My Breakfast With Blassie

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Linda Lautrec

REVIEWED: 10-26-98

The marriage between food and flicks has been a fruitful relationship for those keen folks over at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre. In fact, it's been so fruitful, on sold out nights, I find myself having to improvise. And while the following food-themed movies don't appear on the AFI's top 100 list, they may stave off your hunger pains until the next screening of Metropolis ...

Andy Kaufman was a decidedly strange egg. In the same breath, he might elicit laughter, disgust, and confusion. His humor was a cup of black coffee dripping with the darkest of demons -- no cream, hold the sugar. This bulb-eyed, pasty, white-faced kid from Great Neck, New York fired hardballs at every pitch. And he burned a lot of tongues and bridges along the way. Of course that was part of Kaufman's allure, the way that neighborhood kids simultaneously despise and look up to the school yard bully. It was Andy's uneven temperament that defined his personal blend, a man whose varied occupations -- actor, wrestler, comedian -- reflected the way he grappled with life, a constant tug-of-war between laughter and pain. Some viewed him as a dadaist performance artist, but most knew him as the ever-lovable Latka Gravas from TV's Taxi ("Dank you veddy much"). But there was another side to Andy, an alter face that bleeds through without remorse in My Breakfast With Blassie.

Staged as a kind of goof on My Dinner With Andre, we find Kaufman and the ill-mannered former WWF champ Fred Blassie dining over a fine meal of cottage cheese and super-ego in a Los Angeles-area Sambo's. A rare site indeed, Kaufman humbles himself before Blassie, begging career advice while discussing the intricacies of personal hygiene, beating up women, and the advantage of filing your teeth to razor sharp points. Ironically, this 60-minute word buffet is ultimately more pitiable that humorous. By the time the check is delivered, Kaufman is on the verge of blows with the patrons at the table next to him, annoyed beyond control over their want for an autograph. He towers over four would-be women foes, a Bizzaro Superman ready to discharge lasers from his bulging eyes. Spittle flies from his pursed lips as he shrieks: "Do you know who I am!? Do you know who I am!?" Sure they do. But they're not impressed. And against their apathy, Kaufman finds himself pinned for the count. Slowly, he slumps back into his vinyl-upholstered chair, defeated by the opponent he could never best -- himself.

--Marcel Meyer

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