Andy Kaufman - life and death hoax

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Offline MJonmind

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Andy Kaufman - life and death hoax

  • on: November 15, 2011, 01:45:11 AM
I was just watching (on the side) some of the movie Man on the Moon.  I highly recommend watching it for the many MJ hoax parallels that jump out at you.

Man on the Moonis a1999Americanbiographical filmabout the American entertainerAndy Kaufman, starringJim Carrey.
  Andy Kaufman's Jim Carrey) "foreign man" character appears in black-and-white, declaring that (due to massive editing), this is actually the end of the film, not the beginning. He plays a phonograph record alongside the credits before walking off. Kaufman then comes back, and, in his normal voice, claiming he "had to get rid of the people who don't understand me, and don't want to try," he proceeds to show the story of his life on a film projector, starting with his childhood home in Great Neck, New York, c. 1957.
Kaufman is a struggling performer whose act fails in nightclubs because, while the audience wants comedy
, he sings children’s songs and refuses to tell conventional jokes. As the audience begins to believe that Kaufman may have no real talent, his peculiar "foreign man" puts on a rhinestone jacket and does a dead-on Elvis impersonation and song. The audience bursts into applause, realizing Kaufman had tricked them.

(With this hoax MJ seems to delight in tricking fooling in different ways hoaxers and non-hoaxers with various antics/controversies, TMZ news stories.)

He catches the eye of talent agent George Shapiro anny DeVito), who signs Kaufman as a client and immediately lands him a network TV series, Taxi, much to the dismay of sitcom-hating Kaufman. Because of the money, visibility, and promise that he can do his own television special, Kaufman accepts the role on Taxi, turning his foreign man into a mechanic named Latka Gravas. He secretly hates doing the show, however, and exasperates co-stars with his behavior.
Invited to catch a different act at a nightclub, Shapiro witnesses a performance from a rude, loud-mouthed lounge singer, Tony Clifton
, whom Andy wants to guest-star on Taxi. Clifton's bad attitude is matched by his horrible appearance and demeanor. But backstage, when he meets Shapiro in person, Clifton takes off his sunglasses and we see that he is actually Kaufman. Clifton is a “villain character” created by Kaufman and his creative partner, Bob Zmuda Paul Giamatti). Once again, the gag is on the audience.

(This sort of reminds me of Conrad Murray the supposed killer, but who represent MJ (and possibly is in disguise as him IMO.)

Kaufman's fame increases with his Saturday Night Live appearances, but has problems with his newfound fame. When he travels to college campuses, audiences dislike his strange sense of humor and simply want to see his more famous TV characters, so he deliberately antagonizes them by reading The Great Gatsbyaloud from start to finish. Kaufman shows up on the Taxi set as Clifton and proceeds to cause chaos until he is removed from the studio lot. He relates to Shapiro that he never knows exactly how to entertain an audience “short of faking my own death or setting the theater on fire.”
Kaufman decides to become a professional wrestler -– but to emphasize the “villain” angle, he would wrestle only women (hired actresses) and then berate them after winning, declaring himself "Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion." He becomes smitten with one woman he wrestles, Lynne Margulies (Courtney Love), and they begin a romantic relationship.
The wrestling Kaufman enjoys getting a rise out of the crowds and feuds publicly with Jerry Lawler, a professional male wrestler , who challenges Kaufman to a "real" wrestling match, which Kaufman accepts. Lawler easily overpowers and seriously injures Kaufman, resulting in the comedian wearing a neck brace. Lawler and an injured Kaufman appear on NBC's Late Night With David Letterman, theoretically to call a truce, but Lawler insults Kaufman, who throws a drink at the wrestler and spews a vicious tirade of epithets. It is revealed that Kaufman and Lawler were in fact good friends.
(Does this remind anyone of MJ and Tommy Matolla’s very public fight?)Andy pays a price when he is banned from Saturday Night Live by a vote of audience members, weary of his wrestling antics. Shapiro calls to inform him that Taxi had been canceled. An appearance on a live TV comedy show, ABC's Fridays, turns into a fiasco when Kaufman refuses to speak his lines. His television special also is a flop.
Out of the blue, Kaufman calls together Lynne, Zmuda and Shapiro to disclose that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer and may die soon. They aren't sure whether to believe this, thinking it could be yet another Kaufman stunt, with Zmuda actually believing a fake death would be a fantastic prank. With short time to live, Kaufman gets a booking at Carnegie Hall, his dream venue. The performance is a memorable success, culminating with Kaufman inviting the entire audience out for milk and cookies. His health deteriorates. Desperate, he heads to the Philippines to seek a medical "miracle” (actually psychic surgery), where doctors supposedly pull out infected organs from the body; he discovers the scam and laughs at the irony. He dies soon after. Friends and loved ones do a sing-along with a video of Andy at his funeral.

(This totally reminds me of the memorial, funeral, etc.)

One year later, in 1985, Tony Clifton appears at Andy Kaufman's tribute at The Comedy Store
's main stage performing, "I Will Survive". The camera pans over the crowd and reveals Zmuda in the audience, hinting that Kaufman’s legacy lives on through imitators; a neon portrait of Kaufman is shown among other comedy legends. During the final credits, Kaufman briefly peeks in black-and-white again.

(I honestly think this was another artist that Michael enjoyed and admired for his creative genius, and that he modelled his hoax after in some respects.

I looked to see if anyone had started a thread on him, and there was one that mentions him briefly.;topic=6312.0;last_msg=100595

Someone has made a 5 part series on Youtube showing Michael Jackson and Andy Kaufman parallels.  S/he includes TII, Moonwalker, the Memorial,  and more.  It’s quite interesting.  It tells me another reason why we should be careful about jumping to conclusions too quickly about how MJ pulled this off.  AK delighted in tricking the audience with hoaxes within hoaxes, even inciting their hatred in bringing about another purpose.  Then he would laugh at them for being so gullible.  In the end people grew to love him for his sheer genius in captivating their imaginations and making them think.

1-5 parts.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 01:58:11 AM by MJonmind »


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Re: Andy Kaufman - life and death hoax

  • on: November 15, 2011, 03:03:37 AM
parallels everywhere errrr

Offline MJonmind

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Re: Andy Kaufman - life and death hoax

  • on: November 15, 2011, 04:45:58 AM

In 1982 AK had an accident which was actually a hoax, which reminds me of MJ's incident getting his head burned in the Pepsi commercial 2 years later, which I believe was staged, to set things up drug-wise for this death hoax.  MJ was surrounded by these masters at their crafts.
Later, after a challenge from professional wrestler Jerry "The King" Lawler, Kaufman would step into the ring (in the Memphis wrestling circuit) with a man — Lawler himself. Their ongoing feud, often featuring Jimmy Hart and other heels in Kaufman's corner, included a broken neck for Kaufman as a result of Lawler's piledriver and a famous on-air fight on a 1982 episode of Late Night with David Letterman. For some time after that, Kaufman appeared everywhere wearing a neck brace, insisting that his injuries were worse than they were. Kaufman would continue to defend the Inter-Gender Championship in the Mid-South Coliseum and offered an extra prize, other than the $1,000: that if he were pinned, the woman who pinned him would get to marry him and that Kaufman would also shave his head.
Kaufman and Lawler's famous feud and wrestling matches were later revealed to have been staged, or a "work", as the two were actually friends. The truth about its being a "work" was not disclosed until more than 10 years after Kaufman's death, when the Emmy-nominated documentary, A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman, aired on NBC in 1995. Coincidentally, Jim Carrey is the one who reveals the secret, and would later go on to play Kaufman in the 1999 film Man on the Moon. In a 1997 interview with theMemphis Flyer, Lawler claimed he had improvised during their first match and the Letterman incident. Although officials at St. Francis Hospital stated that Kaufman's neck injuries were real, in his 2002 biography It's Good to Be the King...Sometimes, Lawler detailed how they came up with the angle and kept it quiet. Even though Kaufman's injury was legitimate, the pair pretended that the injury was more severe than it was. He also said that Kaufman's explosion on Letterman was Kaufman's own idea, including when Lawler slapped Kaufman out of his chair.

Offline gwynned

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Re: Andy Kaufman - life and death hoax

  • on: May 29, 2012, 11:38:13 PM
I just watched Man in the Moon for the first time post-hoax and I was stunned by the parallels and the not so subtle indications that Kaufman faked his death.  At one point he actually says that the only thing left for him to do comedically is fake his death.

But there was something else.  A kind of light went off and I was suddenly certain that Kaufman is a vital part of the hoax.  His character creation in particular is reminiscent of some of the off beat characters we've seen.  I'm not saying that Michael didn't create them or could not have created them, but I can sense an amazing and ridiculous collaboration between them!

In doing research, I stumbled upon this little article:

On the day John Belushi was found dead of a drug overdose, Andy Kaufman went to see George Shapiro, his manager. As Shapiro recalls it, Kaufman came bounding into his office and said, as apparently serious as he was about anything: "John Belushi faked his death! I can't believe it. I can't believe he's stealing my bit!


The comeback stage is getting a bit crowded with all the undead.  Which is not to say, I would not LOVE to know that Belushi was still alive.   No one has ever made me laugh harder than Belushi. 


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