You can bet your socks, all of them, France is mourning in the same way they would if butter became instinct. Jerry Lewis, the fictional King Of Comedy (or was it Rupert Pupkin?), passed away today, August 20th 2017. He was 91 years old.
I loved Jerry Lewis as a child. I loved him in the same way one loves a drunk uncle, in that, as a child, he’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or known. But as you age, and you learn how society works, he’s kind of a dickhead. And the more you think about it, he really is a dickhead.
I must admit, Jerry Lewis lived a very parallel life to the current president of the US, Trump. Jerry Lewis knows that you aren’t supposed to look in the camera in the middle of a scene to mug, yet he couldn’t fight the childish urge to do it. As he aged, his improvisational skills were obnoxious and disrespectful. He was a prisoner of his archaic comedic instincts and pride. He reeked of desperation for that all elusive laugh. The only difference between Lewis and Trump is that Lewis looks like a human being. Sad.
When you lay this atop his whole career, you can’t help but wonder that he was the luckiest control freak ever. From the beginning of his career, he was an “anything for a laugh” performer. As comedy evolved, “anything for a laugh” became synonymous with clown whore.
When I was 12 years old, I remember seeing the movie Hook, Line & Sinker, and laughing-crying-howling when his character goes fishing on a boat, and he reels in a swordfish that skewers him right through the gut. In retrospect, I realize that I was just another stupid kid, a real stupid kid, very, very stupid.
I remember the Jerry Lewis talk show, co-hosted by the late-great Charlie Callas in 1984. It ran for one week from June 18 to June 24. I may be the only person who saw all 5 episodes. I was old enough to know that this is what it’s like when someone punctures an active accordion. Horrible deflating notes as a proficient accordionist executes the right motions, and like any true performer, he continues with the knowledge that the show must go on until the camera stops rolling. Sad.
When asked how would you like to die? Lewis replied, “I didn’t know we had a choice.” I will miss Jerry Lewis in memory, but no so much as a person.
On the topic of comedic genius, Dick Gregory passed away on August 19, 2017. He was a man of greater conviction and dignity. I did not discover his genius until I was firmly in my adult years. He died at the age of 84, which is the white 91.
Starting at 3:13