Tag Archives: David Luna

The Greatest Debate with James Adomian & Anthony Atamanuik

Over the phone I heard two voices I had gotten to know quite well through a series of political inspired debates on Youtube, now set on touring the nation in an ultimate display of our polarized popular ideologies and universal absurdity. Within the first few seconds, I was hooked. And by the end of it I felt the surge of political revolution, and the increasing momentum of the triumphantly original and iconic Trump vs. Bernie 2016 Debate Tour. If soon there is to be a sibling to Mt Rushmore constructed in out time, may the faces of Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, James Adomian, and Anthony Atamanuik loom over the forests of the American Midwest.

How did the the first debate come about?

Anthony Atamanuik: I was doing Trump in New York, and I knew James had been doing Bernie for a while. We’d been friends for years, and we’d always done impressions and characters around each other in New York and LA. Actually, James texted me one day and said, “Hey, man, we should try to do this together.” It ended up that we had a good synthesis of a show we could do it at, Whiplash. From there it sort of snowballed because there was a lot of interest.

James Adomian: [Anthony] had the great idea to film the show at Whiplash and have [Anthony Sneed] filming it. It was a pretty popular video on YouTube and from there people were like, “We want to see the whole hour!” or “When are you gonna put it on TV?” So we’re doing what we can, which is a big tour.

I love how you guys are marketing it. I’ve been following closely and a lot of my friends have been as well. I know you guys are going to D.C. Where else are you excited be touring?

JA: Well, we’re very excited to be doing New Hampshire. We’re doing two different cities right before the primary, and we’re going to be right there at the New Hampshire primary.

AA: In the heart of it, right where it all happens, in Manchester.

JA: I think there’s a good chance both Trump and Bernie will win their primaries that night. And that will be perfect.

AA: That will prove that we can finally get our plan of starting the Psychic Friends Network back up and running.

How long have the two of you known each other?

AA: 2008?

JA: Something like that, yeah. It’s been eight years.

AA: Yeah, eight years. Both Obama terms.

How did you meet—just gigging in similar places?

JA: The Del Close Marathon happens at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York every summer, and they have all the craziest, funniest shows late at night. I think we met at a 2 a.m. show called Match Game 76.  

AA: He was Orson Welles, and I was a young John McCain who was just freed from Vietnam.

Adomian Texting

Continue reading The Greatest Debate with James Adomian & Anthony Atamanuik

More Surreal: An Interview with Rich Fulcher

I lack an eidetic memory, so in order transcribe these phone call interviews I must record them through an app on my Apple product. My laughter was present throughout 80% of the conversation, because this man understands absurdity. The fact that the recording was audible despite my perpetual cackles and sniggers is nothing short of a miracle. In fact, the man I inter- viewed is a miracle. You probably know him from British television or from all the times your
keys and wallet go missing.

FulcherPortrait

What is your earliest memory?

Oh, God. I remember somehow being in trouble, and I was told to go in my crib, or playpen (is that was they call it)? Apparently, I rode my tricycle off the base where we had just moved because I was so excited that it was flat, so I went all the way to the main gate, and security picked me up and they drove me back. We were moving at the time, so my parents sort of lost track of me, but I just kept going on my trike, and I think I was relegated to my room for a while.

So you were a military brat?

Air Force brat, yeah. Get it straight.

Did you have to make friends over and over? What was that like?

A lot of entertainers are military brats because they have to adjust. You either, like, withdraw into a shell, get beat up or become a bully, or you try and adjust as quickly as you can. I always felt sick to my stomach whenever I went to a new school, and I would try to be a bit goofy. It would depend on the class, but I would either be a class clown or a, you know, a goofball. You know. You know how it is. I think the same thing happened with Louis Anderson.

[Laughs] No, I don’t know, I just said that randomly. Jim Morrison was a military brat.

Do you feel any sort of extra patriotism? Do you feel connected to the structure of our country because of your upbringing? Or –

The structure?

[Laughs]

I looove the structure of the US. It’s sooo well put together.

I mean more like the system. Do you care about elections and politicians?

You know, actually, I’m really into politics. A lot of it is just because I like to hear arguing. I love good arguments and debates, so I’ll watch like MSNBC and stuff all the time. It’s sort of like sports for me. But as far as being extra patriotic, I used to be more like that and then I just sort of became a little less… crazy.

When you go overseas you realize the good things and the not so good things about the U.S.

What are some of the not-so-good things that you’ve realized?

Well, it’s still a really young country, so it’s still a little uptight. It’s still a little up its own bum. It’s a bit puritanical. Anything sexual comes out in a weird way because it’s sort of repressed, so whenever you repress it in one way it comes out, like, bestiality. It’s not just treated as a normal thing. Like a country that’s been around for a thousand years has a different sort of attitude about stuff like that. But the good thing about the U.S. is it’s always changing and it’s always innovating, so you can never be bored.

If you want to be a ghost, you be a ghost.
Put yourself on the web.
If you want to do porno, you can.

Of course. Do you have any religious beliefs?

Do I? Not really. I think you die and dissolve somewhere.

Like oblivion or an eternal nothingness?

I think you go into like a big bucket of borscht, and everybody is cooked in it, and then it’s periodically poured onto the Earth, mostly through Russia and parts of Lithuania. No, I’m not even going, “Just in case, I’ll believe.” It’s like I’ve sort of lost that energy. Like “Ugh. I don’t see much proof of this.”

Continue reading More Surreal: An Interview with Rich Fulcher

Not Some People: an interview with Nick Vatterott

Some people aren’t easy to get along with or worth knowing. Some people are complete dullards, trudg- ing through life without any sense of ambition or creative ability. Some people are just unpleasant and boring as all hell. The person I spoke to over the phone on October 4th, 2014 is not some people. He is kind, he is smart, he is important. He is…

VatterotPortrait

What is your earliest memory?

I must have been three years old. I think it was the first time I ever saw snow or something like that, and I ran outside in my pajamas and started running in the snow.

That’s actually really delightful. Would you say that reflects your day-to-day character? Are you joyful all the time, running into new situations with excitement?

I think I’m always interested in running into the snow. I’m always interested in running into whatever. “What is this thing over here? What is this? Let’s try this out.” And a lot of the times I’m not always prepared for it. I’m just in my pajamas, and I probably should have done more homework.

When you were 10 years old, what did you see yourself doing as an adult?

Having a beard. I didn’t really know. I still cannot grow one, so that’s never gonna happen. I think I wanted to be a Nintendo programmer at that point and a professional basketball player shortly after that. In fifth grade I had to fill out a “what do you want to be when you grow up?” [questionnaire], and I wrote on this thing, “stand-up comedian”. Years after I went away from that, and then eventually came back to it. But I always loved comedy. I didn’t understand why people weren’t watching comedy all the time.

What got you started with Second City and doing improv in general?

The first real comedy thing I did was an improv group in college. A buddy of mine was approached to start an improv group at the University of Missouri. He asked me to be a part of it, and then I wrote a humor column for the newspaper at that time. Those were the only two things I wasn’t doing terribly at the university. Second City had come through our town, and I had tried an amateur stand-up contest at the local comedy club, and I had visited Chicago, and I was like, “I gotta get out of college. I gotta do something. Let me just go to Chicago and just try this, see what happens and then take it from there, regardless of what happens.”

People had always been like, “You should do stand-up.” Even at parties, they would be like, “Oh, you’re like a funny guy. You’re like, really funny. You should do something with that.” And I’m like,  “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. I should also be Michael Jordan too, right?” And they’re like, “NO!” [laughs maniacally]

How often do you write?

When I moved to Chicago I’d go up and do five minutes, and I realized that a lot of the same people were there the following week. This is how I know all those guys: Hannibal [Buress], and Kumail [Nanjiani], and Pete Holmes, and [Kyle] Kinane, and a million other people that are just super awesome and influential. I felt I couldn’t do the same material in front of all those guys as I just did the week before. You’ve got to know your audience. If your audience knows your material, there’s nothing in it for them. And I’m talking about The Lion’s Den, the one specific show every Monday night. I felt I could use every other open mic and every other show the rest of the week to work on material, but for that Monday night show I tried to do five new minutes every week. And I did that for years.

Then I got hired on a cruise ship and I was gone for four months, so for the first time since I started comedy I didn’t write five new minutes every week because I didn’t have an outlet to perform them. I started moving and traveling more, and then I started focusing my writing on more scripts, sketches and working on various other projects. Some weeks are just more than others, how motivated can you get that particular week. But I feel rhythm is like the biggest thing. It was because I was in a rhythm of writing five new minutes every week, that’s why that happened. Once you break that rhythm, it’s really hard to get that momentum going again.

WebVatterott

In 2011 you won the Andy Kaufman Award. It’s my understanding that those who win the award get to spend five nights with Andy at his mansion in Bavaria, where he has been living in secret for all these years. What was that like?

It’s great. You get to go to Bavaria, but you never get to actually meet Andy. He’s always wearing a completely full blue body suit, and he’s generally underwater the whole time. I had dinner with him as he sat in the aquarium at the far end of the table. We had lunch while he was at the bottom of the swimming pool—he’s got some sort of oxygen device.

Do you think he’s actually alive still? Did you read about Bob Zmuda and his new book?

It’s more fun to believe that he is. It’s more fun to believe in Santa Claus than to not. If he’s alive, I think this is the year that he reveals himself and he comes out and he tells everybody that he was Bob Zmuda the whole time.

Let’s transition to some sports talk.

Finally!

How do you think ISIS will do over these next few months, and how will they affect the other global players?

I get that they’re in a building year, this year. They’re in a transition year. I think they’re more into—I don’t know. They don’t have their priorities correct, you know? To be perfectly honest, their uniforms are garbage. They’re not very good for running around in and kicking and throwing and jumping and running. They’re very restraining. They’re gonna get caught on a lot of things, and I just think they really need to rethink their entire uniform if they want to have a chance to get any sort of athletic achievement.

Do you think there will ever be an event that ushers in an era of peace or even a gradual transition to global tranquility, or will we always be hungry for war?

It’s funny how like ISIS is so bad, but al-Qaeda is against them. We are actually on the same side with al-Qaeda, as far as our perception of ISIS goes. Hitler united a lot of the world just because people were united against him. Sadly, it’s almost like there needs to be some sort of terrible thing that the world that unites against. I think alien invasion is gonna do it. I think aliens are gonna invade, and finally we’ll get together with everybody else and be like, “We gotta beat these aliens. Oil? That doesn’t matter, the aliens drank it all, so now we have nothing to fight about.” We unite against the aliens, and then all the leaders unite and say, “It’s all peace and we have ice cream forever.”

Do you have any major aspirations unrelated to comedy or entertainment?

I would like to do something good. Comedy is a constant set of frustrations. If you’re not happy when you’re poor and at an open mic, then you’re not gonna be happy when you’re rich and doing arenas. That is sort of like the number one lesson. Every time you get to a next tier, it’s just a new set of frustrations. At an open mic you just wish you could do shows. As soon as you start doing shows, then you’re like, “Well, this is frustrating. I’m not really getting paid to do it.” And then you start getting paid to do a club: “Yeah, this is frustrating, I’m not really headlining. I wish I was headlining.” Then you start headlining and then you’re like, “Well, this is frustrating, the club keeps telling me that I’m not a draw the whole time, and they won’t book me back because I’m not a draw.” And then you’re finally a draw, and then you’re like, “Well, now people just keep bugging me on the fucking street. They yell my catchphrase at me the whole time I do my show.”

In one year I saw Bill Cosby and Dave Chappelle. I saw them within a month of each other, and they both got heckled. It’s like, “Wow, it never ends.” I think at one point, you’re just like, “I should go to Africa and dig wells. I should try to fix the homeless situation in at least one city and give people the medicine they need.” I think I have an odd-wired brain, and if it was wired one way different, I’d be the homeless guy trying to play cards with pigeons on the corner. There’s a pill that guy can take that will make him think normal again. To me I almost feel like that’s more rewarding than the low points of comedy.

Also: Professional space-jumper. If I could just jump from space into Earth and get paid for that some how, that could definitely be dope.

If money were no limitation, what would you be doing right now? I would just guess space-jumping.

Space-jumping, yeah. I wanna get paid for that. I would only do it if I get paid, you know?

I’d probably spend more time with my family, as lame is that sounds. I’d fly them out more; I’d fly home more often. It’s unfortunate that money is a factor to that.

I think rocket-pack around Tokyo. I would love to build a giant Godzilla, and then I’d love to rocket-pack defeat him and then just be a hero. I think more outlandish, month-long pranks where no one really knows what happened. More alien sightings, Bigfoot sightings. I just want to mess with everybody’s minds. I think that would be very entertaining.

I wanna save homeless people. I want to help out those who are unfortunate. And those that are fortunate, I want to take down. With pranks.

What things in life give you the most pleasure?

Sadly, comedy.

Good.

I’m a sucker for people being good to each other. Like, any video where strangers are good to each other, I’ll sort of get tiny choked up, you know? I’ve just lost so much faith in humanity that when I see it, it’s just a great reminder.

Pinball is my huge thing right now. I’m a pinball addict. There’s a Walking Dead and Great Lebowski pinball machine coming out soon that I’m super excited about. I don’t know if anybody is as excited about it as I am, and I don’t have a lot of people I can talk to about it. There’s something about pinball that just fits with my personality. People are often like, “But you don’t have any control over it.” No, you’re wrong. It’s sort of like chaotic darts. It’s chaos, but you can sort of control the chaos a little bit. You have some say in the chaos. At the end of the day, there are just things that are beyond your control, and it’s just how you adapt. Part of me just loves the idea that everything is just ridiculous and crazy and completely bonkers, and you have some control over it, and, Jesus, when three multi-balls are going on, it’s just bonkers-town.

WebYar1

What is your deepest fear?

My deepest fear is that I didn’t utilize my time for the things that are most important. While I feel that I’m generally, consistently conscious of that and aware of my use of time, I don’t wanna look back and be like, “That was an unimportant thing.” I don’t want to look back and be like, “I spent too much time on Twitter. All that time on Twitter was a phone call I could have made to an old friend. Time I could have used to spend with my loved ones, with my family.”

With the internet you can now have more control of your career by “gaining a following” and all that stuff. I feel like we as comedians, we do a lot of things that we feel are necessary or they’re part of the “do everything we can to make this possible career work.” I feel like a lot of the things that we feel are necessary are actually a distraction. Sometimes I sit there and go, “If I took all the time I’ve spent on writing blogs and podcasts and Twitter and my web page and all that stuff, never spent one second on any of that stuff, how many screenplays would I have done by now?” It’s hard to step back and look at Twitter and be like, “I did a real good Twitter feed.” Even if I don’t sell it, I think I’d have more sense of accomplishment of writing something that’s meaningful, that I think is good work.

You have been given one week left to live. What do you do with your time?

I think I’d take everybody that I want to spend time with on my last week, and we—I think we’d all just jump from space together. I’ve sort of lucked out. When I was working on the cruise ship for Second City—I loved that—I lucked out. I got to go see Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Greece and Rome. I got to see all that stuff. I’m so lucky to have done that. So as far as traveling goes, I feel like I just want to find that one cool place. Maybe we all just go to Chicago, and drink and have fun. I don’t really want an itinerary. I just want to hang out. I do want there to be pinball machines everywhere. I just want to drink and play pinball and hang out with people. I think that’s probably what it would be; I would go to Chicago, I’d try to do shows every night, I’d try to get my favorite performers to play with me, and I think we’d just drink and play pinball the whole time. I’m trying to think of that last moment. I think walking into the lake…see how far I can walk into Lake Michigan. “Goodbye, everyone! I’m going to Canada by way of Lake Michigan!”

Nick Vatterott’s album For Amusement Only is now available on Comedy Central Records. You can learn more about Nick by visiting his website and following him on Twitter @NickVatterott

Interview conducted by David Luna
Artwork by Kevin Cole, David Luna, Yarissa Luna

Continue reading Not Some People: an interview with Nick Vatterott

Performing for an Audience That Doesn’t Know They’re Watching – An Interview with Bob Pagani

Last month we published an article detailing how Andy Kaufman faked his death. Shortly after this we received a message from Bob Pagani, co-creator of The Slycraft Hour and the man who witnessed meeting between Alan Abel and Andy Kaufman. He told us that not only had he witnessed it, but he arranged it. We got him on the phone for an interview and he dished on hoaxing the media, his relationship with Andy Kaufman, and that fateful meeting.

You’re a—would the term be “professional media hoaxer?”

I don’t know about the professional part. That implies money right? I’ve done a lot of it, yeah, over the last bunch of years, the last thirty years or so… or more actually. From when I first met Alan Abel and a thing or two I did when I was younger.

How did you become a hoaxer, and when did you realize you had a knack for messing with people?

When I was a kid, I grew up in the Bronx and I went to Catholic school. In Catholic school everything was “this is this” and “that’s that” and “thou shalt and thou shalt not.” They kind of teach you to live in a Leave it Beaver world. It’s all very “exactly how it should be.”

But my dad was very cynical about stuff. He fixed appliances for Westinghouse; he was the guy who would come in if your washing machine broke. He used to take me to work with him and people would always go, “Oh, you’re showing your little boy what line of work to go into?” and he would say, “No, I’m showing him what line of work not to go into.” He was very cynical about big corporations long before most people were and would tell me things that completely contradicted what I was learning in school. Over time you come to realize he’s more right than they are.

Continue reading Performing for an Audience That Doesn’t Know They’re Watching – An Interview with Bob Pagani

Great Deals on The Pope’s Visit from Craigslist

In light of Pope Francis’ upcoming US Tour, many have been scalping tickets on to events on Craigslist. We at The Annual have taken the time to find the best postings to help you save time and money.

Pope Francis Tickets And A Free Pass To Heaven – $125,000

My priest recently gave my family three tickets to see Pope Francis and told me that if I met His Holiness I would gain admittance into heaven. This was said in confidence during my last confession. Truth be told, I’ve been on a real Billy Joel kick and I feel confident saying I’d like to live a long life and burn in hell for it. So I’m selling these tickets and Father Ted’s word that you’ll get into heaven upon spending time in the presence of His Holiness.

Pope Francis to Perform D.C.

One ticket, front pew: $275. Potential for meet-and-greet. For you or the diehard Catholic in your life. SmarTrip card with $5 thrown in.

Cheap POPE TICKETS

Had plans to see Pope with my son to get the demons out, but he was successfully exorcised by Presbyterians so we’re cancelling and going to Universal Studios. Got two tix, 40 bucks each.

Pope Fan Club Meeting

The DC Chapter of the Group of the Piously Devoted (GPD) will be meeting prior to Pope Francis’ visit to the city. All interested members must present $100 for a penance and 40 “Hail Marys” at the door. Only the righteous may join us for fan-girling session along His Holiness’ Pope Mobile route.

Reasonable Priced Pope Tickets for Sinners and Losers

Protesting Pope not worth all the gay wedding abominations going on that day. Need $$ back to support our godly hatred if everyone. $35 each, must buy all 40. -WBC

Kiss the pope – $2500

When Amal and I got married in Venice, the ceremony was officiated by Pope Francis. This is why we chose not to let the press in on our big day. At one point during the ceremony His Holiness leaned over to me and whispered ever so softly “If I could kiss a man, it would be you George Clooney.” He then sent me a ticket to his upcoming United States tour, and while the thought of kissing Pope Francis excites me, I couldn’t be the one to do it. Proceeds from this Craigslist posting will go towards UNICEF

FREE POPE TICKETS

Had a premonition that something very bad is going to happen in Philadelphia that day and I don’t want to be there. Tickets are free.

Tickets to Pope Francis Show

Girlfriend wanted to see the Dalai Lama, got these instead by accident. If you like Pope hmu. Show includes special guest appearance – could it be Jesus?? $20 each. Take it or leave it.

Want 2 make a buck

Sell bottled water with me for $7 in Brookland metro station
80/20 split

Wear comfortable clothes
No assholes

Pope Gig in DC Livestream

Don’t want to make the trip all the way down to DC for the Pope, but still want to be blessed? Livestream from my phone with added commentary. $40 for the link.

Make Out with Me in a Pope Hat – $25 or Best offer

I am a DDF SWF and am looking to get my modest freak on while wearing a pope hat. For an extra $50 I will dress my car up to look like the popemobile and we can make out there.

Kevin Cole, Taylor GoebelDavid LunaRobert MartinEmily Perper

Robert Martin would like to recommend
you consider investing in unlicensed Pope merchandise.

I TRUSTED YOU – The Incredible True Story of The Return Of Andy Kaufman

Forty years ago, during the premiere telecast of what is now the world’s longest-running sketch show, the nation was introduced to a strange man named Andy Kaufman. Perched upon the Saturday Night Live stage, armed with nothing but a small phonograph, Kaufman stood in silence as the theme to Mighty Mouse played. The audience watched in a haze of confusion. It wasn’t until Andy burst to life, lip-syncing, “Here I come to save the day!” and then snapping back into a dumbfounded and seemingly frightened tableau, that the something clicked with the audience. It’s a routine that’s funnier live than it is on paper. If that enrages you set fire to a bookstore.

Kaufman became known as a prankster who took on multiple personas to create some of the most groundbreaking bits of performance art. It began with a lovable character known to Taxi fans as Latka, but originated as “The Foreign Man.” He hailed from Caspiar, a lost island in the Caspian Sea. He spoke in broken English and had a love for bad jokes (“Take my wife, please, take her!”) and impressions, only one of which was good. This is the same character Kaufman utilized during his SNL debut; the producers of Taxi wrote him into the sitcom as the beloved Latka Graves.

The Foreign Man, Kaufman’s most sincere character, captured America’s heart. He did not know much, and in many cases he did not say much, but this created an undeniable innocence about the character. Andy performed this role with such frequency that some presumed it was his real persona.

Andy

Andy craved a reaction, not approval, from his audience. In the early ’80s he proclaimed himself “the Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World” and took to the airwaves to challenge women to wrestle him on television. Months of sexist tirades followed, insinuating women were too weak to defeat him. It was intentional antagonism, and it worked—since his childhood obsession with professional wrestling, Kaufman wanted to play the bad guy. During this time, Andy performed as a guest on various talk shows, rousing women in the crowd to come onstage and wrestle him. To his credit, he was undefeated. The amount of hate mail his appearances brought outnumbered the fan mail these programs typically received. All of this escalated when Jerry “The King” Lawler challenged Kaufman to come down to Memphis and prove his worth as a wrestler by him on. Andy accepted gleefully—he and Lawler were in on it from the beginning.

Kaufman rode in as a Hollywood hotshot, puffing out his chest and threatening to sue anyone who came near him. He bought ad time before the big match on Memphis television, providing locals with instructions on how to use soap and toilet paper. By the time he arrived in the ring, he was universally detested by the locals. He was scum. Before he could prove his strength in the ring against a woman, in came Lawler who knocked Kaufman out with a piledriver. Kaufman spent the next months in a brace, claiming that he sustained a broken neck. Later, the pair bickered on Late Night with David Letterman; eventually, Lawler insisted the whole thing was set up.

Perhaps Kaufman’s most notorious creation was the anarchic Tony Clifton. There are multiple versions of the Clifton Creation myth, but the most notable is the one told by Kaufman and Bob Zmuda, Kaufman’s writing partner: Early in his career, long before SNL, Andy made a pilgrimage to Las Vegas to see Elvis perform and eventually jump out of a closet to meet him as he exited the venue. During his stay he came across a low-grade lounge act in the form of Tony Clifton and was quite taken with the performer’s crass attitude and poor singing. Andy and Zmuda would recreate Tony Clifton for the stage that is until they began to receive threats from “the real Tony Clifton.” From that point on, Andy began booking acts for Clifton, claiming that “he owed him one.” Club bookers thought they were getting a deal on Andy Kaufman. He would show up as Clifton and refuse to break character for the entire night. There was no fooling the crowd—this was another put-on orchestrated by Kaufman. That is until one night when Clifton took the stage only to be interrupted mid-song by Andy, banging on the bongos and singing in gibberish. From there, all bets were off. Reportedly, Clifton has been performed by Kaufman, Zmuda and eventually Jim Carrey. To this day, Zmuda maintains the Tony Clifton currently performing is the real deal.

As Andy performed Latka on Taxi, he had it written into his contract that Clifton would have to make a guest appearance once a season. Figuring that Clifton was Andy, producers allowed it. What followed was one unfilmed guest spot, as Clifton showed up to the shoot drunk, accompanied by escorts. He was belligerent and disrespectful and forcibly removed from the set. But this was Tony Clifton in essence: a loudmouthed Vegas singer with no concern for his audience. Before performances he would request all audience members extinguish their cigarettes so as not to harm his voice—then out he walked, smoking a cigar. He’d sing a number or two and then transition into insulting everybody, spitting in the faces of patrons. He was big shot with no time for small timers, but he was the act people loved to hate.

TonyClifton

Unfortunately, Andy and his characters came to an untimely end in 1984 when he died from lung cancer. Many aficionados think Kaufman’s death was his greatest role yet. He’d tricked the world with wrestling injuries and sociopathic alter egos—what better ploy than to live in secrecy while others mourned his passing? Only a year after his death, Tony Clifton went on to perform again and still does to this day. In fact, prior to Kaufman’s death, Andy and Zmuda had set to work on a screenplay for The Tony Clifton Story. In the script, Clifton would die partway through filming—his death due to the same cancer that killed Kaufman and in the film he would pass away in the exact same hospital. After that he would be replaced by Andy Kaufman, performing Clifton for the remainder of the movie. It may be a striking coincidence to some, but others, including Zmuda, insist that it all points to Andy’s plan.

In 1981, Kaufman met professional hoaxer Alan Abel; Abel finagled his own obituary into the New York Times, previously impossible for the living. Bob Pagani, a television producer, was privy to the meeting and noted Kaufman was extremely interested in Abel’s famed death hoax. Abel shared everything. Many in the Kaufman-lifer camp think this is the smoking gun—not only did Kaufman fake his death, but that he knew how and who he needed to do it.

Here at The Annual we’re prepared to print the truth: Like it or not, Kaufman faked his death and is still around today, appearing most recently on SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special (not during the In Memoriam segment, though he was included there as well). Kaufman performed that night for about four minutes as an artist who has come to be known as Kanye West.

Kanye West was “born” on June 8, 1977. SNL was between seasons, and Kaufman was looking for a project to keep him busy, so he registered a birth certificate for “Kanye Omar West.” According to Zmuda, Kaufman had no idea what he was going to do with the birth certificate, but he wanted to plant the seeds of “the ultimate foreign man.”

Before people decry this as blackface gone too far, it should be noted that it’s much more complex than that. Shortly after contacting Alan Abel, Kaufman got in touch with John Howard Griffin, investigative journalist and author of the book Black Like Me, to learn how he had had his skin professionally darkened by a doctor. Kaufman set out to see if such a transition could become permanent. It is believed that for the 12 years following his “death” Kaufman underwent extensive surgeries while living in secrecy in Puerto Rico. Not once did he perform as Tony Clifton; rather, he spent those years working in seclusion, perfecting the character, from his humble beginnings (writing a rap entitled “Green Eggs and Ham”) to spending a year in Nanjing, China as an exchange student. In 1996, Kanye, as performed by Andy Kaufman, was ready to hit the music scene. It may seem far-fetched, but we paid a police sketch artist to approximate what Andy Kaufman would look like today following a series of intricate black market surgeries. Rest assured, Kaufye walks among us.

One of Kaufye’s most acclaimed songs, Jesus Walks, off the album College Dropout, is a fitting retelling of Kaufman’s own story. That is, a man dies, only to come back more powerful and relevant than ever before. Though some did not understand the initial parallel, Kaufye began his recent Yeezus campaign to hammer home that you can come back from the dead. While his music has gained both critical and commercial acceptance, the persona of Kanye West can be likened to the Inter-gender Wrestling Champ of years past.

Kaufye courted controversy. In 2005, Kaufye took to the stage of a Hurricane Katrina concert televised by NBC and stated, “George Bush [didn’t] care about black people.” While that statement may be entirely factual, Kaufye became known as a man who ruffles feathers and certainly isn’t afraid to upset the middle class whites who brought Bush into power or to bite the NBC hands that put him on TV. Years later, America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift would be on the verge of accepting an MTV Video Award when Kaufye stormed the stage like an upset toddler, proclaiming, “Beyoncé had the best music video of all time!” By this point the viewing public had had it with Kaufye; he showed the unwavering arrogance of Tony Clifton and the universal unlikability of the Intergender Wrestling Champ.

Artist's approximation of what Kaufman would look like today.
Artist’s approximation of what Kaufman would look like today.

After this, he laid low for a while—no high-profile freakouts, but low-profile tweets that would eventually go viral. “Sometimes I get emotional over fonts.” “I specifically ordered persian rugs with cherub imagery. What do I have to do to get a simple persian rug with cherub imagery uuuuugh.” This prompted further questions—who was Kaufye? What was he going through? The man had amassed so much wealth and spent it so extravagantly that even the wealthy were baffled. Kaufye become so inaccessible that his own peers could not understand or attain his level of grandeur. He had become the ultimate foreign man.

Of course the goal of any foreign man is to become accepted by society, to lose the label of foreign. So, why wouldn’t Kaufye use his influence and wealth to gain acceptance into the world’s most powerful society, the Illuminati? The character of Kaufye has been known to contort his hands into the shape of a pyramid during photo ops, a well-known symbol of the Illuminati. In addition to this, Illuminati symbolism can be seen his work. The music for his song “POWER” features Kaufye posed between masonic pillars as he wears a necklace featuring the Egyptian god Horus. In “Runaway” he befriends a fallen angel, while the cover of Watch The Throne features a double-headed phoenix.

Kaufye’s involvement with the Illuminati has given him untold control over the music industry, and the public find themselves subjected to radio waves populated by Kaufye and other performance-artists-turned-Illuminati-infused musicians (ie. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé). Having this kind of power is something that seems a no-brainer for the character of Kanye West, and it makes even more sense given the history of Andy Kaufman.

Kaufman

Though Kaufman never showed an outward interest in the Illuminati or other secret societies, he was fascinated by social experiments and changing the ways we thought and behaved. Inclusion in a secret society that transcends all government, pulling the strings, would give Kaufman the freedom to execute pranks and experiments on a global scale. What if nations were pitted against each other? What happens when musicians hold more power than presidents? Andy Kaufman is up there finding the answers. And as for SNL40, what better way to maintain a secret allegiance with the reptilians than to pay a visit Lorne Michaels and Dan Aykroyd’s semi-annual gathering and post-show sacrifice?

Kevin Cole and David Luna

Alex Koll

KollPortrait

Alex Koll is an absurdist comic working in New York, he’s appeared on Conan, Comedy Central’s Live At Gotham and is a founding member of The Business, a weekly stand up show that has spread across the nation.  His official bio notes that “Alex is currently flightless and unable to lay eggs.” He recently sat down with David Luna for a little chat.

David Luna: What is your earliest memory?

Alex Koll: Man, I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I have a memory of my mom rocking me in a rocking chair, but I feel like I was a little older when that happened.

It’s weird because I’ve been thinking a lot about it in context of myself, because I have a six-month-old and I keep wondering if or not he’s forming memories now.

DL: There are some people who can remember all the way back to when they were born or even earlier.

AK: Really? What do they say usually when it starts?

DL: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe feeling emotions from the tones of voice of people around them.  There’s some writer, I can’t remember who. He recalled entire conversations. What do you call that, when you have complete retention of everything?

AK: Like photographic memory?

DL: Something like that but of every single word.

AK: Wow.

DL: Neither of us have that, unfortunately.

AK: Yeah, not me. What’s yours?

DL: Oh, my earliest memory? Huh.

I was watching a video of myself eating Kraft yellow American cheese singles.

AK: That’s fantastically specific.

DL: What kind of person were you in high school?

AK: I was a bonafide nerd, for sure. I found the pride in that at some point and ran with it. Again, it’s funny–I was rifling through some old school photos, and there’s just a jump between 9th grade and 10th grade where my hair goes down to my shoulders, and I’m wearing this ridiculous vest. It’s like, “This is the year I found the book on the ’60s.”  And those were the six months I was a hippie, embarrassingly.

High school–at the beginning for a lot of people, I think–it’s the years when you bust out. You mature out of a previous personality or something like that.

Again, this is a very interesting question for today in particular. Today is my mom’s birthday, and when I was 17 she passed, so it’s actually been 20 years since she passed away. And that was my junior year in high school, so junior and senior year are very interesting for me.

I was a goofball for a long time.

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