to Lost in Cyberspace
© 1999 by
It's tough to be a comedian, but not so tough
to be a dead comedian,
gets to live fast, die eerily, and leave a nice biopic.
Take Andy Kaufman, please. That Hollywood's hottest living
comedian, Jim Carrey, is in line to play its hottest dead one,
Andy Kaufman, points up one of those comic ironies: Comedic genius
is often measured in inverse proportion to material success -- the
more misunderstood, persecuted or prosecuted, the better.
Kaufman is most
remembered for playing the inalienable
Latka on the 1980s sitcom "Taxi." But he also did one of the first
impersonations, spent too many years as an "intergender wrestler,"
lipsynched the theme song to "Mighty Mouse" on the first "Saturday
Live." Long before there was a Jerry Springer, Kaufman provoked
on TV shows, including "Fridays" and "David Letterman."
Slapstick comedian Jim Carrey portrays
Kaufman in the upcoming "Man on the Moon," which
is being directed by Milos
Forman, who won an Oscar for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,"
by Danny DeVito, who worked with Kaufman in "Taxi" and Forman in
Nest." In addition to Carrey as Kaufman, DeVito plays
Kaufman's manager, George Shapiro, and Courtney Love plays his
Lynne Margulies. Paul Giamatti plays Kaufman's best friend and
Bob Zmuda, while according to the credits, at least, archetypal
Vegas lounge singer Tony Clifton plays
Kaufman Home Page" is a clearinghouse of information on all things
Kaufman. In addition to
news about the movie, you can order copies of "Lost in the
Bill Zehme's book on Kaufman, and another book by Kaufman's friend
Zmuda titled "Andy Kaufman Revealed -- Best Friend Tells All." A section of the Web site called "The Kaufman
has Kaufmanesque movie buzz such as that Tony Clifton was
at this year's Emmy Awards, and actress Melanie Vesey, who plays
sister in the movie, was accidentally shot in the leg by an
York City cop.
Kaufman may be the only dead comedian in
but he's hardly the only one on the Web. The archetypal comedic
is Lenny Bruce, and one of the better archives of Lenny materials
is at "Lenny
In addition to sound clips and links to Lenny Bruce books, records
tapes, the site has collected some great essays and thoughts on
the likes of Ralph J. Gleason, Paul Krassner, Bob Dylan, Mort
Allen, George Carlin, Dick Gregory, Eric Bogosain and Frank Zappa.
There's also a section on "The Trials of
Bruce" about his arrests for alleged obscenity in his nightclub
came to obsess him at the end of his truncated life. In 1966,
at age 42 in his home in the Hollywood Hills, from, as Phil
it, "an overdose of police."
The poster boy for comic overdosing is John
and the "Ultimate John Belushi
is at <www.belushi.com>.
is heavy on toga pictures from "Animal House" and audio and
"SNL" appearances and other movies, especially the "Blues
pictures of Belushi's grave at Martha's Vineyard, where he was
1982 at age 33, after a heroin overdose in Hollywood.
fits into a sub-genre of dead comedians, that being dead fat
Web sites for these include "John
Candy's Sound Gallery" <journey.simplenet.com/candy>;
"Chris Farley Memorial
and "Official Sam Kinison
Kaufman, Belushi and most of the
comedians also belong to another sub-genre of dead comedians,
dead "Saturday Night Live" alums. "The
Dead Comedians Society" <www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Studio/2487>
tribute pages to many of them, including Gilda Radner, who died
ovarian cancer in 1989,
and Phil Hartman, shot to death last year by his wife, who then
Of course, not all comedians die young, and
some comedic geniuses break the mold, others make them. Take
The Friar's Club borscht belter died last year at age 91. He was
King of the One-Liner, and a bunch of his lines are online at "Henny
Categorized into such subjects as airline
doctor jokes, drunk jokes, Jewish jokes and of course Polish
dated gags point up another comic irony: Comedy once considered
and vulgar is now accepted, while comedy that was once accepted
considered offensive and vulgar. Take this Henny Youngman joke:
fell on Italy. It slid off."
copyright 1999 by H.B.
all rights reserved.
to Lost in Cyberspace