Friday, January 23, 2009
Long Live Mr. Humanitarian!
Yesterday’s Oscar nominee announcements were fairly special, considering Rhode Islander Viola Davis earned a Supporting Actress nomination for Doubt, and long time RI resident Richard Jenkins grabbed one for Best Actor in the little gem The Visitor. Yet, beyond the hoopla and lost in the shuffle was a truly dynamic choice, one that bodes particularly well for some Oscar Night dramedy—King of Comedy Jerry Lewis is being given the much vaunted Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. How spectacularly cool and wholly incomprehensible is that? One of showbiz most foremost and outright pricks, a notorious pill-popper, womanizer and grand-sized egotist, a guy with a streak of self-righteousness as wide as a hockey rink and an undeniable Messianic complex gets to join such luminaries (and Hersholt awardees) as Bob Hope, Paul Newman, Quincy Jones and (yep) Frank Sinatra. We all watched (with a continual combination of awe, horror, and uncomfortableness) Jerry’s yearly Shakespearean tour de force on his Muscular Dystrophy Marathon as he rages like Lear, contemplates like Hamlet, and moves in for the kill like MacBeth, formidably displaying his outsized talents by heartily singing off-key, making cartoonish and otherworldly noises, spit-talking, doing the St. Vitus boogie, hugging celebs and virtually crushing their spines, lip-locking third level comics and burnt-out and fading former TV celebs, tugging on the plastically enhanced ears of starlets no one’s heard of, elbowing stiff businessmen after stiffer businessman in their off-the-rack suits, and, every coupla hours or so insanely gazing directly into the camera and delivering an of-the-cuff whispery sermon that sounds like a carnival barker cranked up on a combo of cough medicine and downers negotiating with a corner whore. I just love the guy, adore the whole shebang, worship the very ground that last mean standing Jerry walks on and truly hope (and even pray) that the Jerry genie gets out of the bottle when he strolls into the end-of-the-road spotlight to accept his oh-so-special Oscar.