Friday, October 28, 2005

Jerry Lewis

Tonight, my friend Jen got tickets to see Jerry Lewis speak at BU in support of his new book "Me & Dean-A Love Story". I wanted to go to hear him because he is a living legend. I regret I never got to see Alan King while he was alive. I didn't have any expectations, except I hoped my evening wouldn't be wasted. It wasn't.
Jen doesn't have a cell phone . So, all communication was relayed between me leaving a message on her home phone, her retireving it and then calling my cell phone. The process was further delayed because there is very bad cell phone reception in Andover, where I was working today. At 6 PM , I was slowly merging into traffic at Fresh Pond when I retrieved the message that I should get there by 6:15, so she could give me my ticket, because it was filling up fast. I was slightly panicked yet still confident I was going to make it. Despite the idiotic traffic. At 6:28, I pulled into a space a block away from the auditorium.
I managed to get in to the theater. The place was pretty packed, with all kinds. A couple of record guys were in there. My friend Pat McGrath who I hadn't seen since he had escorted me to the Walshes show last March, My friend Stacey and her boyfriend John, were there. Larry Lee Lewis was there and Marty the Mime/clown was there.
Robin Young was moderating the evening. She had a little outline about his book and had some questions to move the evening along. Jerry Lewis got a standing ovation when he took the stage. He looked good. He was about average height , I thought he'd be shorter. His hair looked good and he didn't look to be 79 . He talked lovingly about Dean Martin . He remembered the first time he had seen him-Dean was wearing a camel hair coat loosely tied and he was tanned. As partners, they trusted each other completely. Jerry would write the stuff and organize the business end of things. He would tell Dean what was expected of him, Dean would do it and then go golf. Apparently, Dean was a genius at memorizing his lines and executing the
routines. This system worked for them and they made millions. Jerry spent about an hour talking about Dean and his book. I thought he was charming and it really felt like he connected with each individual in the audience.
He was also quite professional and he wasn't going to take any crap -even from the well meaning idiots who so seem to adore him. There was one guy, about 60 , round, with wispy stray white hair sticking out from the sides of his baseball cap. He had big black horn rimmed glasses and he looked like he didn't like wearing his dentures. He planted himself right in front of the stage and took pictures, blocking the people behind him. Jerry asked "Was your father a glazer ? Because you ain't a window ! Sit down!" The guy did.
They had microphones set up in the aisles for the Q & A portion of the evening. I am reminded of an interesting Cher quote " People say they are big fans and want to see me. Mostly, they want me to see them." And I would say that Jerry has a similar following. Almost every one was gushy and looked like they took extra meds to be out after dark. One guy even hawked his book. There was a guy that somehow managed to work the gush with a compliment /question combining Martin Scorsese and the late Matty Stepanik. After , Stacey reminded me he was the Marty Stalker who had showed up at the booth on the Common the day after Martin Scorsese had shot a scene from his forth coming movie "The Departed". The guy was creepy and I wouldn't be surprised if he was sewing himself a "woman suit" in a basement somewhere.
The scariest moment of the evening was near the end when a tubby , frizzy gray haired woman with untreated rosacea jumped up screaming "What about Totie ? !!! What about Totie !!!!!" she shoved a long stemmed rose and a hat at Jerry and then started to screech-sing some song (presumably a hit from the aforementined late great Totie Fields) before collapsing in a shivering twitching heap on the stage at Jerry's feet. She was helped back to her seat. I was speechless and a little scared. Part of me was worried that the poor thing was crazy and part of me wanted somebody to slap her for her attention grabbing antics. When things had simmered down, Jerry invited her backstage "So we can beat the shit out of you !".
Then the event was over. Jerry thanked Boston , he had many fond memories of the city. I really enjoyed the evening. I was touched by his memories of being a part of a comedy duo and his total gushing love for all he had because of Dean. If it hadn't been for Dean, probably neither of them would have had the careers they had. I will buy his book. It was really great that he took the time to come here and I hope all those crazy people buy multiple copies of his book. An unconventionally entertainng evening's entertainement for me. Thanks Jen !


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Blogger Mark said...

Let me be apparently the only non-spammer to post a comment here....

I was at the Jerry Lewis talk that night, and the "Totie" woman came off to me not as a crazy person but as a "theater person" who wanted her moment in the limelight to show off her "comedic" (?) abilities. She wasn't funny, just selfish and annoying. Maybe she thought she was pulling off some sort of guerilla theater piece or something, but it was just lame and disrespectful.

Thursday, June 05, 2008 3:41:00 PM  

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