How did Andy Kauffman ruin his career?

An extension from ‘actors who runied their career’ how did andy Kauffman ruin his career?
(I’m sorry but I really love it when I see actors crash and burn)

I’d say a good beginning was behaving like a total lunatic and/or jackass (i.e. Tony Clifton) and expecting everyone to just accept it and call him a genius. He liked to pull practical jokes that were somewhat disturbing etc. I’d say he just went too far too often.

Getting cancer sure put a damper on it.

I think it began when he started wrestling women.

What sort of practical jokes did he do, I know that the BBC tried to promote the film based on him by showing Taxi on the afternoons.

Echoing t-keela I think he went too long with the wrestling gags. Where it could have been funny 1-2 times he kept it up — to the exculsion of much else — for months (IIRC maybe years).

It lost its humor by the end it was pretty nutty – if the movie was Man in the Moon then they touch on this hurting, but not “ruining”, his career.

He died.

Incidentally, I think he was a genius. But there you are.

(Changing the subject a bit) Mc Duff, d’you go Salford Uni?

All I know is that Latka, Kauffman’s character on Taxi, suddenly became second banana when Christopher Lloyd joined the cast. Dunno if that was cause or effect though. AFAIK, Taxi was the peak of Kauffman’s career. It looks like a case of a modestly gifted comedian being a one-hit wonder.

Ditto. I saw the question and my first thought was “He died” as well.


A genius? Give me a break.

Forgive me, but I’ve never been able to see what the appeal of Andy Kaufman has been. I’ve seen most of his work, seen the profiles on TV and the one thought that continues to run through my mind is “Why do people think this is so freaking funny? It’s not! It’s just embarassing to watch!”

A genius? Hardly. Groucho was a genius. Sid Ceaser was a genius. Andy Kaufman was a one-hit wonder whose death only mysteriously elevated him to sainthood.

I mostly agree Euty. I never found him funny and don’t see what the post-death facination is either. Why on earth was there a whole movie dedicated to this loser?

Audiences used to watch him like people watch an accident. He was just too weird to ignore. At first…people didn’t know if he was a freak, an act, genius, insane or what.

That’s still debatable. I suppose it takes some ingenuity to take his act to its level of success.

I don’t know that Andy Kaufman did any ONE thing that “ruined” his career. I think people just got tired of him. Sooner or later, that happens to most celebrities.

I never thought Andy Kaufman was a genius, or even a great comic. But every once in a while. he’d come up with a very original, thoroughly inspired idea that would give me a huge laugh. To put it crudely, a few minutes of Andy Kaufman every three or four months could be a delight. Anything more than that could be a real drag. When I knew he was going to be a guest on Letterman, I’d eagerly watch. But I’d never subject myself to an hour of Kaufman in ANY setting.

Incidentally, I loathed “Man in the Moon,” because its message (a message echoed by many Kaufman idolizers) was that EVERYTHING he did was genius. If he did a bit that made people laugh, well, that proved he was a comic genius! And if he did a bit that annoyed people, well, THAT proved he was a genius too (“don’t you see, he was exploring the philosophical question of what it means to be funny… so when people didn’t laugh, that meant Andy SUCCEEDED!”). And if he did a bit that made people turn off their TV Sets in disgust, well, THAT proved he was a genius, too (“don’t you get it, Andy’s only purpose was to get a reaction- since disgust is a reaction, that proves he SUCCEEDED!”). But I suppose there’s no arguing with someone who believes that anything Andy did was, ipso facto, brilliant.

I think Kaufman was a sometimes-amusing, semi-talented comic. His good stuff was hilarious, but his good stuff came infrequently, and even then, a little bit of Kaufman went a loooong way.

I think his non-funny stuff was important because it broke performance conventions in a new and interesting way. It wan’t always worth actually watching over and over, but it was worth thinking about the fact that he made people watch something very very different from what they expected or even wanted. He wasn’t trying to please the audience in order to sell something to them. He was using them not as an auidence, but as props for another auidence reflecting on the whole situation.

I saw one of his movies on Showtime one morning a couple of years ago – My Breakfast with [Freddie] Blassie, I believe. It was as someone else here described: Like watching an accident. It looked like a 6th grader wrote and directed it.

If you don’t think Andy Kauffman was a genius, then the terrorists have won!

P.S. I agree with those who feel he was an overrated, self-indulgent, unprofessional hack.

He made a really bad movie, Heartbeeps. Never a good career move.

I think it was odd of him to base a comedy career on elaborate mind games instead of, say, jokes and concentional humor, but that’s what made him distinctive and memorable.

I’ve always explained it like this.

Kaufman himself thinks what he’s doing is hilarious. He could care less whether or not the casual audience member finds it funny. The “in-the-know” audience recognizes this, and if you look at Kaufman’s act with this in mind, you can tell that he’s cracking himself up, but working to maintain the deadpan.

So with this knowledge, and identifying with his point of view, Kaufman’s act does become funny, but in an intellectual, “meta-funny” way. In other words, the fact that it isn’t particularly funny according to any conventional definition, but that Kaufman is doing it anyway and giggling like a fool inside, makes it funny. It’s hard to explain.

That being said, I can only take it in small doses, and it doesn’t really make me laugh out loud. I will grin, and appreciate that Kaufman is doing “comedy about comedy” rather than just straight gags. But it’s an awful lot of work to see it operating on all the different levels, and it can be tiring after a while.

You mean this thread isn’t about Andy, but about a thread about Andy?

Just as I’d lose patience with a person who could be successful but keeps screwing it up through compulsive self-destructive behaviour, I lost patience with Kaufman. I’ve been wtching Taxi in reruns lately and the show just got around to the “Vic Ferarri” plotline. Feh. I’d rather watch Christopher Lloyd.