Perhaps it was the stubborn rumor that, disguised as Tony Clifton, he threw eggs at Dinah Shore.Maybe they heard about his brief flirtation with levitation.
At fourteen bottles of beer on the wall, he leaves the stage. Please, Andy, do it.”Applause erupts when he returns and completes the ordeal.
One of the regular young comics is down on his knees in front of the stage: “Don’t stop, Andy, I’m gonna cum.” Andy massages the cadence—faster, then slower, then faster again.
.”Two men cover their ears; two others start clapping.
This is the New York comedy showcase where Kaufman used to be the “house weirdo,” ordering meals and eating them onstage, playing kiddie records, showing home movies, doing everything but telling real jokes. Earlier, he was recognized by a gaggle of pimps in Fascination, a sleazy slice of electronic video-game heaven just off Times Square. “There are such psychological implications to that song, such great things you can do. The problem becomes what to do the next time, when everyone expects you not to be funny for ten minutes.
Then, riding here in a hansom cab, the driver, a pretty brunette, claimed to be a fan of his from Saturday Night Live. In 1982, I hope to take an audience around the world in an ocean liner. ”By 1982, Kaufman figures to need a restful cruise. Kaufman’s solution to this problem is not to be funny for twenty minutes, and then for forty minutes. That space past “intellectual” comedy, an uncharted area in which network executives fear to tread, that’s where Andy Kaufman feels most comfortable.
“I read where you gave a show at Carnegie Hall and took the audience out for milk and cookies,” she said. This year, he plans to complete his third novel (none published), which he describes as “the story of a man’s life from start to finish.” When ABC’s hit sitcom Taxi (he plays the timid but sex-crazed immigrant mechanic Latka Gravas) lets out for the summer, he’d like to make a ninety-nine-cent national tour “so everybody can afford to see me.” Heartbeeps, in which he costars with Bernadette Peters, will be released later in the year, and he hopes to wrap up a screenplay, The Tony Clifton Story, for Universal. But it doesn’t take a profound comic mind to see where that is leading. Since he began simulating heart attacks in concert and wrestling women on Saturday Night Live two years ago, the networks have become wary.Clifton, a frog-voiced Las Vegas lounge lizard, is the strangest of Kaufman’s strange creations. Kaufman wanders onstage and begins lamely sing-songing, accompanied by tiny, mock-festive hops: “A hundred bottles of beer on the wall, a hunnerd bottles of beer …” The audience titters. The special he did for ABC spent two years in the can before being aired because, Andy will tell you, Fred Silverman, then at ABC, was convinced Kaufman was crazy. “Every time my manager approached big network executives or even cable, they told him I was too dangerous.Nobody enjoyed pushing the envelope more than Andy Kaufman, the brilliant pro wrestler who earned a living making people laugh. He struts offstage, pumping his arms like Bruce Jenner in a Wheaties commercial. “That was magical,” he says in childlike tones as he treats us to ice cream in an all-night deli.Many of them also wanted to knock him out, and that was the secret of his success. His friend Robin Williams once said, “Kaufman’s like a squirrel going over the Grand Canyon saying, ‘Give up the nuts or die.’” In the early ’80s, Kaufman was the most daring, avant garde, and obnoxious performer in the country. “' A Hundred Bottles of Beer’ has always been a fantasy of mine.Kaufman was not content with his clever appearances on , or as Latka, the cutie pie he played on the hit TV show, Taxi. His famed antics—wrestling women, his evil alter-ego, Tony Clifton—were captured with wit and flair by David Hirshey in “Beyond Laughter.” It was originally published in the April 1981 issue of Out of the blue, in the middle of the action, an extremely clever comic actor began counting, very slowly, and with great concentration: one, two, three, four… Scott sings “Sixty-six bottles of beer on the wall, sixty-six bottles of beer.” Elvis takes us down to fifty-three. But there’s a little voice that says, ‘Oh, no, you can’t do that, that’s breaking all the rules.’ That’s the voice of show business. He has stumbled onto a secret of comedy: the unexpected is funny.enunciating each of the numbers with the utmost deliberation, as if they had gotten away from him and he was gathering them up again: five, six, seven, eight… It is on a weekday morning as Andy Kaufman strides into the Improvisation. He just, well, does things…It has already been a good night for Kaufman. Then Kaufman increases the pressure by counting back up for a few bottles, whispering a little, now singing again. Then this other little voice says, ‘Try it.’ And most of the time, when the voice comes on and says, ‘No,’ that’s the time it works.” He is speechless for a moment. ”You want to be happy for him, this overgrown child, but something holds you back. And what could be more unexpected than a comedian coming out for ten minutes and not being funny at all?