Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hey Andy did you hear about this one?

The genius of Andy Kaufman lies in this: He has the ability to make you laugh without knowing why you are laughing. Long before you had Sasha Cohen "staying in character" to play Borat, there was Andy Kaufman. Before Joaquin-Phoenix shocked the world by flipping out and transforming his persona, there was the original prankster, Andy Kaufman. Like Sushi, Andy's act is an acquired test and there are countless of people who will question what is so funny about performing seemingly mundane tasks on stage? I believe that if you don't "get" him, maybe you aren't supposed to. That's part of the mystique. In a very real way, Kaufman revolutionized what a comedian was. In fact, he didn't call himself a comedian. he preferred to call himself an entertainer. The act consisted of getting a reaction from a crowd. Sometimes that included laughter. Other times it included pissing the audience off. At times, the act was the satisfaction of knowing that the audience was getting "punked" to the delight of Andy. Rather than sticking to set formulas about what a comedian was supposed to do, he paved his own road with the imagination and simplicity of a child. He believed that the most true act of laughter is the one that comes out of nowhere and gets the unsuspecting victim off guard. He was able to find humor in every day things and juxtopose that in a performance. Today's modern comedian fits in that mold. His/Her act is more free flowing and less constrained than comedians of past generations. Just like Einstein ideas shook how we view the world of physics, Andy Kaufman pushed the envelope on what "funny" looks like. In trying to quantify a theme to describe his humor, Ill say it is this: Anticipation and Release. The humor lies in the anticipation of what will happen next. Not knowing, the audience takes the ride with him and where it takes them, only he knows. The other element is silence. Silence when used correctly conveys more than words. The last element that he uses is discongruity. That is using two or more unrelated things and using them in ways that don't make sense. Similar to what Salvador Dali did with regular things in paintings, Kaufman did with words and action. Here is a clip. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. He sure could tell a good joke:LOL