Difficult interview with Jerry Lewis


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/23/difficult-interview-with-jerry.html


I’ve never been a huge Jerry Lewis fan, until now.


It wasn’t the interview we wanted: it was the interview we needed.





I heard that The Hollywood Reporter made this video as part of a series of interviews with stars in their 90s, including Dick Van Dyke and Betty White. I suspect that Dick and Betty’s interviews will be at the opposite end of the congeniality spectrum compared to Jerry.


My dad was a pretty good impressionist. His best was Jackie Gleason but he was also pretty good when he’d sing in the style of his favorite crooners. The song “When You’re Smiling” that Dean Martin sings in that clip from 1952 (my birth year BTW) is one of the songs he liked to imitate. Listening to that now, I actually felt like a little kid again.




For masochists: the first and final drafts of the script


Jerry Lewis is in no mood to suffer a fool today.

So how did Access Hollywood get in his house?


why the fuck even do an interview?

It’s like he wants me to care less about him than he does.


Holy crap, Jerry Lewis is still alive?


After seeing this interview where he praises Trump and says “refugees should stay where the hell they are” I’m glad he decided to keep his answers short.


I don’t have to be 90 years old to understand why JL’s terse responses were appropriate, given the interviewer’s rather condescending questions. I half expected the interviewer to ask JL why he’s hasn’t yet off’ed himself, being 90 and all.


Ouch. I get the impression Lewis was doing an experiment to see if it’s possible to snap another man in half with just words and silence in the correct combination.


In Mr. Lewis’ defense, he has been struggling with Imminent Death Syndrome everyday, for decades.


I imagine after 90 years, Lewis is tired of hearing the same lame questions from an interviewer. But it would have been easier on everyone involved (including anyone who dared watch) to have just said “No” once, when first asked to be interviewed.

Four of his stand-alone movies stand out as really good work, IMO, both in the writing and comedic acting: “The Bellboy”, “The Errand Boy,” “The Patsy,” and “The Nutty Professor.” If you can get past the unfortunate pathos he likes to stick in, these include some individual scenes (skits, really) that are real gems. One of my favorites is the extremely crowded elevator scene (Errand Boy, I think). Lewis is pressed face to face against a tall, large man, who is chewing a toothpick. The toothpick goes in and out, pokes Lewis in the nose, then, finally, and without your seeing it happen, transports itself to Lewis’s mouth.

But you have to like physical comedy. And his later movies (at least the few that I watched as a kid) aren’t nearly as good, to be polite about it.


I agree. The interviewer was unhealthily obsessed with Lewis’s age. Even when the pisher asked about Max Rose or about the planned tour he had to frame the questions in the context of Lewis being old.


Yep. The questions were noticeably sophomoric. Reminded me of some of the Youth Radio interviews.


The interviewer was, well, let’s just say, unskilled. He asked quite a few Yes or No questions, which just lets the interviewee give one-word responses, and once that pattern is set up, it’s hard to break out of.

For a far better interview with Lewis, see the recently released one on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. It was recorded a little while back, but wasn’t released for format reasons. It was supposed to be a full hour, but for some reason Lewis thought it was a half hour. He’s going along great, and telling wonderful stories, then at the 30 minute mark, he completely shuts it done and leaves. Maron’s been releasing a lot of never-before-heard odds and ends lately, and this was one of them. It’s worth checking out.