Americans Remember Comedians, Activists Lewis and Gregory
This is What’s Trending Today…
Jerry Lewis, one of the busiest comedians and actors the U.S. has ever seen, died Sunday at the age of 91. The day before, Dick Gregory, a comedian and political activist, died at 84.
Gregory was one of the first African-American comedians to find success with white audiences in the 1960s. He was known for making jokes and commenting on the differences between black Americans and white Americans early in the civil rights movement.
Lewis rose to fame in the 1940s and 1950s while working with comedy partner Dean Martin. He stayed busy working in movies, television and comedy for another 60 years. He was busy promoting a movie as recently as a year ago.
Lewis is known for his movies, including “The Bellboy” and “The Nutty Professor.” He also performed on stage, including a role as the devil in “Damn Yankees.”
While Lewis was known for his comedy in the United States, he was loved as an actor in France. The French government gave Lewis a pair of important awards in the 1980s.
Gregory left his comedy career to fight for social causes, including Middle East peace, animal rights and equal rights for women. He also worked in the 1980s to promote a way of natural eating he called the “Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet.”
Gregory even received over 200,000 votes for president in 1968 as the candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party.
Off stage, Lewis worked to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disease that causes people to lose their muscle mass. It can eventually cause death as it weakens muscles in the heart and those that are responsible for breathing.
He raised $1.5 billion over about 50 years.
The kind of comedy practiced by Lewis, relying on physical movement for humor, is called “slapstick.” Jim Carrey, a slapstick comedian like Lewis, expressed his appreciation over Twitter.
“That fool was no dummy,” he wrote, calling Lewis an “undeniable genius.” Carrey said he could not have had his success without Lewis coming first.
That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was! ;^D
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 20, 2017
Comedian Lewis Black wrote about Gregory and Lewis dying on the same weekend.
“I guess after this week,” he wrote on Twitter, “even God was desperate for a laugh.”
First Dick Gregory and then Jerry Lewis. The Yin and the Yang of Comedy. I guess after this week even God was desperate for a laugh.
— Lewis Black (@TheLewisBlack) August 20, 2017
And that’s What’s Trending Today.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on reports from the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor.