Jerry Lewis Birthday and Memory Test

Jerry Lewis, renown comedian, dancer, and singer

Because I was away from my computer quite a bit Saturday, March 16th, I completely missed a very important birthday. Happy 93rd birthday in heaven to one of the greatest comedians who ever lived: Jerry Lewis. I owe him a debt of gratitude for teaching me a memory test when I was 15. This is the famous “One hen, two ducks….” test.

Happy birthday, Jerry. Thanks for all the great memories you gave me in my childhood.

When I was 15, Jerry Lewis was a substitute for Jack Paar (see, it was a long time ago) on the old Tonight Show. Jerry Lewis was known for having a phenomenal memory. Sidekick Hugh Downs queried Jerry about it. Jerry related a story that when he was 16 and wanted in radio, he applied for a job. The station manager gave him a “memory test,” which he amazingly passed and got a job in radio at 16. He gave the “test” to Hugh Downs, who exceeded the average of FIVE with an astounding SEVEN.

Here is the test, Jerry passed and also gave to Hugh Downs. It is a nonsensical, numerical test. Each sentence must be repeated in order and the one being tested must go back to the beginning each time and start with ONE and go upward, adding the latest addition to the end….then, after being told the next addition, start over with ONE and go up again, adding the new one. I was smart enough to write it down as he went (he repeated it the next night due to heavy demand) and then memorized it.

Here it is: One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters, five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Don Alverzo’s tweezers, seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt, nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth, ten lyrical spherical diabolical denizens of the deep who haul stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery all at the same time. 

Here is Jerry Lewis, years later, repeating the test on the 1990 Jerry Lewis Marathon:

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