Friday, January 29, 2010

Dean and Me, by Jerry Lewis

Well, this was definitely an awesome read. I learned so much from it, so I'm glad I listened to Annette when she recommended it to me. It's not what I usually read, but the story was amazing. These two guys, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, are one of my favorite comedy teams of old, and now that I've read the story behind their beginnings and successes, I respect them all the more. I think everyone should read their story.

Okay, who am I talking about here? Who are these guys, Jerry and Dean? Well, Jerry Lewis is pretty much the king of comedy. He's been in scores of funny movies that he also usually directs and writes, including "Rock-a-Bye Baby," "The Nutty Professor," and "The Disorderly Orderly," and so many more. Those are just some of my favorites. Jerry is one of the comedians my younger brother, Adam, idolizes. His face is made of rubber, he talks like a little kid, and nearly everything he does makes you want to laugh. Dean Martin is also a really funny guy. He was in many movies himself, though I haven't seen many of those. He's more famous for starring in "The Dean Martin Variety Show," which was full of hilarious skits and guest stars, and for being a prominent member of the Rat Pack, a group of handsome crooners that also included Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr, among others.

Jerry wrote this book (Dean was dead by then), so it was all from his point of view. It tells of how he and Dean became such close partners in comedy. They made the perfect team. Dean Martin was the handsome crooner, the straight man, but he still had a very sharp sense of humor. Jerry Lewis was the crazy guy, the monkey, the one who made funny faces and pratfalls. He was like a little kid, and Dean was the older brother he never had. And boy, when these two got together, they caused pandemonium. Everyone loved them! What seemed to separate this comedy team from all the others is that these guys were so spontaneous, they were ready for anything. No matter what the other one did, none of them ever missed a beat. And they loved what they did, which was go on a stage and make people laugh.

I learned so many things about Martin and Lewis in this book. For example, when the two of them met for the first time in 1945, Dean was about 28 and Jerry was only 19. 19 years old! I couldn't believe it... plus Jerry was already married and had a kid on the way! Such a young guy. Anyway, these guys became really close friends and they did shows, movies and all kinds of events together. Man, Jerry told such awesome stories about Dean and his speedy rise to fame.

Unfortunately, their partnership couldn't last forever. When they got reviewed in the newspapers, most of what was written was about how funny Jerry was, with Dean rarely getting any credit. In later years there was a lot of tension between them. They broke up after 10 years in 1956 and never really saw each other after that. They lived their own lives and became super famous in their own right, as I mentioned near the beginning. It's really a touching collection of stories and memories that is in this book. Everyone should know this team's tale, even if they've never hear of Martin or Lewis before. You'll laugh and think about life in showbiz several decades ago, and then when you get curious enough to find out who these guys really are, they have a ton of movies (17 of them!) and collections of their TV shows, plus there's any number of clips you can see of them on YouTube.

Here is a clip I found that demonstrates Dean and Jerry's partnership perfectly. You'll love these guys. ^_^

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