Great moments in Jewish comic history: Andy Kaufmann with Johnny Carson in 1977


Andrew Geoffrey Kaufman was born in New York and grew up in suburban Long Island.

He graduated in 1971 from the now-defunct Grahm Junior College in Boston, where he studied television. Kaufman lived in a hazy borderland between comedy and performance art. After appearing on the inaugural telecast of Saturday Night Live in 1975, he became famous as a comedian who provoked nervous laughter, if any at all. He was believed to be the first person to publicly, and repeatedly, perform in the garb and persona of Elvis Presley, and his impersonation was believed to be a Presley favorite.

His comedy act often caused his audience to become rowdy or to simply walk out in the middle of his show.

In August 1977 Kaufman appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  

After doing impressions in his Foreign Man accent, as well as the Elvis Presley impersonation, and playing a wild song from the Islands of the Caspian Sea on the bongo drums, Kaufman sat for an interview with Carson. 

In the interview, he explains the origin of his Elvis character and tells a story of how his Foreign Man character got an autograph from a woman in a massage parlor on 42nd Street in New York.