I met Bob Zmuda yesterday at a gallery show featuring letters and artifacts from the life of Andy Kaufman. Bob was Andy’s writing partner. Part of the concept of the show is that each day a member of Andy’s “inner circle” is in the gallery sitting at a table, and you’re encouraged to sit and chat with them.
It was an absolute thrill to meet Bob. His book, Andy Kaufman Revealed, was one of the main inspirations for Improv Everywhere. My buddy Ken Keech gave me a copy in college, and it was definitely a life-changing book for me. I’ve enjoyed pranks my entire life, but this book opened my eyes as to what was possible. Bob and Andy pulled off pranks that were both meticulously planned and largely improvised. One stunt in the book was the direct inspiration for our old Amazing Hypnotist prank. We pretty much copied it beat for beat.
So it was really exciting to get to meet Bob in person and thank him. We chatted about his adventures with Andy, and I shared a few stories of Improv Everywhere’s greatest hits. He signed my book (“Charlie, Keep them guessing!! - Bob Zumda”) and then disappeared for a few minutes. When he returned, Tony Clifton had signed the book as well! (“Charlie, Go fuck yourself!! - Tony Clifton”)
I gave him a copy of Causing a Scene, and thanked him again for all the inspiration.