Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life is what you make of it (Andy Kaufman is waiting Papu)

In the early 80's, Andy appeared on the Tom Cottle show to do an interview. It was the only time Andy ever let his guard down and gave the TV world Andy as himself, without any strings attached. He talked about an event in his childhood that seemed to shape his psyche in a strange way. Cottle was looking for some insight into why Andy was the way he was, and it seems as though he got more than he bargained for with Andy's honest and sad response. Andy spoke of his Grandfather, Papu he called him. Andy's grandfather was his best friend when he was a boy. He did everything with him. He was the only 3-D person who understood him. One day, Andy asked his parents where his grandfather had gone. His parents told him he had gone on a trip. In reality, he had died and Andy's loving parents were afraid to tell Andy the truth, for fear of sending the boy into an early spiral of depression. Instead of going on with his daily routines of cartoons and chocolate, Andy would sit in front of the living room window, waiting for his grandfather to return. He never did, and Andy never returned from the fantasy, from the lie that made the truth easier to accept. No doubt his perceptions were warped and his concepts of the importance of real life were blurred by this event. Andy learned that real life didn't have to be real, it was all in your head. The phrase "life is what you make of it" certainly seems to take precedence in the life of Andy Kaufman.
He's still confusing people who fail to see his genius (give them time). He's still studied by people, struggling to figure him out. His enigmatic presence breathes new life into the self-imposed Kaufman myth, more and more with each coming year. And he's still being accused of being out there, somewhere, waiting for the right time to come back and fool us all, again, which he seems to be doing right about now.

Sam McAbee


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