Measuring an entertainer from today that lives up to the talents and spirit of Andy Kaufman seems to me to be an almost impossible task. Andy Kaufman was a master of misdirection and the core of the comedic arts: surprise. How can you possibly say that one performer is the most unpredictable?
But the event judges showed themselves equal to the task, following up last year’s selection of Kristen Schaal with Reggie Watts, a comedian/musician who uses sound as a comic canvas. He began his set by speaking completely unintelligibly but hilariously for several sentences until he said clearly, “and that’s why I got into comedy.” Then ‘starting off by starting”, he went into one of his two songs which featured some incredible beatboxing into equally impressive verbal tap dancing. A later number was introduced as a “gentle” song about an elf, with the first lyric being a raucous “Hell yeah.” One of his most dazzling feats to me was watching him turn his confession that he had gone “gay” and was meeting with “gay integration counselors” that seem right out of a right-winger imagination into the blandest of corporate speak. (Check this clip called “Scrotor” to get a better idea of what Reggie is capable of.)
One of my favorites from the show were the especially fascinating Charlyne Yi, who collected some valuables from the audiences including some change, gold earrings and a camera and offer that along with the $125 in her pocket for someone to come up and punch her in the face. It was an incredibly beautiful awkward moment that despite the promises of it being “a very good trick” the diminutive Yi had a hard time finding a taker. (You can find some videos of hers on You Tube here.) Another interesting performer was Red Bastard, who resembles a devil with several disturbing bulbous implants on his belly and ass. His honesty at the hopes of being “plucked out of these dumps to be some place reputable like the American Airlines Theatre” was biting at both ends. Also enjoyable was Ken Barnard, who gave us a reading, in character, from his favorite novel - Rocky 3 (“The third is a series of five. Well, the author is working on a sixth). Ambrose Martos got the audience laughing for several uncomfortable seconds while he sat silent waiting for someone to ring a bell that launched him into a spontaneous birthday party for the bell ringer - complete with favor, present, party hat and cake.
One note: performers were asked to keep it clean, because Andy always did. And I have to say, that this show had the most kids I’ve ever seen at a comedy club and, even in environment where more conceptual and bizarre comedy reigned, they didn’t seem out of place at all.