The subject of faking his death comes up late on Andy Kaufman’s “Andy and His Grandmother,” the comic legend’s posthumous first album. It happens during a phone conversation between Kaufman and an associate, probably his frequent coconspirator Bob Zmuda, about an album of real-life conversations Kaufman wanted to make. A former girlfriend angrily demands Kaufman hand over the tapes that feature her, but Kaufman refuses, while recording the conversation. He thinks he has a great album on his hands, which would be even better if the woman killed him and the whole story were captured for posterity. The conversation then turns to how Kaufman could find immortality if he faked his death. No one would believe he was dead.
It’s an intriguing end to what is undoubtedly one of the strangest albums in recent memory. Kaufman died of lung cancer in 1984, and never got to make an album in his lifetime. But between 1977 and 1979, he recorded 82 hours of conversations and comic sketches to draw from. It’s hard to know exactly what the album Kaufman wanted to make would have sounded like, but editor Vernon Chatman (co-creator of MTV2’s “Wonder Showzen”) waded through all of the tape and came up with the perfect tribute. He strikes exactly the right tone, with an appreciation for Kaufman’s ability to provoke anger as much as laughter, adding a few sound effects and some voice-overs with Bill Hader.