The Andy Kaufman Argument for the Resurrection

by Jason Wisdom

In class today, I randomly stumbled into using Andy Kaufman as an example of why I am not persuaded by two of the most common naturalistic explanations for the facts surrounding the death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth. Today we looked at the swoon theory and stolen body theory. For those who are not familiar with Andy Kaufman or either of these theories, I will attempt to give you a quick background. The swoon theory basically says that Jesus didn’t actually die, he simply passed out or went into a state that made him appear dead. Three days later, he came out of this state, and was able to escape the tomb, or else he was rescued by his disciples. The stolen body theory is fairly self explanatory. I think it is arguably the most intuitive explanation (not for all of the facts, but for the empty tomb by itself). If someone came up to me and said “his body is not in the tomb,” my first thought would be “someone must have stolen the body.” There are several problems with these as explanations, but for now, I am just going to explain why Andy Kaufman makes me question them.

Andy Kaufman was a famous/infamous American actor and performer during the 1970s and 80s. Jim Carey portrayed Kaufman in the movie Man on the Moon. Kaufman rejected the traditional concept of comedy in favor of an eccentric

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approach to entertainment. Kaufman personified the sort of humor that might now be called the “anti-joke.” He did things like publicly challenge women to wrestling matches–insulting them and making sexist comments in order to charge up the crowd. Kaufman also created a fictional character named Tony Clifton, a foul-mouthed, overweight, crowd abusing, washed-up, lounge singer, who began opening for Andy in comedy clubs. In his performance at Carnegie Hall, Kaufman had an elderly woman fake a heart attack on stage. At that point, he came out wearing an Native American headdress and danced around the woman’s body to revive her. Many times, it seemed that he was the only one who got the joke. When Kaufman died in 1984, it is no wonder that people suspected that he faked his death. There are actually people who still believe that Kaufman is alive, but is so committed to the hoax that he remains in hiding…

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