Poor Joaquin Phoenix. He so clearly wants to be Andy Kaufman, which I get. What could be cooler than to be the guy who was so good at assuming a hilarious and incendiary character that people have only recently begun to get the joke? A man so skilled and committed that people still question his death?
So, yes, I understand why a young and talented actor might want to be just like him. Still, it’s kind of sad that he missed the point: It’s no longer original, son. So people are going to be hep to your ruse. Which makes you look less like a genius and more like a derivative wannabe.
So, let’s go down the checklist:
1. Create a character.
2. Name a bizarre career change.
3. Never appear out of character.
4. Make David Letterman uncomfortable.
The next step in the Andy-Kaufman-as-the-provacateur mold, obviously, is to be more provocative. Ever the faithful follower, Phoenix just picked a fight with a heckler in his audience.
I wish Joaquin had stuck with his old trick of fucking with reporters. That “frog” bit was classic.