Andy Kaufman Revealed!: Best Friend Tells All

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9780316681230: Andy Kaufman Revealed!: Best Friend Tells All

Best known for his sweet-natured character Latka on Taxi, Andy Kaufman was the most influential comic of the generation that produced David Letterman, John Belushi, and Robin Williams. A regular on the early days of Saturday Night Live (where he regularly disrupted planned skits), Kaufman quickly became known for his idiosyncratic roles and for performances that crossed the boundaries of comedy, challenging expectations and shocking audiences. Kaufmans death from lung cancer at age 35 (hed never smoked) stunned his fans and the comic community that had come to look to him as its lightning rod and standard bearer. Bob Zmuda, Kaufmans closest friend, producer, writer, and straight man, breaks his twenty-year silence about Kaufman and unmasks the man he knew better than anyone. He chronicles Kaufmans meteoric rise, the development of his extraordinary personas, the private man behind the driven actor and comedian, and answers the question most often asked: Did Andy Kaufman fake his own death? A movie about Kaufman starring Jim Carrey, directed by Milos Forman, and co-executive produced by author Bob Zmuda and Danny DeVitos Jersey Films, is scheduled for national release in fall 1999.

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Review:

American comedian Andy Kaufman (1949-1984) was a performer like no other--a rule-breaking iconoclast who blurred the line between performance art and comedy, at times between life and art itself. Misunderstood by the public at large during his lifetime, and embraced by a cult of fans that has consistently grown since his premature death from cancer, Kaufman is the perfect counter-cultural martyr, ripe for a Gap khakis ad. Like Lenny Bruce before him, Kaufman chafed at the reigns of comedy; he didn't always want to make people laugh, in fact he wished to make them uncomfortable. One might consider those notorious French bad-boy playwrights Alfred Jarry and Antonin Artaud (who pushed the envelope of good taste and thoroughly enjoyed confusing their audiences) to be Kaufman's spiritual predecessors, though this might be taking things too seriously. His most well-known routines--the inept stand-up comedian "foreign man," the basis for the character Latka Gravas on the hit sitcom "Taxi"; the grizzled, professional lounge lizard Tony Clifton; and the reigning world champion of inter-gender wrestling--all hinged on making the crowd squirm. Life was a show for Kaufman, who began staging elaborate shows for friends and family at the age of 7; everything was a put-on and yet totally, dead-on serious.

Judging by Bob Zmuda's book (released in anticipation of a biographical movie starring Jim Carrey), Kaufman wasn't the easiest guy to be a best friend to. But, as Zmuda tells things, he rose to the challenge--letting Kaufman confide that he had a daughter he'd never seen, keeping his mouth shut at the appropriate times, and otherwise fulfilling best-friend duties with aplomb. Andy Kaufman got the friend he deserved in his lifetime, but this is not the biography he deserves; it is written in a well-meaning though hackneyed and hard-to-digest style. Simple points are made again and again, as if the two(!) authors were attempting to fuse a poorly-written college essay with a USA Today article. And Mr. Zmuda makes the mistake of assuming that his own history will be of much interest to the reader, who is ostensibly reading a tell-all about Kaufman, not his best friend. There are tremendous anecdotes here; about half the book is filled with glorious tales of artful mischief, hijinks, pranks, and funny stuff that Zmuda and Kaufman pulled on friends, crowds, and strangers. Fans will undoubtedly want to pick this one up, while those with a more casual interest are cautioned to perhaps look elsewhere for a less clumsily written tome. --Mike McGonigal

About the Author:

Bob Zmuda is an American author, comedian, producer and director best known as the sidekick, co-writer and friend of cult personality Andy Kaufman. Bob Zmuda occasionally portrayed Kaufman's Tony Clifton character on stage and for television appearances. He co-executive produced the 1999 film "Man on the Moon."

Matthew Scott Hansen resides in southern California with his wife and son and their two dogs and three cats. This is his first novel.

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Book Description Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Little Brown & Co, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Book Description Best known for his sweet-natured character Latka on Taxi, Andy Kaufman was the most influential comic of the generation that produced David Letterman, John Belushi, and Robin Williams. A regular on the early days of Saturday Night Live (where he regularly disrupted planned skits), Kaufman quickly became known for his idiosyncratic roles and for performances that crossed the boundaries of comedy, challenging expectations and shocking audiences. Kaufmans death from lung cancer at age 35 (hed never smoked) stunned his fans and the comic community that had come to look to him as its lightning rod and standard bearer. Bob Zmuda, Kaufmans closest friend, producer, writer, and straight man, breaks his twenty-year silence about Kaufman and unmasks the man he knew better than anyone. He chronicles Kaufmans meteoric rise, the development of his extraordinary personas, the private man behind the driven actor and comedian, and answers the question most often asked: Did Andy Kaufman fake his own death? A movie about Kaufman starring Jim Carrey, directed by Milos Forman, and co-executive produced by author Bob Zmuda and Danny DeVitos Jersey Films, is scheduled for national release in fall 1999. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-949840335

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Book Description Book Condition: New. Ships From Canada. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 306 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Book Description Best known for his sweet-natured character Latka on Taxi, Andy Kaufman was the most influential comic of the generation that produced David Letterman, John Belushi, and Robin Williams. A regular on the early days of Saturday Night Live (where he regularly disrupted planned skits), Kaufman quickly became known for his idiosyncratic roles and for performances that crossed the boundaries of comedy, challenging expectations and shocking audiences. Kaufmans death from lung cancer at age 35 (hed never smoked) stunned his fans and the comic community that had come to look to him as its lightning rod and standard bearer. Bob Zmuda, Kaufmans closest friend, producer, writer, and straight man, breaks his twenty-year silence about Kaufman and unmasks the man he knew better than anyone. He chronicles Kaufmans meteoric rise, the deve. Bookseller Inventory # 9184218311

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