January 8-14, 1999


True Wit

Did he or did he not murder his Latin teacher at the age of 14? It sounds like a mystery for Sherlock Holmes, with whom British humorist Martin Lewis happens to identify.

"Half of me is a stunningly incompetent Holmes, consistently failing to solve the mysteries of life, career and romance," he ruminates. "The other half is a gloriously bitchy Dr. Watson, gleefully chronicling all my failures. It's very economic. I'm my own Boswell."

The 40-something Lewis -- whose satiric political comedy has been a staple on Politically Incorrect and many other TV slots -- is also perhaps his own Leonardo, a true Renaissance man who seems to have done just about everything in the world of entertainment.

His impressive credits include producing stage shows, films and records with Monty Python, guest slots on network shows with Tom Arnold, Richard Lewis and Lynn Redgrave, producing television specials on Princess Diana and the Beatles, curating film events for the American Cinematheque and the Motion Picture Academy, and providing savvy material for Dudley Moore, Graham Chapman, Zsa Zsa Gabor and other celebs.

This week the ultra-high-energy Lewis, whose machine-gun style delivery of sardonic observations is sweetened by an irrepressible exuberance, premieres his first autobiographical one-man stage show, Great Exploitations!, one of the two comedic works selected for the Los Angeles performing arts festival SOLO '99 -- the Second Annual Festival of One-Person Shows.

Lewis insists that Great Exploitations! is a "gospel-true" story that begins in his 14th year, when he claims to have kissed his first girl, penned four songs that were recorded by the Beatles, and murdered his Latin teacher. Well . . . "I didn't really kiss the girl," Lewis admits. "It was more of an adolescent lunge . . ."

If the Christmas card he sent out this year -- a teaser for the show -- is any indication, we are sure to be deliciously offended; at the top of the card -- which refers to Lewis' recent humorous commentary on the Clinton travails on MSNBC and other networks -- is a pseudo-sanctimonious quote from the Book of Job: "And mighty was effect of the blow Job received . . ."

That's the sort of wit I call unimpeachable.

- Mary Beth Crain

The Martin Lewis Homepage