Danny DeVito Remembers When Andy Kaufman Wrestled A UPS Woman Outside A ‘Taxi’ Dressing Room
Working with Andy Kaufman on Taxi was “hysterical,” Danny DeVito told Dana Carvey and David Spade on this week’s edition of the Fly on the Wall podcast. Sure, there were the on-set hi-jinks, like Kaufman insisting that his Taxi contract include four appearances for his obnoxious alter-ego Tony Clifton. But it was oddball behind-the-scenes business that DeVito shared on the SNL nostalgia podcast.
DeVito and Kaufman had dressing rooms next to each other during those sitcom days, he recalled. “One day somebody was delivering a package and it was a woman,” DeVito said. “And (Andy) started yelling at her because she was, I don't know, UPS. Maybe it was the government, I don't know what the f*** it was. But she's walking in, she's got a uniform on. She's delivering a package to somebody and he tells her that she should be home (because) she's taking a man's job.”
Kaufman, now a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, was notorious around that time for challenging non-wrestlers to grappling matches. In particular, he liked to wrestle women — partly for the absurdity effect and possibly for more lascivious reasons. For Kaufman, controversy was nearly as good as comedy, and wrestling women sparked enough ire to inspire an entire book of hate letters devoted to the subject.
Backstage at Taxi, the UPS driver was pretty mad as well, enough so that Kaufman goaded her into a wrestling match. “I was there for that one. Wow. Right in the hallway,” remembers DeVito. “Both of 'em turning red, you know what I mean? Choke holds! We had to break them apart a couple of times.”
Spade offered that Kaufman couldn’t get away with that behavior in 2024, and DeVito acknowledged that it would play out differently. “If that was today, somebody would be out with a cell phone and the next thing you know, it would be online and people would comment about it. But I'll tell you, the woman that he was fighting was as big as he was,” he said. “And she did a good job, man. She had his ass down, big time.”
Other Kaufman antics during his Taxi days were less dramatic but no less bizarre, like working as a busboy in a deli while he was starring in one of America’s most popular sitcoms. “Judd (Hirsch) and I, we just one night went out and we knew he was working,” DeVito said. “We went and ate and had the conversations you would have with the busboy. Not Andy. Andy's nowhere around. He was the busboy. It was really great.”