Andy Kaufman never got to see Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, but if he had, perhaps the late great performer would have served up a tribute similar to what Brett Davis produced on Sunday night, when Davis won the 11th annual Andy Kaufman Award.
Davis actually employed some of his competitors for the award to help carry out his masquerade orgy gone awry at the UCB East, which started to fray upon hearing a music cue from The Fray, and continued long after his performance — thanks to the smell of rotisserie chicken that permeated the theater.
Davis is the second straight Andy Kaufman Award winner to emerge from the Chris Gethard comedy universe (Dru Johnston won in 2014) — The Special without Brett Davis took over the Manhattan public access time slot from The Chris Gethard Show when Gethard and company jumped to Fusion.
Fans of The Special Without Brett Davis may recall Episode 11: “The Grand Inquisitor.”
This year’s crop of contestants proved mighty worthy of pride and joy from Kaufman’s family. Andy’s brother, Michael, produces the event each year; and Andy’s daughter, sister, and brother-in-law also attended; while Elayne Boosler, Andy’s love and roommate dating back to the early 1970s, hosted this year. Boosler shared stories from their time together, led a Mighty Mouse singalong — Sunday, after all, was the actual 40th anniversary of the premiere of Saturday Night Live which featured Andy Kaufman’s performance — and sold commemorative shirts that benefitted her non-profit animal rescue Tails of Joy.
Seek out any of the other finalists and bring some joy into your life:
- Ben Kronberg found himself interrogated by his passive-aggressive cell phone (here’s a teaser)
- Jo Firestone told a delightful story about eating a falafel platter by herself in New York City (Merry Christmas!)
- Jim Hickox engaged with the audience in an interactive set from his laptop, onstage, after re-enacting an inspiring scene from Independence Day (here he was from 2011)
- Ana Fabrega showed off several of her characters (talking about women in comedy on The Special Without Brett Davis)
- Julio Torres performed the stand-up set that earned him much notice at New Faces in Montreal this summer (Legalize Julio)
- Alison Rich didn’t need a microphone for her showcase of characters (character reel)
- Nathan Barnatt (as Ray Amsley) closed out the night with his “sneak attack” of self-defense tactics, which he pulled off with only one leg!
The Andy Kaufman Award “is a showcase for promising cutting-edge artists with fresh and unconventional material, for those willing to take risks with an audience, and for those who do not define themselves by the typical conventions of comedy. It seeks to recognize a performer who lives and works outside the ordinary, as Kaufman did.” The winner received $2,500 and entry into the inner circle of past winners of the Andy Kaufman Award.
(Photos by Dan Pasternack)