For the last few years, Hollywood actor-turned-zombie Jerry Lewis has been lurking within the stages of ABC’s historic New Jersey production studios. Much like the infamous Phantom of the Opera, the recently deceased philanthropist rests patiently in the depths of a poorly lit dressing room, repeatedly getting excited at the faint sound of creaking wheelchair tires, only to discover it is actually just a mobile camera cart recently borrowed from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
When the lights are dim and the crew goes home, it is Jerry’s time to shine. He rises in his dark tan suit and slowly walks to the stage, eager to introduce the next guest. He cuts to a nonexistent commercial, and then reads large imaginary numbers off of large imaginary thermometers. Inviting viewers to meet little Kenny, a boy (who is actually a mop) with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (a broken handle) who is sitting in a wheelchair (a bucket). Jerry strokes the mop softly and asks it to smile for the generous folks at home.
He envisions a phone number scrolling across the screen, and softly whispers his jingle:
Help them little sick kids
Make their next Christmas merry
Please give us your money
But this time, the phones do not ring. Instead, Kevin Hart reveals himself from the back row of the audience and walks onto the stage. He gives zombie Jerry a hug and reassures him that he will continue his legacy, and that the exploitation of vulnerable disabled children will never end. “It’s more complicated than that,” says Jerry before Kevin places a finger on his lips to shush him. All is right in the world, and the two able-bodied men laugh in unison as the sun begins to rise. Happy Labor Day, kids.