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The Andy Kaufman Special (1977)

The Andy Kaufman Special

Director:Tom Trbovich
Cast:Andy Kaufman, Cindy Williams, Howdy Doody
Genre:Film, Comedy

By Andy Markowitz | Posted

Flawed as it is, Man on the Moon performed the singular service of reminding the world that there once was an Andy Kaufman. Now that you've seen the ersatz, check out the original: The Andy Kaufman Special (originally titled Uncle Andy's Fun House)—which ABC bankrolled in 1977 then shelved for two years due to its aggressive conceptual oddness—is the high-water mark of the dadaist comic's TV career. The familiar early characters are here: Foreign Man (who opens the show by announcing that there won't be a show because he used the network's money to go on vacation), Elvis. But the backbone of the special is a hilarious talk-show satire that inverts and subverts show-biz/celebrity culture more gently but more effectively than the hostile, audience-baiting self-absorption into which Kaufman's act descended. (See Clifton, Tony.) Along the way, he shows home movies, performs "It's a Small World" with an all-black conga band, and conducts a sweet, strange interview with Howdy Doody that may represent the only time Kaufman ever showed his real self to the camera. This is the video to show friends who say they don't get Andy Kaufman.

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