So Bad He’s Still Good – 30 Years On

Seminal comedic weirdo Andy Kaufman (famous in his own right, then famously represented in all his famousness by Jim Carrey in Man on the Moon) claimed to have encountered hack joker Tony Clifton in a comedy club in 1969. From there a mythology grew, and Kaufman’s alter ego took on a life as notorious as his own. Sometimes he was played by Kaufman, other times by friends and colleagues, just to keep the question going whether Clifton was real or a hoax. Regardless of who was behind him, Clifton managed to stay impossibly untalented in the face of all his exposure. He could be counted on to relentlessly offend an audience or host, and to sully a perfectly good song with his atonal singing voice. Kaufman’s parody of the vanilla schlub welcoming guests to a hotel lounge is beloved to many who enjoy an abrasive or artfully stupid adventure into faux comedy. It has created a legacy emulated by the likes of Borscht Belt ding-dong Neil Hamburger. Twenty-six years after Kaufman’s death, the painful fun of Clifton’s career lives on in The Return of Tony Clifton, testimony to his fans’ penchant for nontraditional comedy as well as to Kaufman’s enduring legend.
Oct. 28-30, 8 p.m., 2010

 
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