This article was originally published in the Dec. 17, 2015 issue of the now defunct Smashpipe. It was written by Jim Knipfel and Tony Sokol.
Long rumored to have faked his own death as effectively as his hero Elvis in the early ’80s with plans to make a shocking reappearance decades later, no one could have imagined that reappearance would be as the Republican Party front runner.
Andy Kaufman is the Bigfoot of dead comics, sightings have been everywhere since he reportedly succumbed to cancer in 1984, most of these tied to the workings of Bob Zmuda, Andy’s mightly mouthpiece.
Kaufman claimed that if he were to fake his death, he would come out of hiding 20 years later. That would have happened in 2004. Donald Trump appeared on Saturday Night Live in 2004. Trump’s monologue was very Kaufman, taunting the audience, claiming that SNL was luckier to have him than he was to have them. Bagging. Boasting. He could have been Kaufman on Merv Griffin, taunting the whole of femininity.
Like Trump, Kaufman built a successful career om an extremely limited number of routines and catchphrases, many of which entered the popular lexicon. Although Trump has never been known to say “Tank you veddy much,” (or even “thank you,” period.), it’s hard to ignore the fact that Kaufman’s alter-ego, Tony Clifton, was a loud, boorish, confrontational, and occasionally violent entertainer with a massive ego and no talent who somehow managed to become an extremely popular figure in his own right. And Clifton’s hair, it must also be noted, was of questionable pedigree.
Trump is the master of the deal and if he were offered a deal to take a powder and rent out his life to the king of hoaxster comics, he would jump at the chance. Trump was still parking cars in the garages his construction mogul father built, he’d majored in strategic parallel parking in military school, when he caught the World Intergender Wrestling Championship at the Atlantic City Hotel and Casino in 1981. Inspired by the celebrity who got to pin Playboy Playmate Susan Smith for three seconds, he also had the audacity to want to keep the prize money for himself. “Charity? Nobody said anything about charity. I want my money. I earned it. If you want charity, go get Jerry Lewis,” Kaufman demanded.
Kaufman and Trump both have the unique ability, it seems, to take golden opportynities and dribe them into the ground. While Kaufman regularly destroyed appearances, on shows like Merv Griffin, SNL, Fridays and Late Night with David Letterman, alienating his core audience (along with everybody else) and choosing “Heartbeeps” as his one cinematic starring role, Trump, in the years following Kaufman’s supposed death, commandeered much of the Atlantic City boardwalk with his Plaza, Castle, and Taj Mahal casinos, only to allow all three to go bankrupt. Who loses money on a casino if not consciously attempting to make an aesthetic point?
In 1981, Kaufman met the legendary pro wrestler and manager Classy Freddie Blassie (“ya pencil-neck geek”) for breakfast at a Sambo’s restaurant. The result of this historic meeting, My Breakfast with Blassie, an irreverent spoof of the highbrow My Dinner with Andre, is released on video in 1984. The same year Elvis Presley is sighted working the graveyard shift at an E-Z Mart in La Vaca, Arkansas.
Kaufman’s demeanor was as caustic as the one Trump has been laying on the public. In an episode of Taxi, Latka suffers from a multiple personality disorder and does a dead-on impression of Alex just to piss of the actor Judd Hirsch, who was then considered redundant.
Andy disrupted the live broadcast of the Saturday Night Live rip-off Fridays by stopping in the middle of a skit and refusing to say his lines. Seinfeld’s future Cosmo Kramer Michael Richards got so fed up he threw cue cards at the comedian, who threw a glass of water back at Richards. Chaos prevailed. Much like the modern election process.
If it seems like the presidential race this year looks more like a wrestling match than a gubernatorial procedural, you’re right. Andy Kaufman is back and he’s not looking to play Mighty Mouse over women wrestlers