Stand-up comedy has been far and away my favorite art form for years now. I’m always drawn to its beauty, vulnerability, and bravery, but I think what keeps me coming back is comedy’s utter lack of rules. It is so odd to think that Jerry Seinfeld is in the same profession as Bo Burnham or Tig Notaro. Their personalities are as varied as their forms, yet there are still bound by the shared goal of making the audience laugh and think. But what happens to stand-up when you have no rules for yourself and no goals for the audience?
Well, you have Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman performed for himself, doing what he found amusing, for as long as he found it amusing. Whether it was submitting to the will of Tony Clifton or wrestling women on late-night TV, Kaufman marched boldly in any direction he pleased. So in honor of his beautiful lunacy, we now present you with our top three favorite Andy Kaufman moments.
3) Reading the Great Gatsby
Check out our boy Andy Kaufman skipping the stand-up and opting instead for a reading of the great American novel. When the audience loses interest he offers to play a record instead, a recording of him reading The Great Gatsby aloud. The magic never ends.
2) Begging for change on the David Letterman
Kaufman looks to the audience in a rare moment of sincerity. Sit back and turn a kind eye to this artist who has fallen on tough times– perhaps you’ll be more kind than Letterman’s showrunner.
1) Playing the Bongos on his HBO special
Andy Kaufman accompanies himself on the bongos while regaling the audience with the harvest song of the people of the Caspian Sea. I dare you to resist its infectious beauty.
We hope you enjoyed this look into the late great Andy Kaufman! Come by Stand Up NY soon and see if you can catch a glimpse of his influence in the minds of young comedians as they forge their our paths!