Andy Kaufman David Letterman

If you’ve seen the biopic Man on the Moon starring Jim Carrey, then you know that there’s a rather infamous episode of Late Show with David Letterman where comedian Andy Kaufman appeared with wrestler Jerry Lawler. As we know now, the two staged an on-air tiff that resulted in the groundbreaking comedian getting slapped right out of his chair, causing him to come back and throw coffee at the wrestler, and no one else seemed to be in on the joke.

And now another clip of Kaufman on Letterman’s show has appeared online, and it appears to be the first time this particular clip has been made available on the internet. I’ve tried to soak up as much of Kaufman’s unique brand of comedy as I can, and since clips like this are few and far between, I can’t recommend enough that you view this evidence of a kind of comedy that was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before.

Here’s the 1983 Andy Kaufman David Letterman appearance (via The AV Club):

This episode is from January 7th, 1983, and Kaufman’s total time on the show is nearly 20 minutes. If that seems a little long, that’s because at one point Letterman used to have one 90-minute episode per month, so this kind of extended schtick was a little more common with plenty of time to kill.

It’s fascinating to see how the audience reacts to Kaufman’s antics, mostly because they’re not sure when he’s being genuine and honest or playing this larger than life persona that he manifested. They chuckle at the most mundane remarks, mostly because Kaufman is a naturally funny guy, but also because they don’t really know what’s serious and what’s not.

This appearance actually came after the infamous 1982 episode with Jerry Lawler and about a year and a half before Kaufman would die on May 16th, 1984 after being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. If you want to check out the Jerry Lawler clip, you can watch that below and compare it to the final scene in Man on the Moon as well:

If there’s one other thing we can take away from these clips, it’s that Jim Carrey knocked his performance as Andy Kaufman out of the park in Man on the Moon, and I wish he would have gotten an Oscar nomination for his performance.

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