The popcorn stand |

The popcorn stand

Jerry Lewis died on Sunday and that reminded me of one of my favorite movies, which eerily showed what kind of society we were becoming. The reality-show celebrity society we have today that’s based more on notoriety than accomplishment.

Lewis was known more as a daffy comedian who teamed with Dean Martin, for being loved by the French and the longtime host of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon (for you millennials, a telethon was a way to raise money and this telethon was an American tradition every Labor Day weekend). I never could figure out if we were actually making fun of the French or if the French were making fun of us when it came to their love of Lewis. (Maybe to the French, Lewis was the typical American).

But even though Lewis was known more for being “The Nutty Professor,” I remember him most for his dramatic and brilliant performance in 1983’s “The King of Comedy,” In a way, “The King of Comedy” is a sequel to Martin Scorsese’s more well-known film, “Taxi-Driver,” which was Robert DeNiro’s breakout role.

In both movies, DeNiro plays a troubled soul who ends up becoming famous and well-respected in the end. In “The King of Comedy,” Lewis plays “The King of Comedy,” Jerry Langford, who won’t give DeNiro’s character, Rupert Pupkin, a wannabe comic, the time of day. Pupkin kidnaps Langford to force Langford to put him on Langford’s late night show, so Pupkin can do his standup act.

After Pupkin appears on the Langford’s show, he heads to jail, but after his stint in jail he realizes the fame and fortune he was after all along.

Like I said, watch “The King of Comedy” and you’ll see eerie parallels to how people achieve fame today. And rest in peace Jerry Lewis.

— Charles Whisnand