Almost 30 years after his ‘death,’ Andy Kaufman‘s career continues to survive without him. The WWE will induct Kaufman into the Hall of Fame along with Rey Mysterio and The Great Muta. Kaufman was a prolific comedian, though he wouldn’t want you calling him that. He preferred to call himself a “song and dance man,” an anti-comedian. Kaufman didn’t enjoy telling jokes, often expressing a severe disdain for traditional comedy methods. It made him a unique face amongst his peers.
Kaufman was famous for Latka Gravas on the hit series “Taxi,” a series regular and Kaufman’s “Foreign Man” character. Kaufman even cameoed on the show as Tony Clifton, another of Kaufman’s characters, but signed to the series as a completely different actor. This was Kaufman’s brand of humor. Two contracts for a single series. One for a fictional man who was later “fired” for the difficulty he posed. Kaufman found his way into WWE, attracted to kayfabe nature of the sport and its theatricality. It was the perfect stage for Kaufman, who so greatly enjoyed staging elaborate hoaxes and ruses to entertain others.
Kaufman’s Style Changed The Face of Wrestling
Kaufman started out wrestling women, titling himself “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World” and offered $1000 to any woman who could pin him. Eventually Kaufman contacted the head of the WWF, Vince McMahon Sr. about bringing his act to a broader stage. Initially he was turned down for, rather hypocritically, bringing “showbusiness” into pro wrestling. However, after some discussion with wrestling photographer and reporter Bill Apter, Kaufman stepped into the ring with Jerry “The King” Lawler. After which Kaufman enjoyed a prolific career as a “heel”, playing up injuries and feuds between him and Lawler. Some of which were only discovered as staged 10 years after Kaufman’s death.
Kaufman has finally taken his place among legends, immortalized in the WWE Hall of Fame, as possibly one of the funniest wrestlers of all time who changed the face of the business.
According to the WWE, “Kaufman’s interactions with Lawler transformed the business and opened up pathways for future cross-over Superstars such as Johnny Knoxville who honored the comedian with his WrestleMania 38 ring gear.”