1. James Lipton wanted Jim Carrey from the very beginning, 17 years ago, extending his first invitation to Carrey. But he only showed up this week for a sit-down on Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio.
So. What else did we learn about him now that we didn't learn then?
2. He knows how to make an entrance. Or, he knows to always open big. Also could have accepted he likes to jog across the stage, and if he sees stairs, he'll climb them to wave to the already-standing crowd, notice the big screen behind him and pet it gently.
3. He didn't know that the original more French Canadian version of his family name means "square." "Does it really?" "Yes, what a misnomer!" "Wow. I didn't know that. Fantastic."
4. In school, he was so much of a class clown, that one teacher figured out how to channel his energies by giving him an incentive: If he focused on schoolwork and didn't disrupt others, she'd give him 15 minutes at the end of the day to perform. "So I spent all my free time coming up with routines, and impressions of the principal, and I would make fun of people."
5. His father lost his job at 51, when Jim was 12. And the family lived in a car briefly and became janitors.
6. He left school on his 16th birthday and "I immediately went to a comedy club." He said he failed so bad they went on the mic and bellowed "totally boring" at the Toronto Yuk Yuk's. He said the same thing happened when he attempted The Comedy Store at 19. "I thought I was going to be the man of a thousand faces. I got up to 150." He does James Dean. And now James Dean on botox. He showed that Fire Marshal Bill, his famous In Living Color, did not require much makeup, folding his upper lip and contorting his face immediately to show how he did it.
7. Speaking of faces, here he is in an online-only video talking about how mere subtle changes to his face resulted in dramatic differences for some of his onscreen characters.
After I published my interview this week with Tony Clifton, Andy Kaufman sent me a message asking me to share with you Jim Carrey's audition tape that he submitted to get the part of Kaufman in the 1999 film, Man on the Moon. OK, so it was Andy Kaufman's Twitter handle who reached out to me, which could mean just about anything or anyone was responsible. But the audition footage is unmistakably real, and fascinating to watch, even before Carrey's amazing onscreen performance, how badly he wanted to play this part. Roll the clip!
Related: Jim Carrey may be part of Tony Clifton's performance Sunday night at The Comedy Store to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Comic Relief, and Tony Clifton talked to me all about it.
If you already know about the legend of the "late" Andy Kaufman, his comedy partner, Bob Zmuda, and his other comedy foil, Tony Clifton, then I need not explain further.
Let me say this. Twenty-five years ago this Sunday, May 16, Tony Clifton made his first appearance after the death of Kaufman onstage at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, Calif., and that benefit show was the genesis for what would become Zmuda's great all-star comedy nonprofit mission known as Comic Relief. To celebrate this anniversary, Clifton is returning to the same Comedy Store stage on Sunday for the first of four special shows with his band and burlesque dancers (they'll also be performing there May 19-21).
I spoke to him in a no-holds-barred, exclusive exchange that, despite his best efforts, I can assure you will not be seen elsewhere. But first, if you need catching up, here is the 2009 tour promo clip for Tony Clifton's show. Roll it.
OK. Ready? Cue Tony Clifton! First he explains the reason for his homecoming:
"At the end of 'Man on the Moon,' Kaufman supposedly dies, and then the screen goes to black, they got him in his casket. A little card comes up that says one year later, and then the screen comes alive again, and I'm coming out of a limo and walking into The Comedy Store, and singing 'I Will Survive'...we actually shot this at the real Comedy Store. They show Paul Giamatti sitting in the audience, and you thought it was him."
But no. It was Clifton.
What's this I hear about Jim Carrey performing as one of four people portraying Tony Clifton? "Jim Carrey, who plays Andy in the movie, he has the same birthday as Andy. He was in the room that night in The Comedy Store 26 years ago. And his wife at the time was a waitress at The Comedy Store...he might come in and try to do his Andy Kaufman impression, but he ain't going to do me. You know that movie would have been better if it had been 'Tony on the Moon.'"
Alrighty then. What have you learned since your big concert tour of 2008? "Now the show is even bigger. I got more musicians. I got more hot dancing whores. I got my adopted girl, Keely. I'm teaching her how to grow. I'm teaching her hygiene. I'm teaching her how to keep herself clean down there."
In a rare moment, he also told me how he appreciates my efforts to give comedy its due. "You know now, you want to become President of the United States, you have to go on Letterman, you go on Leno, and still people will not give it to the comedians. But I think that's going to shift. So I think what you got going on is a good thing."
Then he expanded upon his answer to my earlier question. "What I learned was this. When I went out on the road, I didn't know what to expect, I thought there might be old farts who watched me on Saturday Night Live. But 85-90 percent of my audience is probably male, between the ages of 21 and 30. So I was surprised to do that, and kind of shocked. I think a lot of that has to dow with the movie, 'Man on the Moon.' So Jim Carrey has brought a lot of attention to me and Andy Kaufman. And we rock on. We put on a show! We don't just go on and tell stupid jokes."
Which, of course, means stupid jokes are about to come out of his mouth at any and all moments.
If you were to tell me that Saturday Night Live would gather up all of its grand presidential impersonators for a one-time reunion, then I'd remind you that Phil Hartman is dead, and stop playing me. But you kept at it, and told me, hey, what if we got Jim Carrey to play the ghost of Ronald Reagan with a dash of Ace Ventura, then I'd go, oh, really, well, which SNL is this going to be on?
Oh, it's not on SNL. It's on Funny or Die. OK. Ready for the viral video action! Wait. This is a PSA? Or as you kids call it, a public service announcement. For the banking crisis. Directed by Ron "used to be Opie or Richie Cunningham if you're an older person, and just another big movie director if you're a kid" Howard. For real this time. If you think SNL's political "cold open" sketches are weirdly too focused on making points, then full speed ahead into the danger zone. At least Dan Aykroyd looks more like Jimmy Carter a generation later (can you believe Aykroyd pretended to be Carter with a mustache on live TV?), as does Chevy Chase as the late Gerald Ford. As for Dana Carvey as Bush 41, Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton, Will Ferrell as W., Fred Armisen as Barack Obama and Maya Rudolph as Michelle Obama, well, you're not going to see anything here you haven't seen before. Just all of them together in a room. Isn't that special? Roll the clips.
There's also a behind-the-scenes video, if you need to see how and where the magic happens. Which means bloopers and jokes. You like bloopers and jokes.
If you want to attain a more natural high, just go back in time and remember when you and your favorite comedians were younger, back before they were famous. First up, Sarah Silverman shares with us this photo that shows her and her pals, circa 1993: Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Attell, and Dave Juskow.
And if you think that's something, then please check out this rare footage of a young Jim Carrey, circa mid-1980s (Brezhney, My Three Sons and E.T.?), performing five minutes of facial impersonations for a crowd at The Comedy Store that had no idea what they were seeing.
Oh, to be a young comedian again. Happy days.