Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lewis






"The stuff that I do that's really good is when I have the right intention. It's not necessarily the material as much as it is the intention and the material. When my intention was to make it soft and sensitive and loving, that's what I got out of it. Whether it belonged in the movie or not. You'll get your naysayers to say, 'What was that for?' What was it for when Chaplin sat at the edge of the street and just watched people walking by? I mean, what did that mean? It meant something: it meant he wasn't going anywhere.

[...]

"That statement ['nothing is more dramatic than comedy'] comes from doing comedy. In order to make your audience laugh, you have to dramatically change who you are. I won't trip over that piece of wood on the stage if it's me walking there. But Jerry [the character] will, or Stanley, or the Idiot, or whatever we call him in that moment. He has to trip over it. Now, he has to turn into something that isn't truly him, so we're taking a piece of vanity and rubbing it out, a little ego, burying it, sandpapering all that down, and bringing up all of the gargoyles. Because in England they say what he does is grotesque. The first time I read that, I was heartbroken, but they say, 'No, that's a compliment.' Okay. When I stand in front of an audience on New Year's Eve, let's say, years ago, and I see the young man and his girl, man and his wife, girl, boyfriend, couples, lovers, all that wonderful stuff ringside. I'm standing up there alone and making a fucking fool of myself to entertain all of them. There's nothing more dramatic than that moment, Chris. It's very dramatic. Because I have to call on something that's not what I want to be at that moment. I want to be there with my girl or my wife watching some other schmuck make a fool of himself. But I never ever thought of what I did as demeaning. What I thought of it was: other than me at that moment. So it's very dramatic."

—Jerry Lewis, in conversation with Chris Fujiwara, in the destined-for-the-ages 32-page 2003 interview transcribed in Fujiwara's new book, Jerry Lewis.

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