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The see-through webmaster was honored to make the guest list for the finals of the 5th Annual Andy Kaufman Award at Caroline's on Broadway in New York City. We watched some amazing young comedians/performers that night. Reconnected with the wonderful Kaufman family. Met Carol Kane for the first time. Was once again unimpressed and annoyed by old George Shapiro and watched in horror (not really) as the show's host, a savagely drunken Tony Clifton, turned the evening into a profanity laced brawl. After slapping AK Award Executive Director, Al Parinello and arguing with Andy's brother, Michael Kaufman, Clifton was finally escorted from the club but only after his demand for payment was honored. "I want cash!! I don't take checks from Jews."
"You certainly got an Andy Kaufman show tonight," a breathless and somewhat perturbed Michael Kaufman said as we left Caroline's. He was right. This show was certainly worthy of that "Kaufmanesque" label people have been throwing around lately. Although Michael and Al were rather peeved at Bob Zmuda for taking it too far, what did they expect? (Wait a minute. What does Bob Zmuda have to do with any of this?) Apparently the level of provocative behavior on the part of Tony was not in the script agreed upon before the plane trip in. We saw it unraveling quickly and knew disaster was fast approaching as Tony slurped three cocktail glasses of Jack Daniels down his make-up wrapped face during (what seemed to be) his never ending performance. He was slurring and reeling by the time the big confrontation began. Many "civilians" in the audience screamed in protest at the abhorrent actions of our beloved slovenly shit-faced lounge lizard.
Oh, and there were six young white guys - three with guitars - using up every nano-second of their allotted 8 minutes to show how cutting edge they might be. The first three acts suffered through Tony's heckling and the show ran long due to Clifton's attempts to hijack the entire night. "Why the fuck would you want to see six unknown comedians when you can hear me sing and watch the lovely Madame Mystere strip down to nothing?" Tony had a point, Madame was one incredibly beautiful woman...
Special note about Andy's father, Stanley Kaufman: He's using one of those walkers on wheels now and with a wink and a sly grin informed us that it's awesome! "I get to board planes first, get seated at restaurants quickly and people just treat me great. You've got to get one of these things," he said. Stanley Kaufman as a later day Larry David. We laughed very hard and told him we would most definitely do that when it was age appropriate.
After the show, someone tipped us off that Tony was staying at the Crowne Plaza and since it was right across the street from Ms. Hirsch's comedy club, we walked over to to pay a visit. We found Clifton sitting in the bar at a table surrounded by several of his sycophants, to include the stunning dancer with the body to die for and the poor unfortunate mime who was on stage "performing" when Tony finally imploded. We praised him for a job well done and he thanked us in return. We have to give the man his props. This night was one of Tony's greatest nights ever, without a doubt. Bravo, Bob Zmuda, bravo!
On November 3, 2009, The Tony Clifton Show hijacked The Andy Kaufman Award Show like Somalian pirates pole axing a merchant marine vessel. Except this ship asked the pirates to board and play nice. They didn't. At some point in the night a winner was named (Blaine Kneece) and the legacy of performance bravery was once again Kaufmanized and bottled as another Extreme Public Performance Art of Merry Discomfort.