Jerry’s recent death seems to have been rather passed over by the media. He was a massive comedy hero of mine in the late 1980s. In those days, you could turn on terrestrial TV of an afternoon and stumble across one of his movies.
My dad first introduced me to ‘The Disorderly Orderly’, his Frank Tashlin-directed 1964 hit, and I was a fan from then on (though even my teenage self quickly twigged that the quality of his ‘solo’ films trailed off pretty rapidly after that).
I loved the improvisatory schtick, lack of ‘character’ guff (though sentimentality was never far away), his verbal tics and physical manifestations. I also spotted some connections to other favourites of mine in the ’80s: the early films of Woody Allen, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin and, a bit later, Jim Carrey.
So here are a few routines from those movies watched in the ’80s that have stuck in my head, by way of tribute. It’s probably way too much Jerry in one go, but what the hell…
‘The Errand Boy’ (1961)
‘The Nutty Professor’ (1963)
‘The Disorderly Orderly’ (1964)
‘The Family Jewels’ (1965)
‘The King Of Comedy’ (1982)