Saturday, January 09, 2010
Ill-Suited to Mingle With Lumberjacks
So I was watching some skits from Jerry Lewis's late-60s variety show. So what? Why do you care what I do with my own time? Leave me alone! And suddenly there was Ben Gazzara, and I thought "!". Nor was that the first time I thought "!" as I watched some skits from Jerry Lewis's late-60s variety show, nor was it the last. I thought right away, "Ben Gazzara is playing the Dean Martin role." And then I thought, "Jerry Lewis should have been in a John Cassevetes movie!" And then I realized that Gazzara really, truly WAS playing the Dean Martin role, because I remembered seeing the EXACT SAME SKIT on the COLGATE COMEDY HOUR starring Martin and Lewis, predating the Gazzara skit by, I don't know, let's say 15 years. And I was like, "Pendarvis, you have to tell the world!" I was like, "Everyone wants to know!" I was like, "You can't sit on this important information!" I was like, "Now my students will respect me more than ever!" But then there was a hilarious skit in which Jerry hung out with some lumberjacks, and I got distracted. He was ill-suited to mingle with them! But what really made me think "!" was an extended bit of great surreality and stylization - with musical numbers! - in which Jerry Lewis and Laurence Harvey (!) - weirdly well matched, and trying to outdo one another in perverse line-reading choices - played old-timey prospectors (!!) with Joey Heatherton (!!!). I don't think I feel like explaining why, but it made my brain explode. The DVD was front-loaded with weaker material for some reason, but the prospector skit was ambitious, employing the kind of sound design so excellently analyzed in Chris Fujiwara's new book on Lewis. Despite all my self-imposed rules and regulations, I think I need to find a picture of Joey Heatherton, of whom you have never heard.