Jerry Lewis didn’t disappoint at Saturday’s appearance at the Times Center in Manhattan, for an onstage interview conducted by Peter Bogdanovich and sponsored by the Museum of the Moving Image.
The best news is that he looks terrific and seems as sharp as ever at 82. Bogdanovich started by asking some serious questions, but Jerry was there to do what he does best — get some laughs and spread some love — and so the intellectual component of the evening was quickly shuttled aside. Much of the nearly two hour discussion was devoted to Lewis’s partnership with and enduring affection for Dean Martin, and once again he angrily denounced the reductive interpretation of “The Nutty Professor” that holds Buddy Love as a Dean caricature.
The clips — all shown in fuzzy video, cropped to 1.33 — were mostly familiar, though there were a few fresh moments from live television appearances, again favoring Martin and Lewis rather than Jerry as a solo act.
Very little time was devoted to Jerry’s work as a director, apart from the obligatory mention of his invention of the “video assist” — the video playback technology that allows filmmakers to check their shots on set, and which has been a basic part of the filmmaker’s toolkit for decades now.
It was a full house and one that skewed surprisingly young, raising hope that the Lewis legacy has been passed on to a new generation. He took no questions and signed no autographs, but it didn’t matter. The crowd was there for the same reason I was: to bask in the presence of this great artist and unique individual.