By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
If You Believe
If Andy Kaufman decided to return from the dead, wouldn’t he do it somewhere better than House of Blues — like on national television? Even so, several “Andy Kaufman — Dead or Alive?” attendees put the odds of Andy’s second coming at around 50/50, while most Kaufman fanatics knew the likelihood was more like one-in-a-trillion, but came just in case. One man’s shirt read, “If Andy doesn’t show up, I’ll kill him.”
The event, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the comedian’s demise, was put together by Kaufman accomplice Bob Zmuda (and was featured two weeks ago as an L.A. Weekly cover story). After shelling out $50 for a cheap seat and standing in line for an hour — some paid up to $250 for VIP tickets — I was ushered into the club and stood around for a few more hours. Zmuda opened by introducing show-biz types who had Kaufman-related stories, including Andy Dick, who joked that his recent drug bust at Coachella may have been a Kaufmanesque hoax.
Finally, they showed the movie, which Zmuda had promoted as an “Andy Kaufman film that’s never been presented in public and will never be shown again.” That’s when things turned ugly. The film didn’t feature Andy Kaufman, but rather Jim Carrey insisting he was Andy Kaufman. A disgusted audience member yelled, “Bob Zmuda sucks! Jim Carrey sucks!” Others stormed out, muttering, “I want my money back.” When the movie ended, booing drowned out the applause. Security guards were discussing the possibility of a riot.
Tony Clifton temporarily redeemed the event. The obnoxious alter ego of Kaufman and Zmuda was in fine form and boasted an elaborate Vegas-style stage show. He even dumped water on an audience member who seemed genuinely pissed off. (Then again, in classic Kaufman/Clifton fashion, the man could’ve been a plant.)
After the show, Zmuda invited everyone across the street to the Comedy Store for milk and cookies. Following an impressive display of Mexican wrestling, Moonlite BunnyRanch owner Dennis Hof came onstage with a bunch of his breast-flashing prostitutes and announced that anyone who shows up the next night at his legal Nevada whorehouse with a ticket stub will be given a freebie. Everyone was then invited to walk a few blocks to Kaufman’s former apartment, where much Andy memorabilia was on display.
For all of the hype, though, the event lacked the mind-fuck for which Kaufman was famous. Couldn’t they have at least faked Kaufman’s resurrection? Then again, even from beyond the grave, the ultimate prankster did dupe hundreds of people into spending thousands of dollars on a mediocre-at-best event.
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