Before They Were Stars: Michael Richards Scuffles with Andy Kaufman on “Fridays”

Two days ago, I posted a “Robin’s Underrated Gems” column on the Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon, so I think it’s only appropriate that I post the actual real-life footage of an incident that was reenacted in the film. Fridays was a late-night live sketch comedy show that aired on ABC for three seasons in the early eighties and was intended as an alternative to Saturday Night Live. One of the cast members on the show just happened to be a young, unknown Michael Richards. Anyway, Andy Kaufman was the guest host for an episode in 1981 and in one infamous sketch, he decided to break character and refused to say his lines, prompting Richards to grab the cue cards and drop them on the table in front of him. This eventually lead to a brawl breaking out on live TV before the show abruptly cut to commercial, but of course, this was all a staged practical joke dreamed up by Kaufman, and Richards has always claimed he was in on it from the start. In Man on the Moon, it was weird to see ths scene recreated with Norm Macdonald playing the role of Michael Richards! This scene also provides a bit of a “Before They Were Stars” moment in itself as you can see future 24 star Mary Lynn Rajskub playing one of the other Fridays cast members.

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