“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, ‘If you don’t get Jerry Lewis, you don’t understand comedy.’ ”
Host and self-proclaimed comedy nerd Jerry Seinfeld goes full-on fanboy during Lewis’ episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (Friday, Netflix), which finally debuts nearly a year after the longtime Las Vegan’s death Aug. 20.
“I’ve been obsessed with him my entire life,” Seinfeld says in a voice-over. “When I was a kid, I thought, ‘There’s a guy named Jerry, my name’s Jerry, so maybe I could do it.’ ”
For the car, Seinfeld chose a 1966 Jaguar E-Type Roadster in Carmen red with a black interior, four-speed manual transmission and 265 horsepower. It’s the same model and color that Lewis drove during his heyday. The thing has enough switches, buttons and levers on the dash to have successfully landed Apollo 11.
Then there’s the accommodation he offers to make when Lewis announces he doesn’t like coffee: “Why don’t we take a nap together then?”
Instead, the Jerrys settle on breakfast at The Omelet House on Charleston Boulevard, where Lewis’ meal — “Three fried eggs up and a large order of very, very, very stiff bacon” — is the source of unending delight.
“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Seinfeld declares, staring at the mound of dessicated pork between them. When Lewis can’t find the salt, Seinfeld asks, in mock wonderment, “What’s left to kill you with?”
The episode is a loving look back at the career of a comedy icon, complete with a clip from Lewis’ album “Phoney Phone Calls 1959-1972” and rehearsal footage from 1960’s “The Bellboy.”
Lewis’ eyes light up when he talks about his craft, whether it’s the 169-page script for “The Bellboy” he wrote in just 11 days or how he’d send Stan Laurel his screenplays and receive generous amounts of advice in return.
Seinfeld asks what other comedians he liked, and the response leaves him crying with laughter. “Most all the qualified ones. And the others I wanted to kill personally. I wanted to shoot them and their parents.”
Lewis reveals the pinky ring he wore in almost every photo and movie, regardless of the plot or setting, was a bar mitzvah gift. “No. Come on. You’ve had that since your bar mitzvah?” Seinfeld exclaims. “That should be in the Torah!”
And he admits to never being content with his own work. “I have been dissatisfied with some of the funniest (expletive) I ever put on film.”
On the way back to his home office, where his Oscar — presented in 2009 when he was given the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award — sits on his desk next to a tape dispenser, Lewis shows his admiration for Seinfeld. “We’d have fun writing together, I think.”
“Oh, I would love that,” he replies, clearly touched.
“One of us,” Seinfeld says, “was born at the wrong time.”
Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.