I HAVE SEEN THE CRUDEST, MOST INSULTING, VILE AND OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF ALL TIME! And I loved every minute of it! I’m talking about “TONY CLIFTON, LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP.”
Posted by Todd David Schwartz on June 17, 2011 – 11:31am
For those of you who may not know, Tony Clifton was a creation — an alter-ego, if you will — of the late great comedian Andy Kaufman. The term “comic genius” is often casually bandied about, but Kaufman was one man who absolutely, truly deserved that assignation. It was generally known that the Tony Clifton character (a loud, smug, low-class lounge singer who cracked filthy and insulting jokes in between his crummy singing) was Andy Kaufman in disguise. But there’s a mystery here: There were occasions when the Clifton character was on stage performing — and Andy Kaufman was in the audience!! In addition, according to some, Kaufman supposedly faked his own death, with the plan to return live on stage one year after his alleged demise. A year after Kaufman passed, members of the comedy elite, throngs of his fans, and folks in the media crowded the main room of The Comedy Store for a very special Tony Clifton appearance. Anticipation and expectation ran high as many in the audience expected (or at least hoped) that after his Tony Clifton show, Andy himself would return to the stage, joyously preening over his triumphant resurrection, having the last laugh over those who had actually believed he had died. Well, the Clifton concert ended and (drum roll, please), Andy Kaufman was nowhere to be found. But then, the mystery lived on: Who was this person who claimed to be Tony Clifton? There are many theories, but rather than discussing them here, I prefer to let the mystery remain. That’s the way Andy would have wanted it. So last year, there was another Tony Clifton show at The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. “Politically correct” is not in the man’s vocabulary. But not since the heyday of Lenny Bruce has a comic so mightily wielded a flaming sword of screamingly funny, brutally brazen sick, sick humor. So if you love dark, no-holds-barred comedy, this show is like manna from heaven. Or devil’s food cake from hell, take your pick.