Comedians react to the death of Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory

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“Without Jerry Lewis we would never of had Jim Carrey or Steve Martin or Martin Short and even Andrew Dice Clay – who was inspired by Jerry’s Buddy Love character from ‘The Nutty Professor.'”
That’s according to comedian and co-owner of Laugh Factory Comedy Club in Las Vegas, Harry Basil.
“Jerry was inspired by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin be he took it to a whole new level and in nightclubs and in film and television,” says Basil.
“When I was a little kid I was just totally, I wanted him to be my dad, I loved him so much. Now that I am part owner of Laugh Factory comedy club in Las Vegas we have a whole half of the comedy club is dedicated to Jerry Lewis. We have the Dean and Jerry bar and a display case with an amazing collection of Jerry Lewis memorabilia.”
Comedian/actor Brian Babylon says Lewis will be remembered as a comedian that often “pushed the boundaries.”
“Probably people be like ‘I don’t know if you can do that Jerry.’ And he would probably push back then he knew that ‘hey I might lose that battle but there’s another battle to win.’ He would always pick his battles, probably.”,” said Babylon.
Comedy veteran Tom Dreesen said, as well as his performances, Lewis will be remembered for his work raising money as the teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons.
Lewis became known as the ringmaster of the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association, which from the 1960s onward, the telethons raised some $1.5 billion, including more than $60 million in 2009.
“If they ever find a cure for muscular dystrophy and they don’t build a monument to this man, there’s no justice in this society,” said Dreesen.
Lewis died Sunday (20 AUG. 2017) morning of natural causes at age 91 in Las Vegas with his family by his side.
The comedy scene suffered another loss at the weekend with the death of Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s. He was 84.
“Dick Gregory was an outstanding standup comedian and could of had an incredible standup comedy career but that wasn’t his passion. His passion was civil rights,” said Dreesen,
“So he gave up this wonderful comedy career, even though he did it on occasion and stuff like that. But he gave up focusing on nothing but standup comedy but he focused on civil rights and therefore gave up an awful lot of money and maybe an awful lot more fame. But he gave it up because his passion was civil justice.”
As well as his work with civil rights, Gregory also changed the face of black comedy, turning into a “true art form,” says Babylon.
“When he came up, black comedy back then, a lot of black comics were doing Minstral type of comedy, sort of making fun of black people. Where he took another direction and he just made it smart. He was writing jokes and not just funny anecdotes that you would act out, he would actually have wordplay and say words with a purpose of being funny and smart.”
Gregory died late Saturday in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection.

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