HOLLYWOOD — Alexander Payne nabbed the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. kudos for helmer, writer and film, but career achievement award winner Jerry Lewis stole the show, cracking jokes not only onstage but from his dinner seat at the St. Regis Hotel on Thursday.

After Peter Bogdanovich introduced Lewis, the comedian immediately asked the critics, “What took so goddamn long?”

Payne couldn’t put his finger on what exactly critics or audiences like about “Sideways.”

“I am trying to make a film I myself would want to see,” said Payne. “Who knows — if this film had been released at any other time, maybe it would not have been a hit, but for some reason it is the only sort of vaguely commercially accessible, pseudo-art, funny human film this year. Last year it was ‘Lost in Translation.’ ”

Brad Bird, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Joshua Marston were also on hand.