Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crazy as a Bedbug

Andy Kaufman was as crazy as a bedbug, but he was the most brilliant Elvis impersonator ever. According to Elvis himself, Andy's impersonation was his favourite.

Although Andy passed away from a rare form of lung cancer in 1985, when he was only 35 years old, rumours that he is still living still circulate among some fans. That would have made him very happy - a kind of happiness he never found in his short life.

He started those rumours himself. He often claimed that he would fake his death, long before he died. Wikipedia reports, "It is almost certain that he did indeed die on May 16, 1984. His death certificate is on file with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services." That sounds like a most definite maybe. Just as Elvis is hanging around somewhere in Michigan, so is Andy.

Taxi was an award-winning show with a large audience and Kaufman was widely recognized as Latka. On some occasions, audiences would show up to one of Kaufman's stage performances expecting to see him perform as Latka, and heckling him with demands when he did not. Kaufman would punish these audiences with the announcement that he was going to read "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald to them. The audience would laugh at this, not realizing that he was serious and would proceed to read the book to them, continuing despite audience members' departure. At a certain point, he would ask the audience if they wanted him to keep reading, or play a record. When the audience chose to hear the record, the record he cued up was a recording of him continuing to read "The Great Gatsby" from where he had left off. ~~Wikipedia

Even if you don't like Andy's Foreign Man/Latka character that is introduced in this clip of the Tonight Show, in 1979 by Johnny Cash, it is most definitely worth sticking around for his Elvis impersonation, That's When Your Heartaches Begin.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens

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