Thursday, June 07, 2012

No Jokes From Jerry

Watching THE PATSY again and thinking about how Jerry Lewis never does jokes. A lot of comedians reel off the sharp, snappy quips, but there's nothing else in comedy like Jerry's loose streams of words. His character Stanley Belt, about to be included in a champagne toast (and tell me this isn't Joycean!): "These are the kind of glasses you throw in a fireplace and break so when they run away the lady can cry like Prince Valiant movies." (See also.) I'd say that Jerry's feelings about the traditional standup comedy "joke" predict Andy Kaufman's. That scene McNeil loves so much, when Stanley bombs onstage for several agonizing minutes, is indistinguishable in spirit and effect from the kind of thing Andy Kaufman later made his specialty.