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Catching up with comedy legend Jerry Lewis


The legendary Jerry Lewis is 87, he still has a full head of hair, and he’s as rascally as ever. He performs Thursday at the South Point, and this is what it’s like to talk to him.

Me: “What’s your show going to look like this week?”

Jerry: “You’re gonna see a tall Jew on the stage.”

Me: “What have you been up to?”

Jerry: “Working. Finished ‘Max Rose.’ (That’s Jerry’s latest film.) I’m doing six concerts (around America, soon). Just show me where they applaud, I’ll be there.”

Me: “Are you working on a book or have any secrets to share?”

Jerry: “I’m in discussion right now with (film producers) in Paris. They sent me a script. They want me to direct in Paris. I’m pretty anxious to read it and see if we go to Paris or not. I love it there.”

Me: “I went to Paris for the first time last year, and the people were sweet.”

Jerry: “They’re wonderful. … When I go to Paris, the front page says, ‘Jerry Lewis is back.’ ”

Me: “I’m putting a story in the paper that says, ‘Jerry Lewis is still here.’ ”

Jerry: “I like that.”

Me: “What do you like about this hotel?”

Jerry: “It’s close to my home.”

Me: “I haven’t been to your house. Do you have llamas and camels and stuff?”

Jerry: “No, I have a beautiful 22-year-old daughter, and my wife and I, and our chihuahuas.”

Me: “So you’re a dog person, not a cat person. Why do you like dogs?”

Jerry: “I’ve had dogs all my life, but this is a love affair. It’s incredible. I’m ready to leave and come see you, and I’m getting in the car in front of my house, and Pauly sits there and goes, ‘hmm hmm hmm.’ He’s crying because I’m leaving. He’s so cute.”

Me: “I like cats because, like girls, you have to work at them.”

Jerry: “They’re too (expletive) independent. I think that’s why I never caught on with cats. I always think they’re going to grow up during the night and rip my leg off tomorrow.”

Me: “Do you ever keep up with Don Rickles or Debbie Reynolds?”

Jerry: “No.”

Me: “Is it because you were never close to people in that circle?”

Jerry: “I’ve got tremendous friends. You just picked a couple I don’t see. Tony Orlando called me before I left the house. He just called to see how I was. He always does that. We’ve been friends a long time.”

Me: “How is it you still have all your hair? How did this happen? Look at all this hair you have.”

Jerry: “My grandfather died at 96, had a full head of hair like mine. My dad died at 86, full head of hair, gorgeous.”

Me: “You don’t even have (hair recession). It’s insanity.”

Jerry: “This is the way it’s going to be at my funeral.”

Me: “You should have a little window, when that happens, in the coffin, so for all time, people can look at your hair.”

Jerry: “There’s not enough bald guys to do it for.”

Me: “Last question. If you were emperor, how would you change the world?”

Jerry: “Get rid of gambling and alcohol.” (This causes the South Point casino men in the room to laugh.)

Me: “You know, the last time I interviewed you, you offered to give me your shoes.” (Jerry has spectacular shoes.)

Jerry: “What did you say (in response)?”

Me: “I would love to have them.”

Jerry: “They’re $500 apiece.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.