Foreign Man

Foreign Man Beginnings

Where did it begin? One school of thought is that Andy wanted to create the sweetest, most innocent character. Another school, currently attended by only one, but accepting applications for enrollment for a limited time, says that it was a creation to propagate the illusion that Andy was so brave, when in fact he was not brave. Rather, Andy did not want rejection, and Foreign Man was his safety net.

If the reaction to Foreign Man was that it was not funny, Andy could escape the ridicule, unharmed, by stating that it wasn’t supposed to be funny. One of foreign man’s best skits, was when he intentionally told jokes, if one could even refer to them as such, that he knew would bomb. He starts crying at his failure to be funny. He then provides the payoff of crying rhythmically to the beat of his adeptly executed conga drum playing.

Regardless of whether Andy used the inept, “just off the boat” Foreign Man character to show sweetness or to protect himself from failure, it provided an incredible impact when Foreign Man impersonated Elvis Presley.  

Not only was Andy Elvis’s favorite impersonator, Foreign Man became the character, Latka Gravas, for one of the greatest sitcoms, Taxi.

Like most things that Andy did, it involved family. Spending hours and hours and hours “being” Foreign Man in the kitchen of his parent’s house with his baby sister, so that when he brought it to stage it was natural. The famous pink jacket, most frequently worn by Foreign Man, was a hand-me-down from his father Stanley. The mock shirt, which Andy had rigged to be able to tear off, with the use of Velcro, was originally a shirt used by his father to dress for work. Tearing off the shirt was part of the transformation from Foreign Man to Elvis.

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