« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

WTF Uncovered - Jerry Lewis

2016-12-09 | 🔗
In September 2016, Marc recorded a conversation with the legendary Jerry Lewis. Until now, no one has heard it other than those in the room. This was supposed to be a full-length episode of WTF, but the interview was compromised and there were no plans to release it. Marc explains what happened as we present this never-before-heard conversation.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
A box. How are you welcome to a another Dixon is as an addition. Another episode of w E F uncovered This is actually supposed to be regular, w E F episode and we did Eric and hell you why we did this danger. in September justice last september with jerry louis. He was promoting turned movies. He had a small independent film out called max rose he's in it. He did a very fine job, jerry and we usually take these opportunities where, where certain people only or available during junkets for specific things you they be records or tv shows and movies, but sometimes that's our window to get a full debbie. He have interviews. So we agree to do the interview at tell jerry was staying in, but we speak
the big. We asked the publicists that no other interviews be scheduled before us. Ok, because you know we're be gone for an hour at least, and we know from experience that that's easy for a ninety year old and they agreed to this awry. So when I got there they rented a small space, the a ballroom space, and I got there in the policies were there in his hand or was there and he was in the room doing an hour long interview the usa today and base some comments he made later on. We suspect that there was even more interviews lie. Earlier. So right out of the gate, I was like there's going to be difficult They are jerry needs to be moved around in a wheelchair. He's got a cane he's lucid but its exhausting its exact, for a person half his age, and I would be forty five. So we started talking and after a half an hour like on the data half an hour, he was done. He eat eat, used images, d.
he ended the interview and they wheeled him out. It was you like it was really rude, he wasn't rude about it and blame him he's ninety, and was tired, but awkward moment, awkward moment. For me, where you know someone just stops in the middle of an interview for whatever reason we starting to go. We did we just barely gone through. Early career and yoni a fairly probe could have guy, sometimes in. I was looking forward to really have the conversation get deeper whatever so we had this incomplete interview. There can be justified as a satisfying episode of wtf, we never had any intention of airing it. and then we were at the now here this festival. Then Brandon, my producer, my business partner myself. That's not three people Brenda's both of those,
we were. I do, and I shall now hear this pike ass fast. I'm only played a bit of this interview during the live deputy. If we didn't, it seemed worthwhile for people to hear it, even though its not a full episodes. So in that context here it is. This is a for me and I don't know the jerry would remembered or or where it was just another blip on, and incredibly long show business. for me, this is a very partially our view. Jerry Louis though there is about there's about a half hour here, so take it. me and jerry Louis almost having conversation fur for somebody, as a performer like yourself to do a restrained performance. You must take a lot of focus. It does you in the sense that the the impact,
so to be funny. I imagine, oh, of course tell you make a living in. That's how you make your life Then they ask you not to do it turn it off really incredible feeling and its wonderfulness. It's it's. It's like taking a vacation it. So it's a good thing yes, they are now in in life. Do you ever a? Are you a the? Do? You ever find reason to turn that off the funny yeah yeah sure yeah? It doesn't belong everywhere. I know why: how long did it take you to learn that one, I think, probably fifteen or twenty years? Oh really It takes a long time to get that as part of your everyday thought process. especially because, if your naturally funny parson in and on top of that a performer and you'll have to bury it right or poor.
On hold is always a strange feeling, and yet, when you do, you get great satisfaction out of it. right in life and on and on its green right, because I know yeah. I guess I do stand at myself. I actually saw Jeff Ross last night, Oh yeah yeah, I was so good- is any old style he's one of these if the guy's a desert like that anymore. Yeah he's wonderful, because I told them I was going to talk to you today and I go hey. How is jerry goes. It's great he's great. The last time He said he had a birthday for yeah yeah was. I thought we had a great time who came everybody and Jesus Christ. I wouldn't even begin to tell you who was there Jesus Christ was there? No, he meant to come, but I think they had another engagement and what did they did they roast yet? Or did they just know? It was a straight wonderful tribute and
one of those tributes that you you remember the rest of your life? Oh, that's sweet! You know and watching the film about. You know that yeah I I found it a horrifying and compelling the idea of of of a man of your age. Fine, this horrible thing out and then then, having that fester? Do you in your life you? How far back the do? Dear memories go you now in terms of like young from new jersey? Do you remember newark? When you were a kid? Oh sure, yeah did you ever go back? There clinton avenue Clinton avenue nor my grandfather from Elizabeth, which is, I think, down the street. Basically Elizabeth was to the right and then new workers left and when you were there, you know what what was the name like what were you boy, we parents from where
from here, where they were they immigrants or no. No, they came straight from burchell awe and what kind of beer where then my dad and my mom above show people and did you yeah. How young were you when you started getting involved? Five, five yup, you were doing stage work white. Yet what we are doing doing a sketch when my dad and a song and I have great recollection of that night? It was saturday night. It was at the swan kotel is that in the catskills yep yeah and I went on stage and it a song. Song was. It was the song of depression and was called brother. Can you spare it rain? I did and the orient love
Are you not love a five year old in a tuxedo How do you not be a hit for Christ? Sakes? I was there. Before I went on, and the wonderful part about that was that it is the only recollection I have of that period is most people forget stuff right of being five yeah yeah. Of course. I dont understand how I remember that, and most people tell me was be. Thus it was so emotionally. It was emotionally. I saw were more satisfying yeah satisfying. At the same time, you have to be careful, to put a kid out on stage that comes with a couple of negative thought processes that go on in new orleans.
right, you're like why they working the kid well, my mom and dad got forty dollars for the show and ten extra. If the kid went on there? You go! There's your answer. You bet what was your dad Was there act without you, everything just a variety show he where's every he was my mentor, my teacher Every time we went on, I learned one thing yeah and how long did he stay in show business his whole life, his whole life? Oh yeah? How old were you when, when he passed away? Ah, Jesus my dad was eighty three when he passed as good run and my mom was eighty two. I don't remember, I don't know. What's Henry had you heavy at you at success. Yet where you are you're already working, you know when they oh yeah. Oh, so they saw you, oh god, yes, so did they so did they live long enough? see you again and everything oh yeah. Oh that's excite yeah! That was great I'll
love that they made it clear to see that in nineteen forty six yeah. I think that was the last time I my folks performed oh really so were they do in the big sort of theatres in new york after you, no no, no, no, they were. They were born so borscht style, farmers right. They were in line with red, skelton men and so many other performers, and they do you, they did where necessary the bad had. You have yeah course you get to thousand jews you gotta do something to let them know you appreciate it, and when did you start? It start You know. Do you remember the their acts that were your parents contemporaries. They had an impact on you like doing the bush about like worthy
acts that you have no idea all. I can talk to you about my mom and dad right. That's all I saw that's all I allowed into my brain and if I saw another performer who is really good I just saw him at that moment and would not take anything from him. Chris. It didn't compared what my folks that yet double thing that the emotional connection with your parents and right they were the best. Oh god, oh god, when did you start doing your own acts? How old were you fourteen and what was it a record that I did mine too recordings popular records of the day yeah and you just that's where you develop the so
stick! That's where I develop mime mine yeah. I worked very hard on learning the beauty of pantomime, really yeah how'd. You study that You stay on your you just see all those dill yeah and you do Your own version of what you saw them do and where we are performing at fourteen in the boar circuit really gap in the cats goes right on your own. Did you oil opening up we a headline. No, I was with my mom and dad ok, so you are part of the shop yeah. Of course, when did it start to a distorted? Take off I mean what what were the rooms? the work we do in the dinner clubs? I was doing dinner clubs year, the glass had in new york at the belma, plaza the, the culinary room at the at the copley plaza in Boston right.
all other all the good places, I made sure that I didn't get into the the necessary work where you did it because it was necessary by versus doing it because you loved it right and did you have to deal with like did you do like some of those larger dinner clubs that the kind of mob on the circuit, at the time like in florida and in all those rooms in ohio It was kind of that. Wasn't there a whole circuit at dinner clubs, oh yeah yeah. I didn't play the ball, but I did play some of them. Do you remember those being good variants? Oh yeah, yeah! Every time are one on stagers, a great experience. No matter what happened out there. I I was taught by my dad, be grateful that they let you go there and be grateful that they applaud for you yeah and be grateful that you're going to do it again. Those are
the collections. I get from other that those are lessons in show business yep, and when did you start like when did it at like? When? Were you getting notoriety on your own, outside of your working with your mom and dad? When will you sort of know that jerry Lewis, he something not until he was martin and lewis a yeah? I you know, I sometimes you know I watch a you know they they do that offer. On television with the roast and the D martin show, And- and I didn't I don't remember- that when I was a kid I'm fifty two
and I watched it. I watched a lot of them europe. Fifty two, I'm fifty two. You look every fucking day and I appreciate it and you look every day of eighty eighty. I know I don't give me a compliment. Give me ten more years or ninety right. You don't look. Ninety, I don't feel ninety, while the one thing that like was, I think that you guys you and dean did something with comedy that never been done before right. I mean you're like big as the fucking beatles. Well, we had something going for us yet that I doubt there were people, never those that ever went for the same reasons: dean and I loved one or another, with a kind of love that is very difficult to describe, and we were. We were rooting performers when he was on. I was rooting like
I never even saw before and vice versa, and we had great respect for one another's information, what he knew This is where I knew and he knew very little about shoppers, and he called me the preacher, oh yeah, yeah, it'll cloud. He, ah, you grew up, and you know o for us and anything to do with sets lights, performing the elements? What it takes before you even include the material. and dean loved. All of it. loved learning it and he loved showing me. He had it right and virtue. Vice versa. We had the greatest
we should ship of any two men that ever lived and we took it and turned it into gold. The msm sometimes a lot yeah a lot. There must be a lot of people that at that have that have that are no longer with us, if you think about sometimes sure sure. I just think it's so sad that we lose people that still have stuff to teach us right. You know that's one of the things I'm very selfish about the loss of an individual year, because I think I'm not going to get stuck did. He could have taught me right, but that's that's a very emotional. Place shore and end, like I imagine that yeah it's it's wonderful. One. People live long enough to share the wisdom. Yeah, oh, of course, if they share it, yeah yeah! Now, when you were, when you were performing with dean, you have you guys, I mean cause you improvise
fairly freely. Oh yeah an end, and I imagine that the the symbiotic timing of you to like how to be like a one mine think! Oh yes, it works like you know, you'd go We he'd white men, he'd nail his wine and their and most a bit happened spontaneously and most of the great stuff was unprepared awe and we had such fun rise getting to work right. I mean he used to do something that broke me up so badly. I didn't give him the next line and he had the best fun. He would tell me probably three times after a show yeah how good. I would ah It is wonderful for your psyche and for your your eu owing your vanity and all that stuff. He was brilliant
how we handle me- and he thought I was pretty more how I handled him and we care desperately for one another and in terms of the dynamic we did Were you in secure? I'm no crime, so, my dear I had more got them Jimmy do a little so well. What about what about deem? Was he insecure? No, so you guys so he eyed. I always found him to be a very gracious entertainer. When I watch him are you I don't know he was, was because he was happy to be there yeah and he was there because he loved to be there year. So you spent you know almost a decade working with him. Ten years yeah and when that ended, did you guys did several movies right an eight year. They were popular that it seem like movies. Just came out every year than just kind of knock em yeah. Then it was a system to the studio systems, different right. They turn em out and they get him
as quickly as possible to just four followed: six, that's why you become independent and which is what you did year. So when you, you indeed split, for whatever reason reasons that we split were very, very sensible. They made Great sense. I wandered do more right, dean milan to do more right he wanted to be more than a straight man right. He sang from his grasp, yeah and loved it I love doing comedy and the two of us with the two clubs that we had is what made us work right right at the time you you guys felt like what we get it. Of course in good luck and we we made to or a quarter for the team.
in atlantic city. That's a hundred and one thousand five hundred and we'd split. Two and a quarter yeah an eleven months later we were making twelve thousand dollar and then the next figure was fifty thousand here and then next figure after that was a hundred and fifty thousand. Before you knew what we were, making three and a half four million a year separately together together and there and you guys, left it. However, I separately, I made nine dollars, but you are passionate. You know we are here. but I gave the order to use the same energy. for the nine box and I got for four hundred thousand. What wouldn't, when you guys
new guy, stop working together you at the top of your game round. It won the diminishing so that now smarting that delivers the top about both of our games. And then he had some imitators. They just filled tried to fill the void. I usually I talked to Marty Allen a couple of years ago. He was he was about ninety three. Then it was like a year or so ago. Yeah he's, probably ninety really yeah and he'll still throw out a hello there, a funny kid funny very funny kid he could yeah he could. He could, though, is that it Was in good but it looked interest rates
such a nice guy too, he seems er. He seems to like to still be a nice guy. Yeah showed the shift out of the out of the team thing where you, where you knew exactly what you wanted to do. Oh yeah make movies yep and do stand up, live yep and the first movies you made were not written by you know you did you had a studio deal? Yes, I howard wrote my friend irma, which was a radio program yeah, and we took it and put it into a film which was my friend. Irma was our first film yeah did well.
It did well, but not because of us. We were just beginning here, but we had a lot of fun learning ya m m when how many? So you worked with him for a few movies with dean now that, after deem on your own, that studio deal o my own gas Jesus Christ, I made forty five film. I know but at the beginning you are you. I got the money on me. You do good good cause If you play it right and you can get a good grip to it, I worked for tips, that's what I do as I was hoping for the best, while on the other word, for it do so by ok,
So with that, when he started doing the movies on your own, see I dunno how the system works, because you you you were involved with you signed a deal with the studio. I imagine chairman and you did what dozen movies were paramount for paramount dean, and I did sixteen. I did thirty seven of your own yeah. That's that's incredible! So yeah this relation, chip with what was still the old guard. I imagine of hollywood, you aren't, I barely been resolved by the press. we get along richard Lewis. He said if he wants to burn the studio given the match, so you are still, but none all cylinders. After all, your eyes. Look absolutely now. When did you first start to directing yourself and a nineteen sixty and was at the bell boy yep now what? How did? How did that happen? Was your contract done?
when the studio you just now to say I'm gonna do it. I had a deal with permanent. There was verbal, yet the contract that we had was bought no louis nothing on the single basis and I went forward with that and took full advantage of it and we became very strong friends. Bonding bouwman was a master of show bit of showmanship he and I really hit it off. He was to have the studio YAP. He ran a whole paramount organization, and the term a wanted anything I'd, call bonnie and was done now any one. Spend time on the lot on the lot on the paramount, lock, yank down their down the street, Who would you see hang around who was around like you know what were the other stars? bottom, a lotta movie stars grace Kelly here: curbed douglas bert, lancaster, my god, my
I see room was right next door to being crosbie and on the other side was was ginger rogers really I mean it was really a movie movie studio right. That was the community. You bet right next to being crosbie yeah did you did he ever stating our deal? No, my thing now how good I never talk to him. You know he was an independent son of a bitch, not nice guy. What I witnessed. I can only say I did not enjoy his company and he did not enjoy mine, no kin. He feared I would take his tube off, that's it Big fear. Now we went on and did a telethon for needy children. I walk on state
Him being ran the other way. No kid I never talked to him again, but he did that maliciously. No, I think he did it out of fear how he really feared that I was going to do something crazy nuts to him right. It never would that right, vase, just a little nervous control, freak guy, didn't didn't want to yeah didn't want to be at the guy. Who was the brunt of the joke?
He had five sums that priority research book. What does that tell you right and it was like when he was in a team for years to whip up of? Do you know bob yeah? I knew but he's a good guy. Oh yeah, that's good the best at what he did write that one line of stuff right. Well, he he was he. His entire career is predicated on what was happening in the world and I think he was, but he was the best that that. Why noticed that, you know in the film you got more sol sit near yeah, Andy he's a difficult man. I have not interviewed mortal, and I wanted to interview mort Saul, well, he's nuts, that I guess that's what the that's another way that was not as nuts as I am because mine nuts is to give people pleasure. His nuts was because he was in he was I'm annoyed man yeah annoyed by the process,
and annoyed by life in itself. Yeah isa, One of those guys doing you're not to do to be rude or anything. He seems to think that he's responsible for a great deal of thinks we're late okay yeah as long as he lives his life and doesn't step on anybody. It's fine, but he's not step into hard right now, no yeah, but it was nice to see everybody. It was nice to see him see people working right, you know cause. I interviewed. I interviewed Shelley Berman, awhile back yeah before he got ill and you know the you know you can eat some of these guys carry things with him for a long time. Yeah. There are a lot of anger. I think we're all guilty of that yeah. What do you got? Who you mad, at whom I met? Yeah hitler. That's a good one to Joe haha
Border won't talk about negative, for is a negative. I did you know you long time in show business you now I mean I'm in show business. Have you know like twenty five years and I've got some things. I can't let go of already, but I guess you soldiery so we with fifty six years old and she just wanted to fuck dean yeah- that's that's it! That's it. well! I can give you about it yeah. So now after you do the bell boy yup, what was the story with that? You just pulled the camera's in how was the first independent film made for you. I was I was booked to play at the fontainebleau right in right. When I got there and I started to perform, I had a four week engagement there and, at the same time I ran into some static from some of the
Eight people had panama show. I said. Let me right my own movie and I did and in nine days. I wrote a hundred and sixty three page script. it's something in your mind before you just said. What am I going to do and you're standing sitting at the hotel? You saw a bell boy or what I looked at the hotel said I'll shoot everything here and I did and the movie made too red million dollar. So now your genius, of course they were scared to death. What I was doing why, because they thought I was making a silent movie. I it's not a silent movie right because jerry doesn't talk, doesn't mean, is a sound movie right with you
but then when it went out and made all the money they thought I was very smart and this sort of defined you as a solo performer on the right that you know you could carry a movie. You had a way of managing yourself on there. Your comedy was tight. You're right right, you gotta go sure We dug for a few more minutes, get up to the current eu when every winter is to go yeah without today, but we're not. We all know yeah, I don't want to, I don't want to you know. I I want to know more about the that the building of what you became as a comedic performer you've got twenty hours yeah. I do you know where you want to move up to a teacher.
I was scared. I I know you taught us see. I don't want to move anywhere. I've been sitting here, a half hour, yeah, that's it we're done yep, okay. What was good talking to you and I liked the new movie christopher bye. Thank you. If I do have the run down. I've got to work today, I'd stay with you, but I can't ok. the louis. I appreciate your time and I, like the new film. Thank you. I pray that- and I hope all of your your gigs are great of you to Al Qaeda right. Thank you that we could have gone more, obviously right and it was awkward moment. I was just sitting there like a in it metaphorically, with my dick hang out, because you're here made a decision, his hand or wheeled him off. The public has come to me, and I was like what was at hand. Like you, I don't know what happened you want me to go, try to get him back and, unlike what it really really
You think you're gonna get him back here. Just forget it there's nothing. We can do now. You can't talk him back into it. So was odd because a guy they were videotaping it for some reason and when the guy It was workin, camera or mike is a fan, a deputy Can you say like a bummer that was gone good now my gut tell about it. Man I just said we packed up my equipment and and left, knowing that I couldn't really ere it as well episode, but I'm grateful that we got to do that with this episode. I dont know if I get another opportunity to interview jerry louis, so I'll be enjoyed that next week will have something else. It does no one has ever heard before it was going to be an epoch, or a thing that people had to pay to listen to, but where, where releasing it next week for everyone here. is uncovered w E f episodes are right former lives
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Transcript generated on 2022-09-04.