A few days ago I posted a terrific clip of Jerry Lewis dancing to ‘Rock-Rock-Rock-A Bye Baby’ and doing an intentionally bad job of it. The brilliance of the routine is that Lewis is, in fact, an excellent dancer and keeps giving you hints of his actual dexterity and skill within the routines clumsy confines. Much the same happens here only with singing, not dancing, in this clip from ‘The Patsy’ (1964). Lewis lip-syncs to a song called ‘I Lost My Heart In A Drive-In Movie’ and screws it up. You might think that would be easy given that its much harder to lip-sync successfully than unsuccessfully. But Lewis’s take isn’t just to screw things up–it’s to get himself back on track every so often and sync up properly only to fall out of alignment again. This gives the routine an odd tension, a kind of edge of your seat ‘will he make it?’ vibe. This is far from a loose, improvised and sloppy routine. All the gags (including the tooting of the horn) have been carefully worked out by Lewis and watching it a few times in a row will support my recent contention that the words ‘subtle’, ‘skillful’ and ‘artful’ actually can be uttered in the same sentence with the name Jerry Lewis. Of course you can also use the word ‘prick’ and ‘bastard’ when discussing him as well, but that’s part of the Jerry of it all…


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