Andy Kaufman’s debut album

by Joseph Kleinschmidt

Drag City recently released the first and only album by Andy Kaufman this month. Entitled Andy and his Grandmother, the infamous “song-and-dance-man” recorded the album’s material on microcassettes from 1977 to 1979. He intended to create a prank call comedy album similar to Steve Allen.

Kaufman, who (probably) died in 1984, comes off as the social provocateur he honed later in his career. Over 80 hours of material were originally recorded, from everyday interactions that are often cringe-inducing. Conversations with cab drivers and animals are indicative of his ever-changing persona. The album was compiled by veteran comedy writer Vernon Chatman and SNL’s Bill Hader gives narration between the tracks.

In honor of one of anti-comedy’s enigmas, here are three cringe-worthy-but-memorable moments in Kaufman’s short-lived career:

1. Andy’s stuttering appearance in 1980 on Letterman, after leaving Taxi. He talks about his marriage among other things, completely somber. He begs the audience for money by the end of the bit.

2. His first appearance on SNL, lip-synching the Mighty Mouse theme.

3. Foreign Man’s first appearance on Johnny Carson. He also gives his Elvis impersonation here, one that Elvis said was his favorite.