August 26, 2017

R.I.P. Jerry Lewis: Life imitates art in “The King of Comedy”

David MenziesMission Specialist

There are plenty of eulogies for Jerry Lewis, who passed away earlier this week, so I won’t duplicate that here. Instead, I'll give a shout-out to a 1982 film that would turn out to be, in the decades that followed, eerily prescient.

I’m speaking of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece, The King of Comedy featuring Jerry Lewis in the straight-man role and Robert De Niro as the cringe-inducing aspiring comedian, Rupert Pupkin, one of his best roles.

Some 35 years after the film's release, a legion of Rupert Pupkins abound in that biosphere of the bizarre known as reality TV and, of course, on the Internet.

We’re in the world that The King of Comedy predicted way back in 1982 before there was such a thing as the Internet and when the term “going viral” typically meant an outbreak of gonorrhoea.

Rest in peace, Jerry Lewis. And thank you for your performance in a film that’s far more relevant in 2017 than when it was when originally released.

You must be logged in to comment. Click here to log in.
commented 2017-08-27 00:58:41 -0400
Jerry was one of my favorite comedians, I never missed any of his shows or movies.
You will be sorely missed Jerry, God Bless and Rest in Peace.
commented 2017-08-26 19:05:31 -0400
In trying to recall all the times Jerry Lewis made me laugh in the last 60 years – and how good for you laughing is – with a nod to William ‘Bill’ Elder’s comment about unhappy comedians, this ‘square’, for one, is glad he got up from that prat-fall and took a bow…
commented 2017-08-26 17:09:08 -0400
RIP Jerry Lewis
He raised awareness and countless millions for muscular dystrophy. He was dedicated year after year to the telethon to help with finding a cure for this debilitating disease.
commented 2017-08-26 15:07:00 -0400
Jerry Lewis was a legend, and whenever I saw his name in a movie I always watched. He was great! Comedy and tragedy go hand in hand, in my opinion. Those with the best sense of humours have known great tragedy, and I too believe that Jerry Lewis suffered a great deal in his life. His gift was not only in comedy, but his labour day weekends for Muscular Dystrophy helped many who could not help themselves. RIP Jerry – your star will always shine brightly, and you are in a much better place now. God bless you!
commented 2017-08-26 12:34:56 -0400
I used to dismiss Lewis as a jibbering buffoon only squares would laugh at – until I saw “the Bellboy”. I noticed a lot of cutting edge social commentary subtly transposed into sight gags and physical comedy – Lewis wrote and directed most of his films and for a guy wearing 3 hats they were funny then and they are now – it takes some insight into human nature to make people laugh with timelessly funny comedy – Lewis had that gift.

In the King of Comedy I wondered if Lewis had wished he was still a “Rupert Pupkin”. Watching some of his frank interviews, I think Lewis was not a happy man despite his fame and wealth – not comfortable in the skin his audience demand he wear – I wonder If he ever wished he had not taken that first prat-fall on stage and remained a happy nobody.