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Author Topic: The strangest night of my life  (Read 954 times)

SeilerBird

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The strangest night of my life
« on: April 17, 2018, 08:35:27 AM »
December 16, 1978.

How strange was it? On the ride home I said to my wife that this night was so strange I would never be able to describe it to anyone because no one would believe it and they might have me committed for making it up. However I  just watched the second movie that features events from that night. The first movie was Man In The Moon, the life story of Andy Kaufman. The second movie I just watched was Andy and Jim, a Netflix original documentary. Fortunately the Internet now exists and I can find out more information about this insane evening. Every word that follows is true to the best of my recollection.

Andy Kaufman appeared at the Huntington Hartford Theater in a concert and I got two tickets to go. I have a long history of going to see comedians in concert. The very funniest comedian I have ever seen was Johnny Carson in Las Vegas in the early 70s. He positively killed me. He was much funnier on stage than he was on his show. Another concert that stood out was seeing Steve Martin at the Universal Amphitheater on September 28, 1979. He was like the Beatles of comedy at the time. The arrow through his head and all the classic stuff of his was done live. The killer part was the Blues Brothers were the opening act. I also saw George Carlin on April 1, 1972 at Moorpark College and I got to see the seven words you can never say on TV bit. I have also seen Weird Al (twice), Carrot Top, Gallagher, Penn and Teller, Cheech and Chong, Steven Wright, Dr Demento, Don Rickles, Ricky Jay and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and many other lesser comedians.

Anyway on this night I arrived at 7:00pm for an 8:30 show I am really glad I was very early. I was looking around the audience and I noticed Robin Williams sitting in the middle of the theater. This was only three months since the premier of Mork and Mindy and he was not really well known at that point. I had just read an article on People magazine about Robin and it mentioned he owned a Mexican double yellow parrot named Cora. I owned an African grey parrot so I went over to talk to him and I opened the conversation with "My African grey parrot Winston told me that if I should see Robin Williams tonight to please ask him to say hi to Cora and send her my love". Robin didn't blink, he simply gave me a private five minute performance about parrots. He had Cora and Winston doing all kinds of kinky parrot stuff. It still gives me chills thinking about the moment.

So the stage is empty, the curtain is closed and there is a 45 rpm record playing (obvious scratches, clicks and pops) of a song that was annoying to say the least. It was an instrumental of calliope music like you would hear at a circus or a skating rink. It was about 3 minutes long and every time it would end there would be a short pause and it would be started over. About the 20th time it was restarted the audience was getting restless and was reacting with groans every time it was restarted. Then he started making the pauses a bit longer to give the audience the idea that the show was really going to start now, since it was getting past 8:30. Finally the curtains opened and there was an orchestra on stage and the audience went wild. Real music from real people. The band starts playing and out walks Tony Clifton. At this point in time no one knew who Tony Clifton was or that it was really Andy in makeup. Tony sings about as bad as anyone can sing and insults the audience many times. No one knows what the heck to think. We pay for Andy and we get a bad lounge singer. Finally the audience boos him off stage and he leaves the stage and the audience cheers wildly that he is gone. One minute passes and Tony reappears and says "I am getting paid to perform and I will perform." and then sings another song to a wild chorus of boos. A few songs later he insults the audience and leaves and the curtains close. The calliope song comes on and the audience cheers it wildly.

Then after about ten minutes Andy finally appears on stage and does his whole act. The cow goes moo, Elvis, Mighty Mouse, the congas, and all his classic stuff. The audience is cheering him wildly loving every minute of it. Somewhere in the middle of the show a sign drops from the ceiling that says 'Milk and cookies'. He has the audience read the sign out loud and then announces "Remember that because after the show we are all going out for milk and cookies." Ya right, very funny, all 500 of us going out for milk and cookies. So the show finally ends and he comes out wearing a robe and thanks us for being a wonderful audience. He tells us we are such a great audience he has a surprise for us all, Santa Claus. And sure enough a guy in a Santa suit comes on stage and ho ho hos the audience. The audience goes wild. Santa exits and Andy says we are such a great audience he has another surprise for us, the New York City Rockettes. Oh sure. He walks off stage, the curtain parts and on stage is a chorus line of women dressed as Rockettes doing high leg kicks. The audience goes nuts. When they end their number Andy reappears and tells us that we are such a great and appreciative audience he has one more surprise, the Morman Tabernacle Choir. Come on now? Sure enough the curtains part and there must be 100 people on stage dressed like the choir in robes and they do a whole number. The audience really goes wild and Andy appears again and tells us how great we are and that his is going to take everyone out for milk and cookies and there are buses out front to take us to the restaurant. and he leaves the stage, the house lights come on and the doors open in the rear of the theater. Everyone stands up and starts to leave not knowing what to think.

So we walk out the back of the theater and walk around to the front of the theater and there on Vine Street is a dozen bright yellow school buses parked. The audience gets into the buses and the buses drive us to the Old Spaghetti Factory on Sunset a few blocks away. On the bus I was on we sang The Cow Goes Moo. We arrive at the restaurant, go inside and get in line. At the head of the line is two tables. The first one we come to has Robin Williams standing behind it passing out Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies to everyone and the second table has Andy, still in his robe handing out one pint of milk to each person. We sit down and watch people getting their cookies and milk and we consume the milk and cookies and I am just in shock at what I have just seen. We watch the proceedings for about 15 minutes and then get back on the bus which takes us back to the theater so we can go home.

In researching this on the Internet I discovered that both Judd Hirsch and Tony Danza were in the audience that night also but I never saw them. It was in April of 1979 that he repeated the performance at Carnegie Hall and that is the performance that was recreated in the two movies. I am really glad that I got to see it in the movies because it was such a surreal experience there were many times I wondered if it really did happen. The interesting thing is I also said on the ride home that I would never experience a night as bizarre as this one and I never have. He only did this show twice because I am sure he lost money putting it on with all the extras, musicians and buses he had to pay for. I am so thrilled I got to participate.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Utclmjmpr

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 09:36:34 AM »
  OOHH, BUT i'M ALL BETTER NOW.>>>
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jackiemac

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 11:35:38 AM »
Apart from Robin I don't know many of those names, however that does sound like an unbelievable night! Lucky lucky you.....
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SeilerBird

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 11:40:04 AM »
I feel sorry for you since you are too young to have experienced Andy Kaufman. IMHO he is the funniest comic that ever was. But he was very different and hard to understand, like me. If you watch Man In The Moon you will see what I am talking about.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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BigLarry

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 07:50:38 PM »
What an experience!!!  I remember most of those guys.  I never saw any of them live, but certainly enjoyed them.  Andy Kaufman was one of a kind.  Too bad we lost him so early.
Larry and Betty
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BruceinFL

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2018, 04:02:47 PM »
Andy Kaufman. Wasn't he in the Taxi sitcom? Played Latka. He was great.
Bruce A.
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SargeW

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2018, 12:34:51 AM »
Cool story Tom! Thanks.
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SeilerBird

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2018, 03:28:42 AM »
Andy Kaufman. Wasn't he in the Taxi sitcom? Played Latka. He was great.
Yep, that is the guy. ;D
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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ClickHill

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 07:54:35 AM »
I loved all those comedians, and enjoyed this story so much.
What an awesome night. I am jealous.

P.S. I have a 22 year old cockatiel. Actually it is my 28 year old daughter's bird. She has had him since was eight, but she didn't take Al with her when she grew up, and moved away.
I will not let her take Al now.  ;D
D & D
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SeilerBird

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Re: The strangest night of my life
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2018, 09:15:15 AM »
Cockatiels are such great little birds. Fabulous personatlities. ;D
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/y0HbMU5KYa2hx02E3
My portfolio:
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My Grand Canyon shots:
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