Jerry Lewis Brings
Nostalgia To Arizona
Color images by Georges Biard.
Legendary Comedian, Actor, Singer, Film Producer, Screenwriter, And Film Director Shows The Old Slapstick Routine At The Veterans Memorial Coliseum
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 30, 2013 — Last Sunday Jerry Lewis made his way to the Arizona State Fair, and it was a truly wonderful experience for everyone in attendance. Maybe it was the old film clips of him with Sinatra and Dean Martin, or perhaps it was black curtains blocking out the back of the stage, or maybe it was just seeing the old showman in his signature tuxedo, but whatever it was Lewis’s performance was a transformative experience.
It opened with montage video of Lewis's early slapstick routines and old movies, before the man himself entered the arena with a wide open mouthed smile on his face dressed to the nines and looking like 87 years of comedy excellence.
When the comedy icon hit the stage at Veterans Memorial Coliseum all thousand or so people in the audience were transported back to a different time and a different place. All together everyone was taken from Phoenix 2013 back to Las Vegas Circa 1965. Right back to a marquee event at a smoke filled club on the strip.
Unfortunately part of what completed the feel of the show being a look back in time was some of the outwardly racist humor. Its not that Lewis was trying to offend anyone it just seems as though the act has not changed much over the last few decades. Chinese people naming their children by throwing silverware in the air and letting it hit the ground was blasé in fifth grade.
Lewis spent the entirety of the performance seated, stating that at 87 years old he needed a chair to perform on tour. Between him being seated and the nature of the show which was half standup comedy, half retrospective look at the career of one of the greatest comics in history, the event was really a spectacularly intimate evening with Jerry Lewis.
He waxed poetic about his career in comedy and film. He looked back remorsefully on the 20 years he did not speak to Dean Martin, and through it all he shamelessly name dropped all of his showbiz pals. Besides Martin and Sinatra, Lewis also relayed stories to the crowd about Sammy Davis Jr., Henny Youngman, and even casually name dropped having worked for mobster “Benny” Siegel.
Another aspect that really made the show seem far more intimate was when Lewis opened the floor to a q and a session with his audience. The fair provided two microphones that people with questions and comments for Lewis could address him.
The questions ranged from things about his career, to his opinion on child labor, to what his greatest accomplishment in life was — to which he picked being a father of six — and while some of them caught the legend off guard, others seemed to be answered with genuine heartfelt appreciation for the question.
Two audience members even brought gifts for Lewis, one woman brought flowers for the legendary comic, while a man brought a CD recording of the eulogy of Al Jolson, one of Lewis's idols.
It was not the high energy Jerry Lewis that one has come to know through his movies, but the an is still an icon and being in his presence and hearing speak of all his memories is definitely a once in a lifetime in 2013.
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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