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Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman and His Grandmother (Drag City)

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The constants in Andy Kaufman’s humor involved pushing the limits of discomfort and embarrassment, and the turnaround of expectations. Andy Kaufman and His Grandmother, an album collected from Kaufman’s own micro-cassettes of shtick and (staged?) conversations, archives both the mensch and schmuck sides of his act. Hear him sing his own ditty about Birmingham before practically disowning it, reflecting on why he’s comfortable with other people calling him a genius, cussing out animals over the phone and people who would forcibly remove him from a movie theater...and lots of sex and relationship talk.

That last aspect somewhat resembles a postmodern update on Foster Brooks’ brand of misogyny, but the overall effect of Grandmother more closely resembles a minimalist, twistedly autobiographical (?) take on Firesign Theatre’s style of surrealistic shenanigans and Albert Brooks’ ’70s conceptual comedy albums. Grandmother is a worthwhile reminder of a controversial comic voice. Now, how about a home video retrospective of Kaufman’s memorable strangeness?