Friday, June 24, 2011

Late Night with David Letterman with guest Jerry Lewis (1982)


Bobby Wall said...

It would be so great if you could interview Jerry Lewis. The stories upon stories he could tell, my god! I really hope you can do this, Kliph. Have you tried contacting Jerry?

Michael Powers said...

I guess this was from Letterman's first year. I remember how head-scratchingly strange the little band standing there jumping up and down looked right before Letterman came out. Lewis does a fantastic job, I think this was one of the best Letterman interviews ever because Lewis was absolutely great (like Johnny Carson, Letterman can't really interview, just react--for an interview, look to Dick Cavett). It's odd but everyone asks Jerry Lewis about Dean Martin but nobody ever asked Martin about Lewis.

And in the opening, the joke about leaving your door unlocked if you live in a police station here in New York City was quite true back then. And I remember the intro using the catch phrase "The Most Dangerous City in America" before swooping the camera through the Old Towne Bar just above Union Square, which it most certainly the fuck was. The city was a completely different place in terms of peoples' behaviors. The Clinton prosperity later civilized New York but back then it was absolutely wild almost beyond imagining, with drivers literally trying to run you down in Midtown because they knew they wouldn't get into any trouble for it, and cops patrolling Times Square with axe handles on thongs instead of billy clubs, and I'm not making either of those up. The first time I saw the axe handles, I asked someone about that, and he said, "Can you blame them?" At midnight the lights of Times Square would go out and you could see the gangs come out up and down the blocks, at which point it was time to duck in somewhere or pull out your pistol. Now people are routinely pushing baby strollers around there at 3am.

Kliph, I keep telling people that you should be conducting the Archive of American Television interviews. All of them. Have you seen the one of Howard Morris? The girl interviewing him just kept chirping, "How did you get that job?" over and over and over and over as she went down the list of his fabulous career, and he was so disgusted from the word go that the interview itself--of Howard Morris--came off dull, almost an impossibility. Behold it if you haven't seen it but have a drink or something ready for immediately afterward to try to relax in the wake of it.