CNN Profiles The Famed Lawler vs Andy Kauffman Feud

Nick Paglino

The front page of CNN.com has a retrospective article written by Wayne Drash profiling the famed Andy Kaufman vs Jerry The King Lawler feud, which took place 30 years ago. The following is an excerpt, and you can check out more by clicking on the above link.

On this April night 30 years ago, the New York native worked fans inside the Mid-South Coliseum into a chaotic frenzy. In a river town notorious for its rough-and-tumble roots, the coliseum was crammed with the rowdiest characters Memphis had to offer.

The place reeked of Jack Daniels, Marlboro and Skoal. So dangerous was the crowd that one wrestler carried a shank at all times after being stabbed by a fan.

Long before comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat hit the screen, there was Kaufman, the comedic genius with wiry hair and bulging eyes who pushed the envelope of performance art on a real-time stage. And the whole wrestling episode — inside the ring and out — was performance art at its peak. For Kaufman, the fact that so few people caught on made it all the better.

"The reason he's still remembered is he took that idea of being a despicable bad guy and he took it to a whole new level," says Bob Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University.

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