Story: The premise here is simple, another courtroom show where people settle their cases not in a court of law, but with the help of a famous person. In the case of Stormy Justice, that famous person is lounge singer Tony Clifton, who now wields a gavel instead of a microphone. The folks step up in front of the bench, present their case, and the judge takes it all under careful consideration, then makes a fair and just decision. Or at least that’s how it is supposed to go, though with Tony Clifton in the robe, things are bound to go off the rails.
Entertainment Value: I should open by saying that while this is often listed as being produced in 1979, the actual date seems to be much later, as in the early 90s, though I have listed 1979 since that is the date most sources list. I should also mention that while Andy Kaufman is listed on the cast list in many references, he is not a part of Stormy Justice. But Bob Zmuda, Kaufman’s close friend and creative partner, plays the role of Tony Clifton and since he often was the one to portray Clifton, the end result is a hilarious, authentic Clifton roller coaster ride. Clifton as a judge is a concept I wish had a bunch of seasons, but this pilot would never be picked up and as such, we have only this one half hour episode to appreciate.
The episode consists of four cases, with Clifton presiding and basically making the participants feel awkward and uncomfortable the entire time. The cases include goldfish murder, gambling debt, and barbecue drama, so Clifton takes these simple cases and turns them into chaos, each a little wilder than the last. I love the final case, the goldfish murder case, as Zmuda really amplifies Clifton’s wackiness and comes up with some razor sharp banter. His disgust when he learns about “feeder fish” alone makes Stormy Justice worth a look. But every case is filled with outrageous moments, as Clifton roasts the folks involved and blends in surreal touches as only the world’s angriest lounge singer can. I love this episode, but I sure wish we had more than just one. I highly recommend Stormy Justice to anyone who appreciates chaotic, absurd humor or the comic style of Kaufman and Zmuda.