Album Review: Andy and His Grandmother by Andy Kaufman
Fairly Good, Based on 7 Critics
Pitchfork - 72 Based on rating 7.2/10
Between 1977 and 1979, Andy Kaufman-- and his act-- changed. In '77, the comedian (or, as he preferred, "song-and-dance man") was 28 years old, and his bits were marked by wide-eyed innocence. At that point, it often seemed like his characters were pre-pubescent or eerily unaware of the adult world; in fact, much of his material at the time was culled from previous stints entertaining childrens' birthday parties as a teenager or hosting a kids' show, "Uncle Andy's Funhouse," in college.
It probably seemed quaint at the time, Andy Kaufman fooling around with a micro-tape recorder to capture every "slice of life" he deemed worthwhile between 1977 and 1979, and prodding each of them for some kind of insight into the human condition. As much as Kaufman was a dangerous anarchist who would betray his fans, fellow performers, and family just to provoke (often uncomfortable) reactions, he was also a populist with tremendous empathy. And, in many respects, he was a total visionary.Kaufman was so hyper-obsessed with inauthenticity in everyday life, there is still a plausible argument that he may have planned and faked his own death almost 30 years ago.
Released nearly 30 years after his death, Andy Kaufman's "debut comedy album" Andy and His Grandmother is a skittish, strange hodge-podge of half-baked ideas, leftover recordings, and found-sound brilliance, and for folks who take their album titles literally, it contains very little material from his Grandmother. It's also an excuse for the "death hoax" rumor to rear its head again, but it's doubtful that Kaufman would have green-lit such an archival project because there are moments here that are certifiably "hardcore fans only" (a long bit where Andy defends the tag of "genius"; too much relationship talk to take). Preaching to the converted just wasn't his bag.
For US comedian Andy Kaufman, the acquisition of a micro-cassette recorder enabled him to archive the chaos he wilfully provoked wherever he went. The plan was to compile an album capturing “the comedy of everyday existence”. Twenty-nine years after his death – or supposed death, many believe Kaufman even faked this – the album is finally here.
To ensure I hadn’t lost my sense of humour completely, I’ve repeatedly listened to Andy and His Grandmother, an album of comedy from Andy Kaufman, deceased American entertainer, actor and performance artist. I’d been really looking forward to hearing it, because Kaufman’s reputation as a funny man is written in large letters through pop culture and this is, after all, PopMatters. But unfortunately for me, this album falls flat.
?If people buy a record called Andy and His Grandmother, they think, ?Oh wow, Andy Kaufman made a record with his grandmother. This must be hilarious.? And they show a picture of me and my grandmother on the cover? And then they put it on, and it?s just a regular conversation. And people are gonna say, ?What? What is this?? But I like to do that to people, ya know.
The subject of faking his death comes up late on Andy Kaufman’s “Andy and His Grandmother,” the comic legend’s posthumous first album. It happens during a phone conversation between Kaufman and an associate, probably his frequent coconspirator Bob Zmuda, about an album of real-life conversations Kaufman wanted to make. A former girlfriend angrily demands Kaufman hand over the tapes that feature her, but Kaufman refuses, while recording the conversation.