Why would someone so gentle-natured and sensitive build an entire career seeking the hatred of his audience? What drives a performer to solicit that reaction? With the same nuance and sympathy with which he approached Andre the Giant in his 2014 biography, graphic novelist Box Brown takes on the complex and often hilarious life of Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman…what do you really know about this guy? What is he really like?
I certainly didn’t know too much about him. All I knew were 1. he was a strange comedian; 2. he was on Taxi; and 3. he died very young. In Is This Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, Box Brown explores this eccentric comedian and the things that inspired him to take on the various personas in his comedy acts.
WHAT DO YOU GET IN IS THIS GUY FOR REAL?: THE UNBELIEVABLE ANDY KAUFMAN
- Andy enjoyed performing.
From performing his comedy acts as different people to wrestling with woman and the greats, Andy enjoyed performing. He pushed his boundaries to the point where nobody knew who the real Andy was. He was an enigma in a performance because he was a kind person, but he could be very obnoxious, especially when he was performing his wrestling persona. You don’t truly know what’s going in that head of his.
Readers get a better understanding of the impact Andy Kaufman left behind.
His comedy was highly effective. It achieved what I imagined he wanted—to get people to notice and react—and it’s hard not to with the personas he created. Who can forget the shy, heavily-accented Foreign Man who told unsuccessful jokes and then impressed the audience by doing an excellent and funny impersonation of Elvis? Or the aggressive wrestler wannabe who wrestled with woman, declared himself “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World,” and started a rivalry with “The King”? With the way he presented himself (and his persona), readers can sense why people thought everything is an act—like his death.
- You will get the desire to see his old comedy acts.
I know I did! I’ve only seen screenshots, but I wanted to experience his comedy acts, and oh wow. That Andy is a weird, but intriguing performer. You get a sense of why his acts were intriguing to people. He commits to it, and it’s hard to see where the real Andy Kaufman is in his acts.
- This graphic memoir focuses a lot on Andy’s love for wrestling.
Don’t pick this graphic memoir up because you want to learn about his comedy or his days on Taxi. Box Brown does explore the inspirations for his comedy, but focuses a lot on the wrestling and Elvis (but more so wrestling). Andy loved wrestling, and I—and I’m sure many other folks—had no idea. Readers get to see wrestling become engrained in his comedy acts (like with his rivalry with Jerry “The King” Lawler), and how that changed a big of how entertainment wrestling is viewed.
- Box Brown knows how to get you sucked into the story.
The beauty of Box Brown’s graphic memoirs are that he takes familiar subject and teaches us about why this person or subject matters. He presents his stories in a way that reads like a movie—you’re not bored by the facts and history that are explored. His art doesn’t clutter; it’s highly focalized, and you can see how he’s interested in his subject matter. He cares.
Why you should read Is This Guy for Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman? You get to learn about the great and eccentric Andy Kaufman. He’s someone that everybody should get to know because this dude inspired and intrigued a lot of people. Andy Kaufman pushed boundaries, and you’ll want to know how.
Who will love this comic? Lovers of Andy Kaufman. Graphic memoir readers! Wrestling fans.