Between 1977 and 1979, the criminally arcane and much-missed late comic Andy Kaufman recorded many conversations he had with his grandmother. When recently unearthed, the tapes turned out to contain 82 hours of exactly that – Andy’s conversations with his grandmother. Our former colleague here, wowlebrity Rodney Ascher (director of the doc Room 237), was asked to edit them. The resulting baffling compilation shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the source.
Rodney Ascher tells us: “The simplest way to explain it is that Andy recorded 80+ hours of material on a portable microcassette recorder (which he apparently took with him EVERYWHERE), intending to cut it into an album of some sort back between 77-79. He never got around to editing it and the tapes languished in a shoebox for 30+ years until his widow brought them to the record label, Drag City, which enlisted Vernon Chatman to produce a record from them. He brought me on as editor and the two of us listened to everything (which was a pretty bizarre trip in itself) and tried to reconstruct the record Andy might have made. He didn’t leave behind any instructions or a log or notes or anything, so we had to use his recorded comments (and he actually talked a fair amount about his vision for the record) as our guide.”
Says the disc’s producer Vernon Chatman in the liner notes: “When I was asked if I’d be willing to listen to the tapes and cut together The Album That Andy Might Have, I was so offended at how disrespectful and impossible the very notion was that I immediately agreed to do it. I believe that I, my editor Rodney, and Drag City honchbro Dan Koretzky are the only people on the planet (including Andy himself) to have listened to every minute of the tapes.”
Here’s a sample of Andy and His Grandmother: