This is without a doubt the strangest story you will hear all week. I’ll try to keep it brief, but just know there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered if you ever hope to understand the living embodiment of comedy madness that was (or is) Andy Kaufman.
As far as most people are concerned, comedian Andy Kaufman died in 1984 following a battle with lung cancer. You may remember this from the film Man On The Moon, which found Jim Carrey portraying Kaufman throughout his most famous years. What you might also recall is that in the film’s final moments Andy’s alter-ego, Tony Clifton, continued performing following his death, leaving everyone to question whether or not Kaufman’s death was another over-the-top stunt. Now, it seems the truth may actually be stranger than fiction.
The ninth annual Andy Kaufman Comedy Awards took place this past Monday (11/11/13) at the Gotham City Comedy Club in NYC. During the event, Andy’s brother Michael Kaufman took the stage to reveal a number of surprising revelations about the iconic comedian many have believed to be dead for the last three decades. According to Michael (by way of The Comic’s Comic), he is not sure whether or not his brother is alive. He claimed that while cleaning out Andy’s things after his death in 1984, he found among his many writings an essay about how Andy planned to fake his own death, his literal, figurative and spiritual leaps through meditation, and how he’d eventually reappear on Christmas Eve on 1999 at a particular restaurant that had served him a favored dish years earlier. Michael said he ventured to the restaurant on the date Andy mentioned, asked for a table under one of Andy’s pseudonyms, and waited. He didn’t meet his brother that night, but said someone handed him an envelope, and in that envelope was a letter addressed to Michael from Andy. The letter purported that Andy wanted to go into hiding and live a normal life, that he’d met and fallen in love with a woman and had a daughter, and that he didn’t want Michael or anyone to say anything while their own father was still alive. Andy and Michael’s father passed away this summer, which explains why Michael has finally come forward with this story.
Michael continued speaking with the audience and soon revealed that following his father’s death a young woman contacted him claiming to be Andy’s daughter. She told Michael that Andy indeed was alive, that he was watching the Andy Kaufman Awards from afar and loving the fact that so many comedians had been inspired by him. When Michael asked the Gotham audience if that young woman had showed up Monday night, a 24-year-old eventually stood up from the back of the room and slowly made her way onstage. She did not reveal her name, and Michael asked that everyone in the room respect her privacy, but a few photos and video from the event have since found their way online.
The woman claiming to be Andy’s daughter talked about her alleged father on stage for a handful of minutes, but the details she provided about him are relatively scarce. She claims he hid his former fame from her for a long time, but eventually shared it with her and now takes great pride in knowing he inspired (and continues to inspire) so many young comedians.
At this point it’s far too early to know just how legitimate the woman’s claims are, but first-hand accounts from people attending the event lead us to believe it was indeed a true reveal. Killy Dwyer, one of this year’s Andy Kaufman Awards finalists, wrote on Facebook about the announcement that Kaufman is still alive:
“Ok. Tonight was a mindfuck. Anyone who was there will attest. Andy Kaufman’s daughter came onstage and claimed he was alive. It was. It was…I can’t tell you how it was, only that it was as real as any reality that i’ve seen. and yeah. I get that it is – could – might all be a hoax. That was the only and last thing I want to say. it was fucking fucked up. She said he is alive and that the passing of his father this July made him want to reach out via her- to Michael, Andy’s brother. She said he is watching the award entries, semi and finalists with great interest always. He just wanted to disappear. To be a father. To be an observer. As much as this seems like bullshit as I type it, it was as real as anything I’ve ever seen. There is video. It was chilling, upsetting and absolutely intriguing. I bawled my eyes out. The entire room was freaked out. It was, if nothing else, brilliant. and incredibly mindfuckng and AWESOME.”
As you can imagine, everyone who has even the slightest interest in comedy is now trying to separate fact from fiction in this bizarre tale. I’m not sure what to believe anymore, but I do know that mass confusion and excitement like this is something that would put a big smile on Kaufman’s face.
Do you think Andy Kaufman is still alive? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.
UPDATE: The woman claiming to be Andy’s daughter has been revealed as a fake. Click here for details.