Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For McNeil Only

This one is just for McNeil. The rest of you (there are two of you, I think) can skip it. But I happened to find out by accident that Jerry Lewis and Public Enemy were going to be on THE TONIGHT SHOW last night. I contacted McNeil right away. He loves Jerry Lewis and Public Enemy. But I found that McNeil was going to be unable to watch the show. So he asked me to file a report. Here is that report. Jerry entered, looking frail but game, as the Roots played him on with the Beastie Boys hit "Hey Ladies" - the significance of which to Jerry we have remarked upon before. When he arrived at his seat he noticed to his apparent consternation that his necktie was hanging out of his jacket. "WAAAAAH! I thought it was my tongue," said Jerry, which got a big laugh. Then he appeared to tuck his necktie into his pants... on purpose? I couldn't tell. Of course, the great thing about Jerry is that so often YOU JUST CAN'T TELL. Maybe tucking your necktie into your pants is an old show biz trick. Jimmy Fallon started reciting scenes from THE NUTTY PROFESSOR to Jerry Lewis, which was nicely intended, but odd. I will paraphrase from memory. Jimmy Fallon was like, "And you go to the gym and lift weights but then you drop the weights without letting go of them and they stretch out your arms like six feet long. But it's not over. Because then you're in bed that night and your feet are itching and a hand comes out and scratches your foot, and it's your hand because your arms were stretched out really long." It reminded me of that old SNL sketch with Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney. Jerry took it well. Well, no, at some point he cut off Jimmy Fallon's rambling by handing him what was apparently a shocking and obscene note. I don't know what happened there. It was mysterious. Then Jimmy Fallon started describing a scene from THE ERRAND BOY, the famous pantomime to music behind the executive's desk. They showed a clip of it and Jerry said, "When I write, I think in terms of music," which is something Barry Hannah used to say, more or less. Then Jimmy Fallon tried to get him to do a bit in which he and Jerry Lewis would "talk" to each other by lip-syncing to the instrumental music of the Roots. Jerry was confused at first. I suppose he was thinking about how dumb the idea was, how many weeks it had taken him to conceive, design, rehearse, shoot and edit that ERRAND BOY set piece, but he went ahead and tried. You could see the wheels turning and it was nice. The Roots played some music and Jimmy Fallon flapped his gums but Jerry introduced some hand gestures to good effect and really tried to engage with Jimmy Fallon... to push the bit into going somewhere. It didn't. Then Jerry told a dirty joke about a parrot. Public Enemy came out and did their song "Public Enemy #1." I half expected Flavor Flav to give a shout-out to Jerry Lewis in his introductory verse. He didn't, but I see some similarities there, especially in verbal mannerisms, but some of the physicality too. I'm not suggesting direct influence, of course, just expressionistic instincts in common. Think of Flavor Flav's "Cold Lamping": "We got Magnum Brown, Shooshki Palooshki/ Supercalafragahestikalagoothki/ You could put that in your don't know what you said book/ Took-look-yuk-duk-wuk." More Jerryish lyrics would be tough to find. Especially "Shooshki Palooshki." Or "You're eating dirt because you like eating dirt from the graveyard/ You put gravy on it." Can't you just hear Jerry yelling "You put GRAVY on it!"? And when Flavor raps about "chocolate, strawberry, sarsaparilla" who can help but recall Jerry's rhapsody on strawberry milkshakes from THE COLGATE COMEDY HOUR? What? Everybody? Okay.