The little TV I watched as a child typically occurred in other peoples’ homes on Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday mornings. My grandfather loved putting on the wrestling matches in the late 70s to early 80s to nap to on Saturday afternoons after a morning of yard work. He loved catching Randall Poffo, aka Randy Macho Man Savage, wrestle in his younger years, often stating: ‘Oh, his old man was a good wrestler right there’. Later on, in the 80s, he’d let me stay up with him and watch the Saturday Night Main Event during the hey day of the WWF, waiting for Randy Poffo.
Late Sunday mornings were marked by the occassional wrestling match as well after church and breakfast. You can imagine the confusion I had watching Andy Kaufman wrestle, taunting southerners, Jerry The King Lawler, and the camera during my earliest memories of wrestling-watching with my grandfather. Afterall, at that point, I only knew Andy as Latka, the funny talking character actor on the hit TV show my dad enjoyed watching, Taxi. Andy’s performance art attack on wrestling, and everything it encompassed at that time (American hillbillies, the south, wrestling, comedy, etc.) is the core beginning and end of my understanding for performance art and comedy. Wrestling is as old as the Bible, if not older, so to witness the mockery of such a sport at an early age by someone so far ahead of his time with regards to comedy and performance art may explain why I believe all sports are jokes and that the jokes are often funnier, scarier, and truer than one would want to believe. The core of Kaufman’s wrestling performance art expressed nothing more than a desire to be hated, which is admirable and harder to achieve than being loved. For in wrestling, like life, there are good guys and bad guys but it takes a lot more energy, time and tons of talent to want to be hated as ficticiously as Andy Kaufman attempted. And succeeded.