The Reason Some Are Convinced Andy Kaufman Is Still Alive

There is absolutely no reason that something so trivial as death should stop a career. Indeed, as CNBC reports, many of the musicians you know and love were either nobodies before they died or, at the very least, washed up and in need of money at the end of their lives. These individuals subsequently went on to have career resurgences after their deaths; the list includes Selena Quintanilla (who was murdered by a fan) and Janis Joplin, whose biggest hit (“Me and Bobby McGee”) only charted after she’d died of a drug overdose.

Other performers tend to exist in a sort of cult-like state after their deaths, with fans refusing to believe they actually died. Perhaps most famously there’s Elvis Presley, who absolutely, certainly died in 1977, according to Time, but some fans continue to believe that he didn’t actually die but faked his own death for … reasons.

Another performer who died decades ago, but with fans who continue to insist that he’s alive, is comedian Andy Kaufman. Considering the comic’s penchant for making the audience part of the joke, coming back from the dead after four decades would be the ultimate laugh-getter.

Coming back from the dead would be the most Andy Kaufman joke of all time

To understand why some fans think Andy Kaufman is still alive, it’s first necessary to understand Kaufman’s style of comedy. Long story short, as explained in a 1999 New Yorker report, the comic considered making the audience confused and uncomfortable funny — and by that we mean, “funny to Andy Kaufman.” Indeed, that was part of his two-pronged approach to comedy: perform stuff that he finds funny, whether or not the audience gets it, and indeed, make the audience part of the joke. This approach to comedy is perhaps best exemplified in his bit where he performed the “Mighty Mouse” theme in baritone.

Kaufman died of lung cancer in 1984 at the age of 35, according to Britannica. However, some of his fans aren’t having any of that. To some, according to a 2015 New Yorker report, he simply disappeared to New Mexico, possibly reinventing himself as a monk (because that’s the kind of thing Andy Kaufman would do). At some point, he’s going to reveal the hoax, and everyone is going to have a big laugh. It’s a joke that took four decades to get to the payoff; in other words, vintage Kaufman.

Of course, there’s absolutely zero evidence that Kaufman is anywhere but in his grave, and this fan theory holds on thanks to a few of his closest friends persisting in their own belief that his death was a hoax.

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