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Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  581 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
From renowned journalist Bill Zehme, author of the New York Times bestselling The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin', comes the first full-fledged biography and the only complete story of the late comic genius Andy Kaufman. Based on six years of research, Andy's own unpublished, never-before-seen writings, and hundreds of interviews with family ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published November 4th 2009 by Delta (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan 14, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
biographies are generally straight forward research bits. not so much here. takes a while to get inside the voice, but he genuinely tries to get as close to kaufman's head as possible. makes kaufman an interesting construct, allows you to hate and love him, shifts time forward and backward to the point where you're not sure where you are in the timeline...and ultimately i shed some subway tears as he recounted his death.

still leaves me with questions: how did people not like tony clifton (brill
Dustin Reade
May 04, 2011 Dustin Reade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome bio. Unlike other bios, which usually read like lists of accomplishments, this one utilizes a unique style, which flips from strangely poetic, to somewht remorseful, to the calm, detached voice of journalism. Great descriptions of Andy's early career, and some interesting stories about the birth of his most memorable material. A great book and a must for anyone fascinated with this incredible artist.
Collin O'Donnell
May 28, 2016 Collin O'Donnell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
"Here was a gauntlet thrown and a madness born - to sort and sift through a life of fantasy, but also a life on earth, and locate truths wherever truths had been sent to hide."

It's no coincidence that Lost in the Funhouse takes its name from John Barth's famously metafictional postmodern short story collection. Andy was an enigma to almost everyone that knew him, more of a schizophrenic collection of characters (that all represented some facet of his emotional defense system) than anything concr
Aug 17, 2009 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to sometimes wonder whether Andy Kaufman was truly crazy, or if some part was really just an act. Its nice to have closure on this little nagging question.
Carlos Aguirre
Jul 25, 2013 Carlos Aguirre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting tale and interestingly told about a very eccentric man. I never saw Man on the Moon and never wanted to. I'm not a Jim Carrey fan at all and would rather watch clips of Andy himself rather than watch someone try to ape him, which is impossible and unnecessary. Once again, clips of the man are out there on the Internet and elsewhere. Anyway, for anyone that wants to get a glimpse of the mind behind the madness, this seems to be the path to "enlightenment". Enlightenment being somethin ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of the absurd
Bill Zehme does an amazing job of using form to enhance meaning in this simultaneously hilarious and sobering biography. He adopts different Kaufman personae/speech patterns to help tell the story, which helps the reader connect with Andy's scattered head space.

I was only marginally familiar with AK's work prior to reading this, but I was frequently laughing out loud regardless. And it led me to a bit of an Andy Kaufman obsession--the day after I finished the book I spent several hours scouring
Doug Brunell
Jun 23, 2015 Doug Brunell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Far from the standard biography, this is written in such a way as to get you as close to Kaufman as possible ... or one of his many variations.

And it works.

Kaufman fascinated me as a child. His manipulation of reality and the public's reaction to it is something that interests me (and influences me, if truth be told). Bill Zehme's book helps explain how and why it happened. It is about as close as one can get to him, too.

If you missed the excitement that was Kaufman, this will help fill you in.
Jan 17, 2009 Tabitha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Generally when I read a biography, I feel a little distance from the subject of the book, perhaps a little coldness as I watch their life replayed for me. This book wasn't even remotely like that. I was thrilled when after the first few pages I could hear Andy Kaufman describing his life.
It's a really odd style choice, to write with the mannerisms of your subject, but constantly remind your audience that you're not him. I'm not sure too many authors/biographers could pull it off, but Bill Zehme
Feb 01, 2015 Pim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
to be honest, i wasn't really sure to expect of this book. none of the kaufman books seems to be the authoritative one, or so i think.

but this is not only - very likely - the best book about andy kaufman, it's one of the best biographies i've ever read. it's really well-written, funny, insightful - and zehme manages the balance between fandom and critical analysis really well. i would definitely read more of his. highly recommended.
Written from Kaufman's point of view, I was brought into his world, from childhood to his death. Though we may never totally understand what he did, I have a better understanding of his artistic progression and what made him get into certain areas (the wrestling thing is obvious to me!). He was a trickster in a way, and a lunatic to be sure, but I admire his commitment to being himself behind many many layers of characters and insanity. Brilliant.
Nicole Cushing
Jan 31, 2010 Nicole Cushing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about Zehme's book is its encyclopedic level of detail. While that got a little tiresome in the early going (I could have used LESS detail about Andy's childhood), it was an approach that really worked well once it got into Andy's career.

The author takes a "creative nonfiction" stylistic tone that wears a little thin in places, but it doesn't detract much from my overall opinion of this book as the go-to resource for all things Andy.
John G.
Jul 24, 2016 John G. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorology
Definitely one of the best comic biographies I've ever read. Really gets into the head of a very unique, bizarre and complicated man and artist. This man was fearless and truly original who never pandered to his audience. Interesting exportation into creativity, comedy, performance, and pushing the envelope! Kaufman was one of a kind and this book does his life and art Justice, a work of art in interlude.
Aug 13, 2007 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2006
Andy Kaufman is one of my heroes. I absolutely loved him when he was alive and still cherish his zany ways. In a perfect world I think he's still out there, pulling a death hoax on us ...this book makes me dream that dream even moreso as it tells the life of Kaufman more even handed and less bias that the Zmuda biography that is also out there...this is the better of the two Kaufman biographies.
Jay Wigley
Jun 14, 2012 Jay Wigley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a joy--Bill Zehme amazingly writes in what you'd imagine would be the style of Andy Kaufman, if Andy could connect a pen directly to his brain. This is what a biography should be--thoroughly researched, based on evidence and interviews and scene-setting for the distant past. You'll love it if you are interested at all in 1970's television and comedy culture in the United States.
Dec 13, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an entertaining bio of Andy Kaufman although I think some of what made it into this book is probably a figment of the authors imagination because I don't think even those who were closest to Kaufman really knew what was going on inside his head. Fun to read, great stuff about Kaufmans legendary bizarre work, life and habits. Kaufman was a true original.
Mar 29, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Must read for any Andy Kaufman fan of the most extreme unique humor. As his 2nd personality Tony Clifton during a live performance would warn an old lady as he stood next to hear at her dinner table at his show and say she sat in cottage cheese to only correct himself immediately after by saying it was her ass instead. Andy Kaufman was the King of insults.
Sep 17, 2007 Vittorio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andy was not a mere comedian but a brilliant performance artist. The book adds some insight into his psyche and recounts some of his monumental Keith Moon worthy pranks. Man on the Moon is also worth seeing.
Sep 17, 2007 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Andy Kaufman, and people who like crazies
Nothing else to say. He was very much crazy and very much a sex addict. He was funny for a while, then he started screwing with peoples minds. Didn't know there was so much information about Kaufman. Recommended for anyone who liked Andy Kaufman, but didn't like Man on the Moon at all.
Feb 03, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: show-business
An offbeat book about an offbeat guy, but pretty interesting and entertaining, especially for those who are old enough to remember Andy Kaufman's odd career. The first couple of chapters are a little too quirky for my taste. Stick with it, though. It gets better.
David Ward
Feb 05, 2010 David Ward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, biography, art
Lost In the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman by Bill Zehme (Delcorte Press 1999) (Biography). The author did six years of research on the life of a man who practiced the art of deception professionally. It makes for a cool story. Good one. 7/10, finished 2006.
Dec 13, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unbelievably good! There's so much to be learned about Andy from reading this. The writing style is very different for a bio.
Shawn  Perry
Jun 05, 2008 Shawn Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A biography of the late actor/comedian/performance artist Andy Kaufman. Funny, scary, and moving. If this weren't true there's no way anyone would believe that any of it had actually happened.
Aug 08, 2008 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember anything about this book
Oct 12, 2013 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That this book has stuck in my mind for the years since reading it is testament to how interesting it was to me. What a misunderstood genius you were, Andy Kaufman.
Jan 17, 2008 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The perfect Andy Kaufman reader. It was disjointed, zany and full of weird and useless information. I loved it, being the enormous AK fan that I am. Not for the faint of heart, or short of temper.
Jul 14, 2012 Mcd74 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biog-1
A great overview but not the easiest/smoothest of reads for a biog, the insights into to Tony Clifton (alter ego) could have been more elaborated. But a must for any Kaufman fan.
Mar 06, 2013 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the style of this book is a little annoying at first but it's ok once you get used to it, and it's very good to read about Andy Kaufman's life because he was an important artist and a genius.
Greg Scott
Nov 08, 2014 Greg Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tom rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2013
Will rated it liked it
Aug 11, 2015
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