Saturday, August 12, 2006

Seth Schultz, A telephone interview conducted by J. Brook on 12/5/01, Part 4 (last, but not the least...)


Is there anything you would have done differently with respect to Andy? Any regrets?

More and more, because you don't know when someone is going to leave this dimension, that they call death, I think if you only knew you had a limited time, I would probably have flown to California occassionally for a visit, just to hang again. But again, I was getting busy with other things in New York and running the club. But yeah, I would have wanted to have been more in his presence and sort of improv because he was a great improv teacher. He sold the scenes so well on the spur of the moment that you would play along. And it all started at Pips as a 16 year old waiter coming out with a glass of water on my head, the whole crowd going oooooohhhhhh. And he was great. Then he'd say, [angry Clifton voice] "Get outta here, you stupid idiot! You shouldn't be employed here!" That was great. An acting comedic genius. And Andy still teaches. You watch his work. He still teaches on all levels of commitment, innocence, playfulness, of love....I still have never seen someone who enjoyed being on stage with all their heart so much as he.

I can't believe it's been 16 or 17 years.

Yeah, I know, I know. Andy would have gotten so heavily into features. More and more, because he would have donned all the makeups from playing Christ to Abe Lincoln. Anything he wished to do, like a little boy. And more and more. Possibly, an Academy Award winning actor....

I can see him having a lot more dimensions than even Jim Carrey.

Oh, yeah... Andy to me was always far more talented than Jim Carrey, and Jim Carrey is a very talented fellow. I haven't seen work yet where Jim's childlike innocence has come through like Andy's did. Those wide blue eyes. Andy would almost remind you of the innocence of a three year old boy on Christmas. I don't see that in Jim. I see a nice guy, but ....again, that golden loving family just so nutured [Andy]. And I think he held onto childhood right to the end. He refused to let that part go.

Some people theorize, and Bill Zehme seems to suggest this in his book, that Andy retained that innocence when his grandfather died and when his brother Michael was born. It kind of froze him up...

Andy never shared that much about his childhood with me. It was more in-the-moment things of mischief...what could we do tonight, where do you want to go, do you want to hit the diner, want to go to Coney Island? He was not sharing much with the childhood.

I've read his father didn't always have a lot of patience, but was very supportive, nevertheless.

Beaming love. And you can see [that] in the footage [of The Real Andy Kaufman] where Michael is singing. You can truly see Andy beaming. Seeing his brother perform and how wonderful he was.

Yes, he was, but I couldn't figure out whether Andy was beaming because "I'm proud of my brother...he's doing a good job," or if he was thinking, " Hahaha, you're going to see what it's like to bomb on stage!"

No....I really think he was proud of his brother. Again, they loved each other tremendously. I remember seeing Michael and Andy together once at the Improv. Just them joshing and kidding. I remember saying to myself, "God, these guys are like the Jewish Bobby and John Kennedy." You know what I mean? You know, that inner humor. If I had to do a Jewish version of the Kennedy's, I would have Michael as Bobby and Andy as John.

Does Michael have a propensity for comedy? He didn't seem to go into any of that.

I heard that Michael did some. When Tony Clifton was needed at times, it was Michael in the makeup.

But I wondered if he ever had his own aspirations, or if it was more like Andy saying "Ah, come'd be a hoot....try it out."

Well, I don't ever remember Michael doing stand-up, but then my focus was always Andy. It was like a young karate student being in the presence of Bruce Lee. You know, your mouth would just be open all the time. You knew you were in the presence of a comedic master. Very humbling for me, because I thought by 16 I'd seen it all. I've seen Rodney, Joan Rivers, David Brenner, George Carlin, and all the guys. And all of sudden here comes Andy going, [Foreign Man voice] " Hello, my name is Andy." Latka....a nut, sure, but loving.

Andy has got his following. There is still so much to learn from him.

What he did I don't think can ever be done in the same way. But you know, even fooling the best actors in the business, when they say to each other, "Is he serious? Is he kidding? Is he mad?" You have these heavy weight actors going, "Is he serious?" And you know....God, what full committment. What full commitment to mischief. If you could have been there on those nights of him running around Coney Island...hysterical! Plus, this rollercoaster, hurt the body, man. It was rough! And Andy says, "You want to go again" like six or seven times in a row. I'd say, "Why not, I'm nuts!"

I think I'd be intimidated that Andy would attract attention to me. And so if you're not willing to go with the show, man, I fear I'd be damn embarrassed to hang with him.

Oh, he was so bold and so fun. It was just a great experience. It was almost like a moving theatre company. The streets of Manhattan were just a stage to him. At a moments notice, he could throw an improv at someone, be the Foreign Man, and confuse someone and say, "Hellooo....I'm look for the Empire State Builting...." And you say, "Excuse me, huh? I think that's on 34th street and..." [Andy's] friends giggling all about. I've never anyone else as bold as him. Ever.


Totally. He was truly a free man.

Well, I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to CAKS.

Sure. Well, I guess we should end this the way Andy would want. Let's sing "Friendly, Friendly World". [Brightly singing] "In this friendly, friendly world... " I mean that was the guy. Look how he ends the show. Like a loving third grader singing to the students.

His dad must have been like " I love you son, but God, this right?"

[Seth continues to sing]"...wander along with you....with the sky so full of stars..."


Forgetaboutit!!!! There will never be another soul like that in existance! Singing that with all of his heart. It's like you had tears of joy in your eyes [thinking] "What a soul this is!" Man, keep spreading the word. It's good luck.


Seth Schultz is a director, screenplay writer, and physical comedian/actor. He's played many acting roles including a part in the first Men in Black movie and is currently developing a film, Son of Psycho, where he plays the illegitimate son of Norman Bates in a wild comedy/Walter Mitty musical nightmare where he doesn't hurt anyone in real life, but on the inside, he's a mixture of Jack Jones, over-the-top Bruce Lee recreations, Jesus Christ, and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Seth may be contacted at

The Real Andy Kaufman is currently available in DVD. You can get a copy at, Barnes and Noble, and a host of other places. I understand VHS copies are still floating around as well..

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