New Jersey’s own comedy star Jerry Lewis (born on March 16, 1926 in Newark) has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This year he raised an all-time high of $62 million.
He also, unfortunately, used a derogatory term for homosexuals during one of his improvised rants at about the 18th hour of the program this year. Other highly improvisational comedians like Jerry Lewis often work in the moment, and have been guilty of similar language. Michael Richards at the Laugh Factory from late last year to comes mind.
Of course, Mr. Lewis is 81 years old, and works on stage for most of the annual 22-hour telethon. His charity work for the MDA, along with his work ethic, is highly commendable. Undeniably, his sensibilities as a comedian are certainly those of a long bygone era. However, these facts certainly do not exempt him from exhibiting good sense.
Mr. Lewis may be considered a genius in France, but this year on his telethon he did not show good sense. Comedy is a business that has tolerated parodies of gay stereotypes before--- almost nary a peep. --- Robin Williams on late night talk shows and Damon Wayans on “In Living Color” comes to mind.
Comedians by and large have not always shown good sense. But, others have not received quite as much attention as Mr. Lewis for his gaffe. Even Woody Allen received less criticism when he married his step-daughter.
Unlike others, to his credit, Jerry Lewis apologized immediately for his attempt at humor. It does not take a genius to make an apology, just someone who realized he was wrong and made amends.
Mr. Lewis should from now on, stick to his classic bits that he does best.