My Breakfast With Blassie - 1983, 68 min. / Directed by Linda Lautrec and Johnny Legend / 1.33:1 / DD Mono / I'm From Hollywood - 1992, 60 min. / Directed by Lynne Margulies and Joe Orr / 1.33:1 / DD Stereo / Rhino /
DS-SL Reg. 1 NSTC DVD / Rel. 4-25-2000 / MSRP 19.95

Love him or hate him, the comedy world probably would be a different place today if it weren't for Andy Kaufman. The brand of comedy which Kaufman practiced was a mix of traditional stand-up and yelling fire in a crowd theater; a volatile combination which drove some insane and turned other into fierce devotees of Kaufman's flamboyant style of gorilla entertainment. While the big Kaufman bio-pic Man on the Moon may not have been the most accurate presentation of his life and work, the upside is that many companies released some of Kaufman's more obscure material onto dvd to capitalize on its release, such as Rhino's excellent double feature dvd of I'm From Hollywood! and My Breafast with Blassie.

The Premise of Breakfast With Blassie is simple enough: Kaufman and world-famous wrestler Fred Blassie arrange to have a breakfast at downtown L.A. Diner Sambo's. The film (or to be more exact, video) is entirely devoted to the breakfast, which is full of odd discussions ranging from public health to politics, strange fans and their pregnant Thai waitress.

Although the piece originally started out as a straight parody of the arthouse flick My Dinner With Andre, The presence of these two improvisational giants spells comedic dynamite. The usually overbearing Kaufman takes a back seat and at times seems practically in awe of veteran wrestler Blassie and the incredible stories which flow from him. The angry fans and other situations which they get involved with seem a bit forced at times but Kaufman and Blassie rise above it all. This is probably one of the most natural and loosest improvs I've ever seen.

Rhino's DVD is a bit no-frills but remains semi-frilly enough to quench the thrist of Kaufman fanatics who've had to deal with multi-generational bootlegs and bad VHS copies for years. The video is sourced from the same old 3/4" 4:3 apect ratio tape master that's been around for years, and there are a few sporadic drop-outs and other weirdness associated with early video productions but beyond that there's no problem. The DD 2.0 mono track works but has all the flaws of the original track (slight drop-outs, etc.). Despite the lack of information on the back of the box, the disc actually does feature a few extras accessable through the disc's restaurant-style "menu", most importantly an approximately 30-minute audio interview with directors Legend and Lautrec. Taped during the time of Man On The Moon's release (Legend mentions it on the track), the interview thorougly explains the circumstances under which the project was concieved and it's tragic aftermath when Andy died after the movie's small release. The filmmakers mention that they had just recently uncovered a three-hour rough cut of Blassie which they were intending to release on video, but since it's been a number of years since this track the possiblity of this release seems very remote. Also included is footage from the film's world premiere featuring a sick-looking Andy wearing a mohawk. It's kind of painful to see Kaufman in such bad condition and since this footage was originally at the beginning of the VHS version of Blassie, Rhino made the right decision to isolate this as a bonus and soften the blow. highlighting the Rhino logo button in the extra features menu gives you an short easter egg: a trailer for some of Rhino's other comedy videos.

   
 

 

 

 

Side two of the disc contains the excellent documentary on Kaufman's brief wrestling career, I'm From Hollywood! Appropriately named after one of Kaufman's signature lines, Hollywood... follows the decent of comedic television actor Kaufman into the weird world of southern wrestling, from his early matches with women to his final bouts with Jerry "The King" Lawler. Robin Williams and a few of his co-stars from Taxi are interviewed, all of them giving the impression that Kaufman was genuinely obsessed with wrestling though they all share Kaufman's flair for exaggeration and "stretching" the truth. Ample footage of Kaufman's matches against Lawler are shown, as well as the numerous angry videos which Kaufman sent to Lawler in which Kaufman consults with his lawyer (the thinly-disguised Bob Zmuda), wrestles more women and makes fun of Lawler's accent ("Is theees the way yu talk in Memphis Mista Lawlaa, DHUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"). Magical stuff indeed.

Hollywood.. became a staple on the cable channel Comedy Central, and though the version on this disc is longer than the broadcast cut there is little difference between them beyond a few extended scenes. The transfer is in slightly better condition than Blassie's and the stereo soundtrack produces with excellent clarity the strange musical "chorus" which narrates the film at various points in between. As with Blassie selecting the highlighted Rhino logo gives you a promo, this time of Andy Kaufman videos.