October 03, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Richard Lewis would seem to have little to kvetch about. He has a new ABC series, Hiller and Diller, and his great notices in the ensemble drama Drunks, just out on tape, proved he can entertain without punchlines. Still the comedic Prince of Pain loves to put himself down. Lewis ranks Buster Keaton as his favorite silent comedian, because Keaton is ”the flip side of me,” he says. ”I was always taken that he could be in the middle of a cyclone and he’s, like, looking at a hangnail. I would be calling 911 in 400 different countries. I want to be that serene. I like Steamboat Bill, Jr. [1928, Kino, above] because Keaton’s father in the film is this strapping guy, and it really reminded me of my relationship with my father. He was a caterer, but he was the Babe Ruth of caterers.”

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