In the history of comedy, there are few people who have ever reached the level of becoming a legend. Most don’t achieve such a level until long after their passing. However, Jerry Lewis is one major exception. Jerry has seamlessly conquered the world of comedy in all facets. From stand-up, to acting, to singing, he seems physically unable to do any wrong.
Yesterday The Friars Club in midtown Manhattan, celebrated the 88 years young super star on the 50th anniversary of his beloved flick, The Nutty Professor. While the show did start a little late (as comedy often does), Jerry was welcomed to a warm standing ovation. Jerry took a seat next to Maria Menounos, who filled in at the last minute for Al Roker as host. Sadly, Al was stuck in Atlanta but Maria did a fantastic job playing host. While Jerry has gotten older as time has gone on, his wit remains untouched. As Maria welcomed preplanned audience members to ask Jerry questions, Jerry was sharp as a tack and accompanied his clever responses with some fun face gestures. The crowd seemed to be unable to do anything but laugh.
One of the funniest moments was when Maria, who was wearing a very short and tight skirt looked at Jerry and said “Do you need a drink?” Jerry quickly responded with “Do you need a skirt?” The crowd went nuts. Maria looked speechless but managed to tell the audience how she was now blushing.
Jerry also shared a lot of his wisdom. He certainly knows a lot about the human spirit and wanted to share that today. He told the audience how he dreams of a world where everyone just loves each other. A world where we can all cheer for each other and be happy about one another’s success. An audience member then asked Jerry which friend, who had passed away, did he miss most? Jerry said that you just miss them all, not one more than another. You’re sad they died.
However, then things shifted gears when he said something along the lines of not being sad if Joan Rivers died. Maria quickly gave Jerry an out saying, “You don’t mean that.” But Jerry quickly shook his head yes. He then told a story about one time when Joan said, “Jerry Lewis wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for his fundraisers.” Jerry got visually irritated and said “It wasn’t a joke.” He went on to say she is implying that it if wasn’t for crippled people I wouldn’t have success and that’s wrong. He said he couldn’t understand why she would say such a hurtful thing, they’ve never met or anything. So Jerry said his response was to write her a letter that said if she ever mentioned him, his charity, or his kids ever again, then he’s going to go to Chicago and get some people to bash her head in. He finished the topic by saying he finished the letter with saying he understand threats are illegal and if Joan chose to share it, he would go to jail but at least she would know how he felt. Then Jerry’s priceless grin spread across his face as he laughed and said something along the lines of, “And we never had another problem.”
Jerry continued to take questions from the a group of pre-planned audience members invited by SiriusXM and knocked them all dead. He was so funny. After finishing with the pre-planned members, Jerry opened the questioning to the whole audience. It was great.
They say “Legends never die,” and in some ways that’s true, but today I learned that some legends never lose their charm and in Jerry’s case, their honesty. I am only 26, so I didn’t grow up watching him and, honestly, I’m not as familiar with his work as I should be but I now fully understand why people love him. He’s one of the most charismatic people ever and genuinely funny. He’s Jerry Lewis and he’s a legend.
SiriusXM’s Town Hall with Jerry Lewis, will air on Friday, June 6 at 5pm ET on their “Raw Dog SiriusXM Comedy Hits,” channel 99. You can also get it on the SiriusXM app or online at SiriusXM.com/townhall
Also in celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Nutty Professor, Warner Bros just released a special 50th anniversary edition . on Blu-Ray this week.