Howie Mandel on Jerry Lewis: “He’s a true filmmaking genius”

NBC/Art Streiber(LOS ANGELES) — Comedian and America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel got to work with late comedy legend Jerry Lewis when Lewis directed an episode of Mandel’s short-lived Fox sitcom Good Grief.  At a taping of AGT, Mandel paused to remember Lewis, who died Sunday at 91.

“Anybody who’s in comedy has been influenced by him in some way,” Mandel said. 

Specifically, he added, there were things he personally took from Lewis. “I think that my silliness is inspired by him,” Mandel said.  “I think that I looked up to him as [far as] physical comedy…his constant childlike quality that he had, and he exuded, right into his 90.”

Beyond comedy, Mandel added that Lewis impact on filmmaking is less widely known, and under appreciated.  Lewis is widely credited with being a pioneer in using video alongside film so directors could see what they were working on instantly, way back in 1960; although the oft-quoted story that he invented the well-known Video Assist system which did something similar is not true. And Lewis was known in the industry as an early adopter of an audio tape recorder that became an industry standard.

“He’s a true filmmaking genius,” Mandel said of Lewis. “The word brilliant is thrown out a lot for no reason, I think it applies here.”

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