Saturday, May 11, 2013

Drag City Presents: "Andy [Kaufman] & His Grandmother" (Anti-Comedy Album?)

I can vaguely remember my parents watching Taxi re-runs on either Nick at Nite or TV Land when I was a kid; Starring alongside Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Conaway, and Andy Kaufman (Latka), who would all go on to have varying degrees of success, following the show's 1983 finale. Although generally lumped in with stand-up comics, Kaufman was more or less a hoax/performance artist and anti-comedian, for argument's sake. Andy Kaufman's career really only spanned from 1974-84, yet included countless appearances on SNL, Taxi, 11 Letterman visits, The Dating Game, Johhny Carson, Fridays, Inter-Gender Wrestling [women], and a bloody staged on-air 1982 fight with Jerry "The King" Lawler, etc. Some of his most infamous stunts include: reading The Great Gastby to an unruly audience, taking 24 bus loads of fans out for milk and cookies, opening for himself as washed-up lounge singer "Tony Clifton," a pre-concieved TV brawl with Michael Richards, and much more largely misunderstood work.

Chigago-based Indie Rock label Drag City is planning to release Andy Kaufman's first Alternative Comedy album, nearly 30 years after his untimely death, this upcoming July 16th. Andy & His Grandmother was pain-stakingly culled from 82 hours-worth of micro-cassette tapes recorded between 1977-79. "Andy regarded the micro-tape recorder as a fantastic new way of capturing his hoaxing, and carried it with him everywhere, for use at any given moment... Real life was the ultimate frontier for him, and these tapes demonstrate the heart of Andy's comedy. With gusto, he involves those closest to him, as well as total strangers, in put-ons, falsehoods and other provocations, pushing the limit on logic and emotional investment in everyday situations from the trivial to the deeply personal until any suspension of disbelief is out of the question for all involved, and everyone becomes fully immersed in whatever scenario Andy [Kaufman] is suggesting as the new reality," the imprint lamented in a statement. Drag City then recruited a team of esteemed funnymen to help edit together Andy & His Grandmother; a team built around writer/producer Vernon Chatman, editor Rodney Ascher, Kaufman's former sidekick Bob Zmuda, and SNL all-star Bill Hader to record additional narration.

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