Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Andy Kaufman was a genius

Yesterday wasn't the first time I'd seen the antics of Andy Kaufman, but it still amazes me how good of a worker he was when it came to wrestling. I like what Sam said yesterday when it seemed like only wrestling fans understood Andy, because the way he really played with and riled up the crowds watching him was amazing. It's a shame he wasn't of better build because he would've been absolutely brilliant as a heel pro wrestler full time.

When I saw the clips of Jerry Lawler and Andy Kaufman for the first time, I think it was last year in a class studying humor, the video we watched made it so that no one could tell whether or not it was fixed. Only after we watched it did our instructor tell us that based on the movie Man on the Moon about Kaufman was the whole thing worked. I was really impressed with how easily Andy Kaufman worked everyone to get him to hate him, and I think it's unfortunate that he was so successful at what he did in the wrestling ring that it cost him so much outside of the ring.

I actually agree with what Jerry Lawler said in his part on Man on the Moon, when he said that the storyline with Andy was a shining moment for wrestling. I obviously am too young to remember, but I would've loved to have seen the publicity their stint on the David Letterman show brought to pro wrestling as a whole. While sometimes the things WWE does makes you wonder if there is a such thing as bad publicity, this moment on the Letterman show just seemed like a stroke of genius at the time. As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for the Mike Tyson/Steve Austin altercation in the late 90s, I'd say that that was the best involvement of a non-wrestler in the wrestling world that I'd personally ever seen, which brings me to another point.

When does it get too much for an "outsider" to get involved with wrestling? Could you ever say that it's enough? Andy Kaufman was certainly involved with it for a while, seeing how in the video he was talking about the promise he had made to send Lawler to the hospital a year prior. Maybe it's because I wasn't watching at the time, but I don't think that I would've grown tired of his shtick. But flash forward to late last year and earlier this year, when Kevin Federline kept coming up, and after a while, I did grow tired of seeing him. I do admit it did great publicity, but it got old after a while and he just drew his heat more for his personal life than by trying to work the crowd, like Andy with his intergender match antics. Is there a difference or is it really just the same thing in a different time?


luistenorio said...

It is really easy to see why wrestling fans understood Andy. You got it, he could get people riled up and create a classic feud with Lawler. Andy did what he always did and made people wonder whether or not it was worked. And that is exactly what wrestlers try to do, really make people believe they are hurt. And wrestling fans could also appreciate his humor because it seemed like his wrestling performance was an extension of his comedy. He would get people riled up, be it audience or cast members, and try to get a response from them like in wrestling. The people were as much a part of Andy's act as he was and it would take a separate audience to see that. It is the kind of humor that we see today in shows like Jackass or movies like Jackass and Borat. Making people angry is a spectacle unto itself.

narwood said...

I was trying to come up with similar movies as well. The trouble I have using Jackass or Borat, though, is in neither did I reach the post-irritation point of appreciation. I'm open to the belief this is my failing, so if someone could try and explain it to me I'd really appreciate it.

What I came up with, instead, were parallels to "My Breakfast with Glassie" : "Coffee and Cigarettes," Linklater, and Kevin Smith. Movies focusing on the extraordinary mundane moments, which resolve into focus only after they are past.

Sam Ford said...

Interesting cross-cultural comparisons here, and I think Borat is probably the most appropriate comparison to portions of Andy's act, but not directly.

As for Carolina's original post, glad to see Andy has made it into other MIT classes as well. And, in regard to the best celebrity appearances on wrestling, I think that Mike Tyson and Cindi Lauper were probably two of the most popular celebrity angles in wrestling history, and we are now covering Lauper, and Kaufman was probably one of the most brilliant performers from a celebrity perspective.

Dennis Rodman's stuff in WCW was also a pretty big deal, and Mr. T seemed pretty heavily promoted, as we saw in class today. One could put K-Fed and Trump in this category as well, in addition to Pete Rose and Lawrence Taylor as far as guys who have had some substantial celebrity involvement in wrestling...