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Andy Kaufman as Foreign Man/Elvis Presley on SNL 1-15-1977

NOTE: Andy Kaufman did his Foreign Man character turning into Elvis Presley on Saturday Night Live in January of 1977.  At the time, Elvis Presley still had another six months to live and he was at a relative low point in popularity, and had not spawned legions of impersonators.  This was also a year and half before the premiere of the Taxi series, in which the Foreign Man character got fleshed out to become Latka Gravas and make Kaufman rich and famous.

Ralph Nader: Ladies and gentlemen, Andy Kaufman.

[Applause and squeals of delight. A spotlight finds Kaufman as he enters, in character as Foreign Man, carrying a suitcase and wearing a pale pink jacket, white shirt, necktie, dark pants and shoes. A band of musicians stands in the background. A microphone stand and a stool await him at home base. He places the suitcase on the stool and opens it, making sure that it is centered on the stool properly, then turns and walks directly to the microphone. He hesitates for a moment, then speaks quietly and awkwardly with an odd, high-pitched accent.]

Foreign Man: There was two penguins on de piece of ice. And they love each other very much. So, eh, one - one day de ice is broken. [By now, the lights have gone down - Foreign Man is now spotlit on a darkened stage] And so the two penguins cry -- they are crying -- because they never to see each other again. So they go away, you know, away from each other. And one day, they-- to see each other. So they get closer and closer. And one of them say: [holds his nose, imitates a penguin incomprehensibly -- but it sounds like he's saying something like:] "Big Boy for dinner." [returns to his "Foreign Man" voice] You know? Because they never see each other again! [looks at audience happily as if expecting them to laugh] Thenk you veddy much. [Applause. Foreign Man bows to the audience.]

Right now, I would like to do some eemitations for you. So, first, I would like to imitate Meester Carter, de President of de United States. [in the same voice] "Hello, I am Meester Carter, de President of de United States." Thenk you veddy much. [Applause. Foreign Man bows to the audience.] Thenk you veddy much.

Now, I would like to imitate, eh, my, eh, Aunt Esther. [in the same voice] "You come into the house right now! Put - put on your coat and - and eat everything is on your plate!" Thenk you veddy much. [Applause. Foreign Man bows to the audience.]

And now, last -- but not to be the least -- I will - would like to imitate the Elvis Presley.

[Scattered applause and cheers as Kaufman steps away from the microphone and turns his back to the audience. We hear the music of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" -- also known as the Theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- which opened most Elvis concerts of the 1970s. Kaufman removes two dark strips from his pants to reveal studded rhinestones running up and down the outer legs. He puts the strips in the open suitcase beside him. He removes his necktie and false shirt front and dumps them in the suitcase. He takes off his pink jacket to reveal that he is wearing a black Elvis-style jumpsuit with a bejeweled vest. He places the jacket in the suitcase and takes out a comb with which he styles his hair. He returns the comb and takes out a hair brush. More grooming. He returns the brush and uses the comb again. Another spotlight has come up and we catch a glimpse of an acoustic guitar standing ready at one side (opposite the suitcase). Kaufman returns the comb to the suitcase, grabs the guitar and straps it on as a heavenly light shines down from above and the 2001 Theme reaches its climax. Kaufman adjusts his wide white collar.

The theme ends and the thundering drumbeat that usually heralded Presley's entrance at 1970s concerts comes crashing in. We see a close-up of the back of Kaufman's head. He starts shaking to the rhythm. He turns his face to the camera -- a classic Elvis sneer on his lips. Applause and laughter. Kaufman is in full Elvis mode as he turns around completely, shaking his legs, waving to the audience (some of whom are shrieking), prowling the stage lasciviously. All trace of Foreign Man has vanished. Elvis bows, poses provocatively with the guitar, approaches the microphone and starts pumping it in time with the music, sneering and making other "Elvis faces" until the music ends. Elvis bows to much applause. When the applause dies down, Elvis pauses and then leans into the microphone.]

Elvis: [imitation of Presley's deep-throated drawl] Thank you very much.

[With a nod of his head, Elvis signals to the band behind him. The pianist plays and Elvis sings his 1956 hit ballad "Love Me" -- words and music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller -- and the rest of the band joins in.]

Treat me like a fool
Treat me mean and cruel
But love me
Wring my faithful heart
Tear it all apart
But love me

[Hiccups, Elvis-style. The crowd laughs.]

If you ever go
Darling, I'll be, oh, so lonely
I'll be sad and blue
Crying over you, dear only.

[Stutters, Elvis-style. The crowd laughs.]

I would beg and steal
Just to feel your heart
Beating close to mine

[Makes a funky Elvis move. The crowd laughs.]

If you ever go
Darling, I'll be, oh, so lonely
Beggin' on knees
All I ask is please, please love me
Oh yeah

[Cheers and applause. Band finishes song on Elvis' signal. Elvis removes guitar and poses with it, arms outstretched, then places guitar back on its stand, lifts arms and wiggles his hips, and does a few more goofy Elvis poses before speaking into the microphone.]

Elvis: All right, thank you very much. You can all just stare at me while I catch my breath. I'd like to do one of my biggest records for you. Course, all of them are the same size. One of the first songs I ever recorded, back in nineteen ... twenty-seven, I think it was. Went somethin' like this. [leg starts shaking, looks down at leg] Wait a minute, wait a minute. [lip starts twitching] Somethin' wrong with my lip. [lip twitches into a sneer, Elvis suddenly launches into his 1956 hit rocker "Blue Suede Shoes" -- words and music by Carl Perkins.]

Well, it's one for the money
Two for the show

[Elvis takes his microphone off the stand, sets the stand to one side of stage - the crowd claps along to the beat.]

Three to get ready
Now go, cat, go
But don't you
Step on my blue suede shoes
Well, you can do anything
But lay off of my blue suede shoes

Let's go, cats!

[Band plays instrumental break, Elvis dances around the stage, women in crowd shriek]

It's one for the money
Two for the show
Three to get ready
Now go, go, go
But don't you step on my blue suede shoes
Well, you can do anything But lay off of my blue suede shoes

Well, it's a blue blue blue suede shoes
Blue blue blue suede shoes
Blue blue blue suede shoes
Blue blue blue suede shoes
You can do anything
But lay off of my blue suede shoes.

All right!

[Applause. Elvis jumps up and down, windmilling his arm. The band crashes to a halt as he goes down on one knee. Elvis rises, acknowledges the applause, cheers, whistles, returns the microphone to its stand, raises both arms and makes the "I Love You" sign with his hands, then whips off his bejeweled vest, whirls it around his head and tosses it to the crowd. Then he returns the mike stand to center stage, adjusts the mike, licks his lips, slightly out of breath. And, astonishingly, reverts completely to Foreign Man:]

Foreign Man: [hesitantly] Thenk you veddy much. [huge gust of laughter and applause from the startled audience - after a pause, very politely] Could I please have my - my thing back?

[Foreign Man walks to edge of stage and awkwardly tries to retrieve his vest. Someone hands it to him and he backs away nervously, acknowledging the applause as we fade out.]















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