|There was a VICE online magazine article with the "please click on me" all caps headline "JERRY LEWIS IS STILL ALIVE (AND STILL A PIECE OF SHIT)." It was a one note review of the same Jerry show I just saw (and dragging my pal Ron along) at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. Megan Koester wrote that he's awful because his jokes are old and tired and on top of that he's cantankerous, mean, dismissive and insincere to the audience. She sums it up by demonstrating her more enlightened way of dealing with people by bookending her thoughts, calling him an "Incorrigible sack of shit."|
As the saying goes, "You don't have to know how to make a chair in order to complain it's uncomfortable," but when I think of the entertainment accomplishments that Jerry has amassed (not that I need to tell anyone, but I will anyhow), including thousands of radio shows, thousands of television shows/appearances, hundreds of movies, performing live in front of millions and MDA charity work with an audience of billions, it seems her opinion is as relevant as paying attention to a yapping shih tuz while driving by in your limo.
I think Jerry is fascinating in the same way Keane big eyed paintings are wonderful. They have tons of skill and quality but are dripping with kitsch maudlin senitimentally. Beautiful and horrifying at the same time.
He can be a hilarious belly laugh genius on visually stunning, inventive and clever 4-star films like Cinderfella, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy and The Nutty Professor, yet on many other projects, he'll full throttle his unchecked visions and race off the track in an explosion of flames. Even when that often happens, it's still worth watching. Everyone rubbernecks a car wreck.
What Jerry has going against him (and adds to the fascination) is the vibe of a real life Buddy Love under his Professor Julius Kelp. That boiling anger just under the cross-eyed, thick glasses, buck toothed bumbling idiot facade. It's where his massive ego insists that it's important that he constantly drum home that also finds himself a suave, assured, cigeratte dangling, gin 'n tonic holding, gun totting, multi-talented, never resting dynamo.
But back to the show.
I went expecting a Jerry that didn't need or want to be there.
Instead, he presented himself as a grateful entertainer, happy to share with his fans 90 minutes of clips and quips (I just copyrighted the phrase "Clips and Quips" btw).
Jerry Lewis tells old jokes that he's told a thousand times before.
Get over it.
At 89, I won't even be able to remember a joke.
Even if I had his two teleprompters.
His old-school catskill delivery is fascinating too, because after every 2nd gradeschool joke, he'll put his hand to his head and wince as if he'd been shot,
or double over in laugh pains because he's been devastated by the hilarity.
I assume it's a method to encourage the audience that,
no matter what you might have originally thought,
IT WAS a funny joke!
The personal asides are equally light.
The lead-ins to the clips are more along the lines of "Sammy Davis Jr., is a wonderful entertainer" than anything deeply personal.
But once in awhile he'll throw out head scratching seemingly serious memories,
like being involved the the decision making process during
Cuban Missile Crisis with good friends JFK and Bobby Kennedy(?!).
Besides the jokes, the actual live entertainment,
all delivered while perched on his directors chair,
is limited to a few solo songs and 30 seconds of the typewriter routine.
The Q and A, which was 90% of the fodder for the VICE article, complaining that he was rude to the questionnaires, had been eliminated from the tour.
It could be that the "sack of shit" slant comes from her young lack of knowledge of that school of humor (just Google Don Rickles)
where anyone in the audience is THRILLED to be singled out and verbally jabbed,
or, more likely, once the "STILL A PIECE OF SHIT" headline had been calculatedly come up with, decided the rest of the article better back it up by pretending to be aghast.
I saw him once before on a 1982 "Jerry Lewis In Person" book signing tour .
We never made eye contact as he was talking to someone over his shoulder while he signed my book.
I thought I'd better see Jerry again in 2014 (I mean, how much longer does he have?).
The audience was also glad with their decision to make it out to the show, demonstrated by lots of laughter and applause.
Sometimes my laughter was laughing with him, and sometimes during some long segments I noticed my teeth were clenched and my back muscles had tightened making my shoulders hunch straight up.
I realized that's what "cringe" means.
So I got out of the show just what I love about Jerry.
I laughed and grimaced in equal proportions.
Afterwards we waited by the backdoor stage entrance for him to depart with a fellow group of 20 superfans. When he drove by on the way to his hotel rocking a red sweater he waved through a half open window. This caused at least 3 women to break into joyful tears.
He's still got it!
One thing I take away is a happiness for Jerry to have had such a full productive life working with his singular vision and the drive to accomplish that vision.
It will continue on to entertain and help many.
I wish that pride for everyone!
God Bless Jerry Lewis!