Tallulah, I totally agree that Kaufman was probably more a performance artist than a traditional comedian. I still struggle with whether he dealt in bad faith with the audience though. It's funny to me in retrospect, but I didn't buy a ticket. I suppose you have a point when you say as a fan of his, it's probably the kind of thing you would admire.
As for the second question, I'm not sure I was clear. I wasn't referring to the audience knowingly watching me sing sincerely and poorly...I agree that it's not funny if the audience doesn't know you're in on the joke. I was referring to a situation in which a skit may include a character that is a bad lounge singer or maybe a skit that includes karaoke singing. I wondered what to make of the decision to sincerely try to sing well in that skit, knowing that you are an awful singer and that your efforts would feel more genuine than mimicking a bad singer. As I type it a second time, I really think that the question is moot. The audience will never know which way you're doing it, and as long as they laugh I guess it's valid.
And you don't get to cite lack of sleep as an excuse...I never went to bed last night!
I'd like to respond to this! Even though it's old.
I think that if you're doing a comedy skit, anything contained within is assumed to be a joke. So if you genuinely just sing how you would normally sing, knowing you suck, I think people will just assume you either a) tried to sound terrible, or b) actually are terrible and are laughing at yourself and being self-deprecating. I don't think they'll KNOW which it is unless you really exaggerate how poorly you're doing. And I think that the more true-to-life the singing mistakes are, i.e. the more authentic, the funnier it might be. I guess I don't see a difference between pretending to suck and actually sucking; the intent is self-deprecation or satire of people who actually do suck, either way. I find self-deprecation to be one of the easiest forms of humor for me, and I think it can be one of the most surprising and funny.
They're running just like you
For you, and I, wooo
So people, people, need some good ol' love