The brilliance of Jerry Lewis

In his heyday, Jerry Lewis was the king of funny. Not just the king of comedy, the king of funny. It may seem like a frivolous distinction to make from a modern perspective, but the business of comedy and the public's perception of it has changed since Lewis ruled the roost.

In modernity, even casual comedy fans spout industry words like "set" and "tight five" as if they were veterans of the Catskills. Moreover, audiences expect comedy to serve a grander purpose than humor itself. Modern audiences demand that comedians spark intellectual conversations and shine a light on injustice through their wit to be considered worthy of their profession.

Jerry Lewis just wanted to make you laugh, and, in his era, that was enough. Maybe that's why Lewis has seemingly lost his positioning as one of the true comedic heavyweights. In terms of craftsmanship and performance skills, one can expend hours dissecting Lewis's work from an intellectual level, but, somewhat conversely, his content is gleefully silly and purposefully lacking in pretension.

In the video linked above, Jerry Lewis sits down with Dick Cavett and showcases his often underrated intelligence. Specifically, Lewis explains why a comedian should only focus on the funny while entertaining a paying audience.