Comic Won't Be Pinned Down: 'Andy Kaufman: World Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion'

April 28, 2010

IT’S A CLEVER gag, wrestling women from the audience. Andy Kaufman spent three years doing it, offering a grand to any female opponent who could pin him in three minutes or less.

He granted himself the title “World Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion” and managed to keep it. It was all part of his bizarre song and dance, and Kaufman was committed to the idea.

In the film, he explained, “Whenever I play a role, whether it’s an evil person or a nice person, I believe in being a purist and going all the way with the role. If I’m going to be a villainous wrestler, I believe in going all the way, straight to the hills.”

Was he simply a chauvinist? Was this part of a grand social satire? Did Kaufman just find a great joke and run with it?

These questions would all make for the subject of an interesting documentary, rife with discussions of gender roles and Kaufman’s outlandish humor, but if that’s what you’re expecting, you’ll be very disappointed. “Andy Kaufman: World Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion” is nothing more than original footage of, well, Kaufman wrestling women. Over and over. With an obnoxious soundtrack mostly comprising bad pop-punk.

Sure, there are occasional brief interviews with Kaufman, a few short bits where he taunts women for not having the brains to beat him, and even some lackluster footage of a Kaufman tribute that happened in 2009, but the vast majority of the film is girl-on-guy combat with very little narration. The whole disc feels hastily and thoughtlessly thrown together.

For the Kaufman enthusiast, perhaps the previously unreleased footage sheds new light on the man’s persona. Maybe it’s just one more step toward grasping the man’s puzzling persona. Or maybe you just have a thing for beloved outsider comedians tackling angry women.

For most of us, it’s tortuously long and essentially unedited. The first few minutes are intriguing, but the unchanging subject matter without supplementary investigation quickly becomes redundant and taxing.

It’s a shame no one put this archival footage to better use — Kaufman was an incredible entertainer, but this DVD is a bore.

Written by Express contributor Ryan Little
Photo courtesy APA/Archives

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