The Chicago Tribune published an article today about Jerry Lewis, the 84-year-old comedian-filmmaker-humanitarian who's been hosting the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon every Labor Day weekend since 1966.
Alternating between trash-talking and tenderness, sweetness and snark, conversation about Lewis' future endeavors compelled the star to consider what had brought him here—and the fleeting nature of comedy.
"Funny is fragile. It's elusive," Lewis said. "It's elusive to everyone because you're never going to get a handle on what's funny. And people don't stay funny. As we get older, we lose a spark.
"But I can make somebody laugh when I open my eyes. It's still there when I shut them," he continued.
Yes to funny being fragile, no to Lewis still being able to make people laugh whether he's awake or comatose. (Double no to any comedian who claims he's still funny in his mid-80s right after he says funny is fragile.)
Personally, I've never found his shtick funny. I do admire him for his fund-raising efforts on behalf of those with muscular dystrophy, but just like reporter Chris Lee, I'm curious about something ...
How did Lewis become interested in the disease in the first place?
"That's never been answered by me and never will be!" Lewis snapped, suddenly bristling with indignation. "The important thing is not why, but that I do."