In 1965, on my ninth birthday, my parents took me and a group of my friends to see The Disorderly Orderly, which was a movie starring Jerry Lewis released that year. The audience was filled with kids driven to a candy and soda-fueled frenzy, all trying to emulate Jerry's zany behavior. It was one of my happiest childhood memories and I've always had a special place in my heart for Jerry Lewis.
I have written and performed comedy for the past 30 years, and most of my peers in the business have a similar Jerry Lewis story. On March 16, Jerry celebrated his 86th birthday with a tribute hosted by Richard Belzer at the 92nd Street Y to a packed house. After a discussion and some film clips of Jerry's work and accomplishments, he took questions from audience members. One of Jerry's comments was that he has always acted like a nine-year-old, and it immediately had me re-live my birthday at the movie theater.
Comedy greats Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Jerry Stiller, David Letterman and Martin Short paid homage to Jerry via video tributes and then a small group moved on to the Friars Club for a more intimate celebration. As Jerry walked into the Friars Club, comedian Robert Klein kissed his hand. I touched Jerry on the shoulder and wished him a happy birthday.
It was like meeting the Pope, only better.