There are three certain things in life: death, taxes, and Jerry Lewis’s failure to recognize the legitimacy of female comedians.
In an era of tremendously successful and critically-acclaimed comedic females in television, film, and stand-up comedy, it is rare that an individual as globally-renowned as Lewis would openly reject the ingenious talent and achievements in entertainment due to the gender of the performers.
When asked by an audience member for his favorite female comics, the eighty-seven-year-old Lewis expressed his dismissal of female comedians during a Cannes Film Festival press conference on Thursday, listing Carey Grant and Burt Reynolds before adding, “I don’t have any.”
Lewis was also asked for his opinion on female comedic performers such as Melissa McCarthy and Sarah Silverman performing broad comedy, for which he responded, “I can’t see women doing that. It bothers me. I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator. I just can’t do that.”
Lewis was attending the Cannes Film Festival in support of the premiere of the Daniel Noah directed film “Max Rose,” a drama in which Lewis stars as an aging jazz musician.
This is not the first time that Lewis has raised controversy over his views on women in comedy. In a 1998 interview with the Associated Press, Lewis stated that he did not like female comedians and “A woman doing comedy doesn’t offend me but sets me back a bit. I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.”
Tina Fey, a notable female comedic actor and writer known for her previous roles in such television shows as “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock”, commented on Lewis’s attitudes towards females in comedy in her 2011 memoir “Bossypants”.
Fey wrote, “…Whenever someone says to me, ‘Jerry Lewis says women aren’t funny, […] Do you have anything to say to that?’ Yes. We don’t f***ing care if you like it.”