‘There’s no way to describe what I do. It’s just me.’ –Andy Kaufman

Laurie Anderson: And I thought, I must meet this guy [Andy Kaufman], and I went up to him and said, “I love what you’re doing,” and I became his sidekick. I followed him around for a couple of years and did his straight-man stuff in his clubs. You know, he wrote an incredible book that was never published.

The Believer: Really?

Laurie Anderson: Yeah—it should have been published. He came over here and read it to me on a lot of nights. I don’t know what happened to this book. But in terms of expectation, he was the beyond-master of anyone that I’ve ever come across. He was a genius of disrupted expectation. For example, we’d go out to Coney Island to just practice situations, and we’d get on the roto-whirl where the bottom drops out, and we’d just be spinning around, so there’s a minute where everyone’s locked in. And that’s when he began to freak out: “I think we’re all going to die on this ride! Look at the way the belts are done, they’re really flimsy!” And everyone is like, “Who is this moron?” and second, “Maybe the belts aren’t attached that well,” and it was chaos. Or we’d go over to the test-your-strength thing, and my job was to help him make fun of the guys who were doing it. [Doing Andy’s voice] “Ah, look at this weakling”—and everyone got so angry at that for a while. They’d go, “OK, you try it, wise guy,” and so he would—and I’m supposed to, like, nag him. [Doing a whiney voice] “Get me a bunny, Annndy. I want a big bunny. Look at these guys, you’re a lot stronger than they are!” And, anyway, so he would try, and it would hardly register on the scale at all, it wouldn’t even get up to “Try Again, Weakling,” it just went beep [flatline noise], and at that point he would demand to see the manager: “I don’t know why this happened!” And everyone is like, “Oh god,” and he goes way beyond what’s supposed to happen.

{ Interview with Laurie Anderson | Continue reading }