Comic Andy Kaufman’s 4-F deferment for the draft concluded that Kaufman lived in a fantasy world, disconnected from reality, and if put in the military would “lose his mind”. He loved the letter and proudly displayed it as he had purposely treated his psych eval as a high-stakes joke.

The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Andy Kaufman

While Andy Kaufman was one of the most venerated comedians of the 20th century, it should be noted that he certainly never would have seen himself that way. As far as Kaufman was concerned, actually, he wasn’t a comedian at all. Comedians told jokes, which Kaufman argued he didn’t, preferring to classify himself as an “entertainer.”

One thing is for sure, though: Andy Kaufman was a true original, and while he inspired a generation of comics, there has never been anyone else like him. Whether you were introduced to Kaufman through stand-up, his performance as Latka Gravas on Taxi, or Jim Carrey’s loving depiction of him on Man in the Moon, there’s no disputing that the self-proclaimed entertainer was a raw onion that only got weirder the… Continue Reading (12 minute read)

8 thoughts on “Comic Andy Kaufman’s 4-F deferment for the draft concluded that Kaufman lived in a fantasy world, disconnected from reality, and if put in the military would “lose his mind”. He loved the letter and proudly displayed it as he had purposely treated his psych eval as a high-stakes joke.”

  1. wjbc

    Arlo Guthrie had a similar experience — he was rejected because he had a criminal record of littering — and turned it into a 18-minute song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

  2. TorgoLebowski

    “treated his ~~psych eval~~ life as a high-stakes joke.”

  3. WTFwhatthehell

    Richard Feynman, the nobel winning physicist has an even better one.

    He just answered all the questions truthfully.

    >”Who do you work for, Dick?” says the psychiatrist, smiling again. “General Electric.”

    >”Do you like your work, Dick?” he says, with that same big smile on his face.

    >”So-so.” I just wasn’t going to have anything to do with him.

    >Three nice questions, and then the fourth one is completely different. “Do you think people talk about you?” he asks, in a low, serious tone.

    >I light up and say, “Sure! When I go home, my mother often tells me how she was telling her friends about me.” He isn’t listening to the explanation; instead, he’s writing something down on my paper.

    >Then again, in a low, serious tone, he says, “Do you think people stare at you?”

    >I’m all ready to say no, when he says, “For instance, do you think any of the boys waiting on the benches are staring at you now?”

    >While I had been waiting to talk to the psychiatrist, I had noticed there were about twelve guys on the benches waiting for the three psychiatrists, and they’ve got nothing else to look at, so I divide twelve by three — that makes four each — but I’m conservative, so I say, “Yeah, maybe two of them are looking at us.”

    >He says, “Well just turn around and look” — and he’s not even bothering to look himself!

    >So I turn around, and sure enough, two guys are looking. So I point to them and I say, “Yeah — there’s that guy, and that guy over there looking at us.” Of course, when I’m turned around and pointing like that, other guys start to look at us, so I say, “Now him, and those two over there — and now the whole bunch.” He still doesn’t look up to check. He’s busy writing more things on my paper.

    >Then he says, “Do you ever hear voices in your head?”

    >”Very rarely,” and I’m about to describe the two occasions on which it happened when he says, “Do you talk to yourself?”

    >”Yeah, sometimes when I’m shaving, or thinking; once in a while.” He’s writing down more stuff.

    >”I see you have a deceased wife — do you talk to her?”

    >This question really annoyed me, but I contained myself and said, “Sometimes, when I go up on a mountain and I’m thinking about her.”

    >More writing. Then he asks, “Is anyone in your family in a mental institution?”

    >”Yeah, I have an aunt in an insane asylum.”

    >”Why do you call it an insane asylum?” he says, resentfully. “Why don’t you call it a mental institution?”

    >”I thought it was the same thing.”

    ….

    >After a while I was called over to a different desk to see another psychiatrist. While the first psychiatrist had been rather young and innocent-looking, this one was gray-haired and distinguished-looking — obviously the superior psychiatrist. I figure all of this is now going to get straightened out”

    >While I’m waiting in the line, I look at the paper which has the summary of all the tests I’ve taken so far. And just for the hell of it I show my paper to the guy next to me, and I ask him in a rather stupid-sounding voice, “Hey! What did you get in ‘Psychiatric’? Oh! You got an ‘N.’ I got an ‘N’ in everything else, but I got a ‘D’ in ‘Psychiatric.’ What does that mean?” I knew what it meant: “N” is normal, “D” is deficient.

    >The guy pats me on the shoulder and says, “Buddy, it’s perfectly all right. It doesn’t mean anything. Don’t worry about it!” Then he walks way over to the other corner of the room, frightened: It’s a lunatic!

    >I started looking at the papers the psychiatrists had written, and it looked pretty serious! The first guy wrote:

    >Thinks people talk about him.

    >Thinks people stare at him.

    >Auditory hypnogogic hallucinations.

    >Talks to self.

    >Talks to deceased wife.

    >Maternal aunt in mental institution.

    >Very peculiar stare. (I knew what that was — that was when I said, “And this is medicine?”)

    >The second psychiatrist was obviously more important, because his scribble was harder to read. His notes said things like “auditory hypnogogic hallucinations confirmed.” (“Hypnogogic” means you get them while you’re falling asleep.)

    >He wrote a lot of other technical-sounding notes, and I looked them over, and they looked pretty bad. I figured I’d have to get all of this straightened out with the army somehow.

    >At the end of the whole physical examination there’s an army officer who decides whether you’re in or you’re out. For instance, if there’s something the matter with your hearing, he has to decide if it’s serious enough to keep you out of the army. And because the army was scraping the bottom of the barrel for new recruits, this officer wasn’t going to take anything from anybody. He was tough as nails. For instance, the fellow ahead of me had two bones sticking out from the back of his neck — some kind of displaced vertebra, or something — and this army officer had to get up from his desk and feel them — he had to make sure they were real!

    >I figure this is the place I’ll get this whole misunderstanding straightened out. When it’s my turn, I hand my papers to the officer, and I’m ready to explain everything, but the officer doesn’t look up. He sees the “D” next to “Psychiatric,” immediately reaches for the rejection stamp, doesn’t ask me any questions, doesn’t say anything; he just stamps my papers “REJECTED,” and hands me my 4-F paper, still looking at his desk

  4. Noulbot

    Anyone else remember that site, andykaufmanlives or something like that? I remember finding it like 10ish years ago with these weird photos and theories and this KING person putting it all together. What was that?

  5. Blue_foot

    The Army Psych evaluation was spot-on.

  6. iwascompromised

    Klinger obviously just didn’t try hard enough!

  7. DankNastyAssMaster

    Being declared mentally unstable because you don’t want to go die in a warzone is literally the plot of Catch 22.

  8. AKADriver

    Anyone crazy enough to get out of being drafted must be sane enough to be drafted.

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