Thursday, August 17, 2006

Andy Kaufman - Transcendental Meditation


"I'm going to ask the Maharishi for permission to use levitation at the Huntington Show" he told an incredulous Bob Zmuda upon his departure.

But AK would never get to fly with the Yogis. Turns out that one of the preconditions to liftoff is a year of celibacy. Andy meditated religiously two times a day. He was a vegetarian and a teatotaler (except when he was Tony Clifton). But give up women for harmony, world peace, and a chance to fly? Fat chance.

Kaufman's Best Goof That Nobody Got: TM®

I'd heard about Transcendental Meditation® when I was a kid. My friend Carter's parents got divorced and, like many other divorcees in the early eighties, Carter's mom looked to eastern mystical movements for healing. All of a sudden she's wearing beads, she's doing watercolor, she's uncoiling her serpents.

 And then went up all the pictures of the Maharishi on the walls of Carter's house. She got heavy into TM® and that's when she really got creepy. I started hanging up on her when she'd pick up. Pretty soon I just avoided Carter's house altogether.

When I found out that Andy Kaufman was into TM® I was horrified. How could a genius like Kaufman be such a fool. I always thought that if I ever met Kaufman that we'd be fast friends. He'd see in me what I saw in him—an equal, a real genius—and we'd be inseparable. I'd be godfather to his kids, and he to mine. But was I terribly wrong? Did Kaufman really have more in common with Carter's mom? I couldn't accept it then I and I don't accept it now. Andy was too sharp to be hammed by such a donkey movement.

In fact, the TM® bit was Andy's most brilliant hijinx. The one no one but I ever caught on to. Zmuda didn't even get it, the jackass. It was all a big farce. The meditating, his affiliation with the TM® Center, his trip to Switzerland to learn to levitate—parody, all of it. It was Kaufman at his best.

Who knows, maybe nobody will ever get it. Maybe it will remain the one joke that Zmuda doesn't give away to the world.


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