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Comedy Movies - The Errand Boy - Jerry Lewis

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The Errand Boy
Jerry Lewis
Paramount
1961

Jerry Lewis, now more famous for his annual telethon for MS and for being admired by the French, does not get the respect he so richly deserves. Jerry Lewis is and was a comedy genius. It is unfortunate that in a world where people think Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey are funny it has become fashionable to dis Jerry Lewis.

Many who do have no idea what a comedy with Jerry Lewis looks like and sounds like because they have never seen The Errand Boy or any other Jerry Lewis movie. That's probably why they think Jim Carrey (or Adam Sandler or other wannabes) are funny, not realizing that in the world of comedy Jim Carrey barely qualifies as a Jerry Lewis understudy and Adam Sandler does not even belong on the studio lot.

The Errand Boy, one of a few Jerry Lewis funny movies recently released on dvd -with more to come including personal fave Who's Minding The Store?-proves without a shadow of a doubt that Jerry Lewis is a comedy giant and the rest are pipsqueaks. It is ironic that the expression "out of control" is often associated with Sandler and Carrey: Lewis proves time and again that real comedy is about perfect control that only looks like mayhem.

The premise of The Errand Boy is simple. A dolt and studio errand boy, Jerry Lewis, is hired by a studio executive to spy on the goings on in the studio. This plot is soon abandoned for a series of funny scenes involving Jerry Lewis as he makes his way through the studio lot, destroying everything in his path.

Forget about continuity in The Errand Boy, a movie that requires solid willing suspension of disbelief, because you will soon notice that from scene to scene, or from funny sketch to funny sketch, Jerry Lewis is either wearing a vest or a suit and no explanation is given (or needed really) for the costume change. This movie is basically a setup for what Lewis did best: physical comedy, visual comedy, funny comedy, and very sweet comedy (as in the famous scene with the hand puppet clown).

The Errand Boy also features Lewis best ever comedy skit, even better than the typewriter bit: Lewis sits in the studio boardroom and improvises a visual but silent riff over a jazz score. This is so good you almost believe he is actually saying something when it is all in the music: let's see if Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler can do that.

The Errand Boy ends with errand boy and dolt Jerry Lewis becoming a star after being supposedly discovered by the studio head. The scene that sets this up with three people in a studio theater watching the movie accidentally made of the errand boy's latest path of destruction should be made available to anybody to disrespects Jerry Lewis. It is a cri du coeur about comedy and real comedic talent: seems even back then is was fair game to say the emperor had no clothes when the emperor (Jerry Lewis) was fully clothed and it was the peasants who were undressed.



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