Andy Kaufman

Andy and His Grandmother

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Released nearly 30 years after his death, Andy Kaufman's "debut comedy album" Andy and His Grandmother is a skittish, strange hodge-podge of half-baked ideas, leftover recordings, and found-sound brilliance, and for folks who take their album titles literally, it contains very little material from his Grandmother. It's also an excuse for the "death hoax" rumor to rear its head again, but it's doubtful that Kaufman would have green-lit such an archival project because there are moments here that are certifiably "hardcore fans only" (a long bit where Andy defends the tag of "genius"; too much relationship talk to take). Preaching to the converted just wasn't his bag. Still, with a scant bit of material available, Kaufman fans will relish this set, which was compiled and edited by Rodney Ascher and pulled from 82 hours of micro-cassette recordings Kaufman captured between 1977 and 1979. The conversations with Grandma ("Does it take pictures?" "No, it records sound", "Sound?" "Yes! SOUND!") are the charming, relatable bits from which the album gets it title, but there are plenty of uneasy girlfriend conversations, too, where fans can eavesdrop on a relationship from the first post-coital talk ("Slice of Life") to its bitter, micro-cassetted end ("I Want Those Tapes"). There are some hilariously brilliant bits, like the cosmic "Sleep Comedy" and the silly wonder called "Andy Can Talk to Animals," plus SNL star Bill Hader provides narration while Jim O'Rourke provides a wee bit of music. This is too unfinished and uneven to call a masterpiece, but Kaufman's loyal fan base should still check out this insightful and wonderfully weird experiment.

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