Monday, October 27, 2008

I Should've Stayed in Copenhagen

Funny-as-a-migraine octogenarian Jerry Lewis. On the top he charmingly spits water at a female reporter. On the bottom, he's just made a crab cake in his pants.

It's days like this that we should be glad that Lenny Bruce, Freddie Prinz, James Coco, Dick Shawn and Totie Fields all died relatively young. Had they not, they might have ended up like our old friend Jerry Lewis - an 82-year old unfunny bastard who makes us long for the days of Yakov Smirnoff. Lewis' latest reminder to us that he's not dead yet came this weekend when he charmingly told an audience [and who knew he even had one] in Australia that cricket is a "fag game." This after his performance in his 2007 Telethon [again, who knew he was even still doing that] when he called some cue-card guy on the set an "illiterate fag," when the man gave him the wrong lines to read.

On the one hand, Lewis has never been funnier than with these two performances. I'm not politically correct, as anyone who knows me can attest. I happen to think there are certain words that are just inherently funny. Nipple, douchebag, polo mallet, most words beginning with the letter 'f' -- all are just funny, for no particular reason. So, I don't necessarily have a problem with someone utilizing the word 'fag' in a humorous way. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's insensitive, blah, blah, blah. Have you ever heard Jerry Lewis sing You'll Never Walk Alone? Now that's insensitive. I agree, however, that 'fag' is a word that has seriously hateful connotations, so in humor it has to be used extremely delicately. For example, railing against the French and declaring, "France is a fag country," can be funny if delivered right. For one thing, the French are a bit effeminate. For another, not many people like the French, making them an excellent foil for comedy. Finally, France is not an individual. It's impossible to throw the word 'fag' at an individual and remain funny. Hence, the problem for Jerry Lewis that in both instances he wasn't trying to be funny [and for anyone who's labored through any of his films, you know he has never had a problem being unfunny]. He was brow-beating some union laborer slaving away for almost no wages for 24 hours on a telethon that no one -not even those who have the disease for which the fundraising is being done -is watching. The fact that he threw in 'illiterate' didn't help either. And in the case of his most recent fuck up, there was nothing funny about calling cricket a 'fag game'.

Lewis - or, more accurately, his publicist [I hate to repeat myself, but who knew he had a publicist?] - issued the obligatory apology, which ranked on the sincerity meter somewhere around Germany's apology for World War II. I'll bet you, however, that Lewis is confused about the uproar. In his mind [what's left of it, anyway], he didn't say anything wrong. Of course, he didn't say anything funny, either, but he doesn't get that, too. If we were a more advanced country, years ago we would've given Lewis an ultimatum: retire from public life or we'll euthanize you.

Perhaps most amazing is what Lewis was doing in Australia to begin with. This old facacta actually has a stage show on tour. I know people joke about The Rolling Stones still touring, but an 82-year old unfunny has-been on tour has to be like a freak show. Apparently, the show is a retrospective of his career - how you can make a show out of what essentially were probably 20 minutes of funny material over a 60-year career, I don't know. There are show tunes, excerpts from those God-awful movies of his. It must be a fucking train wreck. Now, of course, we all know why Dean Martin hated this annoying prick so much that he literally would not speak to him for almost 20 years after their act dissolved. And Dean Martin liked everyone.

I've always believed that there were some celebrities better off having died young. I mean, does anyone really need to see what Mama Cass would look like today? The embarrassment that is Jerry Lewis has gone on about 60-years too long. As punishment for their refusal to let our bombers fly over their airspace in the 1986 attack on Libya, we should make France take in Lewis on a political asylum deal. A few more press conferences with this charming prick and I can guarantee you France will never do that to us again.
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