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Classic Episodes: Taxi – Latka the Playboy

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Classic sitcom Taxi had plenty of eccentric characters but none probably more so than Latka. Poor Latka — sick and tired of being the lovable, but lonely, grease monkey at the Sunshine Cab Co. All he wants is to become “an American fun guy taking each day in high gear” — which for him would require inventing a whole new type of transmission.

And that’s just what he does. Laden with copies of Playboy and a tape of a smooth-talking FM DJ, Latka (Andy Kaufman) goes off “to alter my lifestyle to fit the fast lane.” He returns with a flashy new lounge-lizard alter ego: Vic Ferrari — slick, suave, oversexed, and beyond obnoxious.

Showing off Kaufman’s genius for utilizing multiple personalities (Latka started out as Foreign Man, one of Kaufman’s uncanny comedy-club guises), “Latka the Playboy” was an inventive, outrageous episode that led to equally imaginative sequels — and even more splintering of Latka’s breakaway ego.

Sharp-eyed viewers will notice a pre-Cheers George Wendt in a bit part as an exterminator in this wonderful episode.

Original Airdate: May 21, 1981

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