We, each and every one, is held captive, at least a bit, by our own experiences and acculturation. For many years we regaled the French spouse of a close friend of the sublime humor in the sophomoric romp “Caddyshack.” Routinely, we would repeat lines, giggling in our own command of the low-brow script. Finally, we arranged to host a private screening of the classic. Seven natives and one not-so-native viewed, with beer in hand, as Judge Elihu Smails and the now-storied cast of characters delivered our beloved one-liners.
Our sides aching from laughter, the film closed as Carl’s nemesis, a plump, dancing gopher, boogied us out of the theater to the catchy Kenny Loggins tune. Now, we turned to our continental comrade – you must surely understand why we love this film so. “Hmm,” she replied cautiously, “it was fun, but, I’m still not sure that I get it.” Crestfallen, we realize that some things might not translate. The French popularity of Jerry Lewis makes sense. The French love of Jerry Lewis is more difficult to sort out.
Variances of our perspective are difficult to sort out. Some refuse to consider the value of another point of view. And some, as if driven by some eternal shame, suppress the glory of their own. As we consider the proper role for Jerry Lewis comedy in the storehouse of great culture, is his contribution superior to that of greenskeeper Carl Spackler? Who decided what matters – and, more importantly, what doesn’t? After all, Carl’s the one who reminded us Gunga Galunga, as the frugal Dali Llama offered in leu of a caddy’s tip, “When you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness. So, I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” Yes, Carl, it is nice. Treasure it.