterminate nationality, on the hit sitcom Taxi, which ran from 1978 to 1983.  As a condition of his employment, Kaufman convinced the producers of the show to cast his so-called 'protégé,' the smarmy Las Vegas lounge singer Tony Clifton (another one of Kaufman's alter egos) in 2 episodes. 'Clifton' was soon fired for unprofessional behavior. Kaufman went to some lengths to maintain that he and Clifton were two separate people; his best friend and fellow comedian Bob Zmuda eventually took over the character and even appeared as Clifton after Kaufman's death.

In January 1984, Kaufman was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. He had never smoked, and some even accused the consummate performer of faking his illness, even in its most advanced stages. He died on May 16, 1984, in Los Angeles, at the age of 35.

July 16, 2013

Doc - The Real Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman performing at Kutchers in 1979. By Seth Schultz, 1979.

Collection - Andy Kaufman on Letterman

"This is Don Pardo saying, 'I voted for Andy Kaufman.'"

The Andy Kaufman Show (1983)

Andy whips the crowd into a frenzy with his unusual performances, one of his last before his death. Features his Foreign Man character, an Elvis performance, and a Tony Clifton marionette

Andy Kaufman - My Breakfast with Blassie

Andy Kaufman's ridiculous parody of "My Dinner With Andre" sets Andy Kaufman, playing himself, at an early-morning breakfast with former wrestling champion Fred Blassie.

Collection - The Gospel According To Andy Kaufman

His career told through his music. In the grand tradition of american song-and-dance-men Father Andy preaches the absurd to an absurd world. Elvis, Tony Clifton, All the key-tunes plus much more!

Doc - Andy Kaufman & Wrestling

"I'm from Hollywood" shows the undisputed King of Transgender Wrestling getting seriously hurt by a male wrestler while nonstop asking for it.