Tag Archives: Andy Kaufman

R.I.P. Greg Giraldo

I was all set to type an essay about Arthur Penn, the distinguished director who just passed away at 88, when I received word that Greg Giraldo passed away this afternoon. Arthur, you’re going to have to be patient with me.

I was saddened to hear that you passed on today, but you’ve had a long life filled with achievements and recognition. When you’re pushing 90, the news is sad but not shocking. Giraldo, on the other hand, was literally half your age. This year, thanks to some major network face time, it seemed like his career was finally transcending from revered cult audience to the widespread acclaim that he so richly deserved. And now he’s gone, forever, four days after being rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

I am heartbroken.

My condolences to his family and many friends, as well as the millions of people around the world whose days – hell, lives were brightened by his comedy.

Video: Just For Laughs

Greg, I hope you are finally at peace.

I hope you can tell Mitch Hedberg how much we miss him. Please give Richard Jeni a hug, and I’ll bet Robert Schimmel could use one as well.

And please confirm that Andy Kaufman is really up there. If Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix could hold their tongue for two years, there’s still a chance Andy is laughing his ass off somewhere in Minnesota. With Elvis.

There will be a hole in my heart every time I watch a Roast knowing how much better you would have made it. But I can only imagine how great the roasts are on the other side, with Hedberg and Kinison and Pryor and Hicks and Lenny and Carlin and Rodney…that room is a little too full, if you know what I mean. Tell the people in charge we need the giants down here, especially now.

And thank you for every smile you put on my face, every laugh that overtook me, every tear that flowed from my eyes because I was doubled over and gasping for air. You had a gift and you shared it with me. I’ll have to make do with the albums and DVDs and internet videos…and memories.

Rest in Peace, brother.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten From Dangerfield’s

In yesterday’s essay about the loss of Robert Schimmel, I mentioned his early break on the Young Comedians Special on HBO. It’s amazing to look back at the number of famous comedians who were launched from that showcase, and to this day many still single out Rodney Dangerfield as the guy who helped them take that next crucial step in their careers.

A lesser comic might have been concerned that these new guys might overshadow them or at least become viable competition. After failing in his younger days as Jack Roy and then reinventing himself as the Rodney persona, I think he had an appreciation for how fragile success can be, and made an effort to help those he thought were worthy of a shot.

And I doubt he was worried about competitionRodney was the master.

So here are Ten From Dangerfield’s in NYC, featuring some great comics – many of whom got their career-making break from Rodney himself. Wish they’d release these old shows on DVD – people like Maurice LaMarche deserve better.

01) Bill Hicks

02) Bob Nelson

03) Richard Lewis

04) Bob Saget

05) Andrew Dice Clay

06) Fred Stoller

07) Tim Thomerson

08) Sam Kinison

09) Andy Kaufman

10) Roseanne Barr

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The King…

elvis presley grave

…and this one had his title bestowed upon him by his accomplishments. He was, simply, The King. Unlike a later entertainer who made up his own titles, shamefully appropriating a royal moniker for himself. Hell, he even misinterpreted a birthday cake from MTV as an award for Artist of the Millennium. (If there were such an award, even Even Presley wasn’t that – I’d have to vote Frank Sinatra or Charlie Chaplin). But I’m not going to kick a man when he’s down.

If you don’t know much about Elvis Presley at this point, you probably don’t care enough to learn about him. So I provide the links below as a courtesy for those of you who wax nostalgic this weekend and want to pick up an old album or hit Netflix up for a movie. Hard to believe it’s been 32 years since Elvis died at 42; he’s gone but will never be forgotten.

But if you visit a certain donut shop in Minnesota, look closely

This one’s for you, Al Kohler.

Elvis website.

Elvis filmography.

Elvis discography.

Elvis Wiki.

Kurt Russell played Elvis, and well.

Uhh…so did Andy Kaufman – amazing!

Not The King

Not The King

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Stand Up Wit…Maria Bamford

The only time you will ever think "dog" when Maria Bamford's name is mentioned.

This is the only time you will ever think of the word "dog" when Maria Bamford's name is mentioned.

If they ever remake the movie Sybil, casting directors need look no further than Maria Bamford. She’s already got the multiple personality thing down so well, I’m starting to wonder if her actual speaking voice (think a more intellectual Georgette from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) is really one of her characters and she’s hiding elsewhere. Because as hilarious as it is to hear the caustic observations Bamford shoots out like so much confetti, it’s even funnier hearing it coming out of the mouth of the innocent sounding attractive lady who is holding the microphone. It’s as if her face is just the conduit for a couple of dozen people in her head fighting for stage time…in a controlled, orderly compulsive fashion, of course.

This is Bamford’s third album, and like How To Win and The Burning Bridges Tour, is flat-out hilarious. She’s savaged family members before, but never as funny as scripting her parents lines so she can practice being heckled, or torching her more-successful sister. (Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Thanksgiving at the Bamford home). Of course, ehe also targets her own inadequacies as well as some deserving targets (my favorite being the tyrannical pet advisor). And anyone who starts a routine by imitating the baby Jesus (a/k/a/ “B.J.”) leaving voicemails is telling you there aren’t many lines she won’t cross…or in Bamford’s case, vault over.

Even though I’m familiar with her work, I’m still stunned when she lets out with a few well chosen obsceneties because she’s that good keeping me locked in on her stage persona. A wonderful mimic, she doesn’t just do characters, she inhabits them, and if there’s one drawback to her audio CD it’s that you don’t get to see her posture, gestures and facial impressions. But that’s a small price to pay when the material is as consistently funny as it is here.

The tag “alternative” comic really boils down to the antithesis of a Vegas joke routine or the standard hackneyed observational comedy targets, with more journeys into storytelling or character assimilation. Bamford is extremely comfortable – and fearless – playing in this arena; her tightrope walk across a chasm of insanity is dazzling to the point where one wonders whether she’s crafted a majestic persona or has merely stripped her psyche bare for all to see…and in an entertaining way.

Crazy? Or crazy like a fox? No one ever really figured out Andy Kaufman, and I imagine only those close to Bamford know the truth here either. If you are one who can get on board with her journey you will be richly rewarded. Look no further than the last track where she channels a hack “chick comic”; it’s such a complete and overt transition it’s as if someone suddenly switched channels on your TV from Adult Swim to The View. (And I imagine there are a few lady comics who will delete Maria from their Christmas card list…)

The CD alone would be highly recommended, but the fact that it includes the entire web series The Maria Bamford Show, it’s a no-brainer. The webisodes are hilarious and now can be enjoyed in a better format and setting.

Buy the CD/DVD directly from Maria (autographed!)

Maria Bamford’s MySpace page and website.

Check out some clips on Rooftop Comedy.

maria bamford 2

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