Category: Fundraiser

Jerry Lewis ousted from MDA telethon -- and comics are outraged

Comedian Paul Rodriguez is joined by other comics at the Laugh Factory on August 5, 2011 to announce a campaign to have Jerry Lewis reinstated as host of the annual MDA Telethon. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Jerry Lewis has been ousted from the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. telethon he has hosted for nearly half a century -- and the comedy community is outraged.

On Wednesday night, the MDA released a statement saying it was severing its association with the 85-year-old performer. Lewis won't appear on this year's Labor Day weekend telethon.

The announcement provoked an outcry from the comedy community, even as the circumstances surrounding Lewis' departure remained mysterious.  Here’s what some of L.A.’s comics had to say:

Tom Arnold: "Younger comics were coming out [to the show] for Jerry Lewis. Jerry let them fly. They would use the word ‘genius’ -- and he certainly is. It’s been handled so poorly. To me, Jerry should be able to come back and say goodbye.... It's probably time for him to retire.  But he should get to say goodbye. They screwed up. If they'd promoted this as Jerry Lewis' final telethon they could've gotten guys like George Clooney, which would've opened the door to God knows who. It would've been a big deal and showbiz loves big deals."

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