Florian Keller's Andy Kaufman: Wrestling with the American Dream PDF

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By Florian Keller

Whilst Andy Kaufman succumbed abruptly to lung melanoma in 1984, a few of his lovers believed that his demise used to be another tricky prank. Over the former decade, Kaufman had completed unbelievable status for his weird and wonderful antiperformances lip-synching the powerful Mouse topic tune, examining "The nice Gatsby" aloud in its entirety while humans anticipated comedy, asking viewers participants to the touch a boil on his neck that puzzled, pissed off, or angry his audience.
In "Andy Kaufman," Florian Keller explores Kaufman s occupation inside a broader dialogue of the ideology of the yankee Dream. Taking as his place to begin the 1999 biopic "Man at the Moon," Keller brilliantly decodes Kaufman in a fashion that makes it attainable to know his radical time table past avant-garde theories of transgression. As an entertainer, Kaufman submerged his id underneath a multiplicity of personas, enacting the yankee trust that the self can and will be perpetually remade for the sake of happiness and luck. He did this so conscientiously and continuously, Keller argues, that he uncovered the interior contradictions of the US s ideology of self-invention.
Keller posits that Kaufman provided a substantially diverse and maybe stronger good judgment of cultural feedback than did extra openly political comedians similar to Lenny Bruce. proposing shut readings of Kaufman s most important performances, Keller indicates how Kaufman fastened for the advantage of a regularly uncomprehending public a sustained and noteworthy critique of the USA s obsession with famous person and individualism.

Florian Keller is a fellow on the Institute of Cultural stories, institution of paintings and layout, collage of technologies and humanities, Zurich."

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Additional resources for Andy Kaufman: Wrestling with the American Dream

Sample text

One of the Wrst Wgures to violate the codes of conduct within the genre of stand-up, Lenny Bruce often took an openly political stance in his performances, and in the course of his stage career, he became more and more notorious for his behavior on stage. Thus, while he has long been widely appreciated as one of the harbingers of postmodern standup comedy, Bruce is also gloriWed as the “outrageous comedian par excellence” (Limon 2000, 13). In a similar vein, when Bruce is turned into a literary character in Don DeLillo’s grand novel Underworld, he is introduced simply as “the infamous sick comic” (1997, 504).

Ultimately, the fact that he takes conceptual art and the notion of “rejection of presence” as his theoretical frame of reference makes for an interpretation that does not reach beyond the contextual constraints of art and theatricality. Reading Kaufman’s acts as gestures that are conWned within the institutional frame of their own context, Auslander disregards the possibility that Kaufman may have been not so much the conceptual artist of comedy, but a performer who questioned more than just the representational codes of comedy and entertainment.

Kaufman’s performances are not to be reduced to mere formal transgressions, avant-gardist innovations within the conventionalized limits of the theatrical form of comedy, as Philip Auslander FUNNY OR NOT – 19 would read them. Kaufman’s mode of subversion was much more radical. If he was one of the most controversial Wgures in American show business, it was not because Kaufman was not “funny” or supposedly ceased to be funny at some point. Rather, it was his no-less-than-obscene gesture of absolute compliance with the imperative of that colossal collective fantasy that is the American Dream.

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