This is the first New York Friars' Club Roast to be shown on television.
Coverage of the New York Friars Club Celebrity Roast of actor Chevy Chase.
Doors leader Jim Morrison may have died in Paris but France icon Jerry Lewis was alive and ready for the roasting spit by his peers. Muhammad Ali was pretty much KO’d by Joe Frazier that year but it took a lot for the roasters to get the better of Lewis. Rumor has it the roast was bumpier than the first ride the Apollo 15 astronauts took in a lunar rover that year. On the fun-factor scale it was as thrilling for Lewis as it was for those who first walked into the brand new Walt Disney World, in Florida.
Roasting Don Rickles is a comedian’s dream as he has spent his entire career roasting others. It was the year that saw the Beatles break up–and who’s to say they didn’t spend an hour with Mr. Warmth who sabotaged their cohesiveness! The car companies had their own roast going with American Motors introducing the Gremlin (a tiny mischievous imaginary being which some could say resembles Don Rickles) and Chevy coming out with the Vega (the brightest star in constellation Lyra–translation: a big ball of gas!)
One of the leading entertainers of the 20th Century, Jack Benny’s comic timing remains legendary. Be it his signature pregnant pause or his exasperated “WELL!” audiences adored the most famous cheapskate in town. His radio and television family: Eddie Anderson aka Rochester, Mel Blanc, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, and his real life wife Mary Livingston, formed one of the most beloved ensembles of the sitcom format. They were his foils to laughter and his deadpan expressions spoke volumes. Forever 39, Benny hit just the right notes in comedy-his attempts at violin playing notwithstanding.
Known to a generation of viewers as “Uncle Miltie” or “Mr. Television,” Milton Berle was the undisputed king of TV during its golden age. His popular variety show, NBC’s “Texaco Star Theater” helped to sell more TV sets in the early days of the medium than any other individual. During his tenure as head of the Friars Club he was the master of the Roasts. Nobody was safe from his skewering–or his legendary wit.
The king of late-night television, Johnny Carson dominated evening talk shows for thirty years as millions tuned in to “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Each night he held audiences spellbound and helped them keep up with the hottest movers and shakers in showbiz. Carson’s trusty sidekick Ed McMahon bellowed “Heere’s Johnny” for the last time on his farewell show on May 22, 1992. More viewers than ever watched the man who brought to life such characters as Art Fern and Carnac the Magnificent say good night one last time. The ultimate gentleman when it comes to Friars roasts, Johnny Carson let his quick wit and sophisticated sense of humor guide his clean, yet hilarious, roasting.
Documentary provides a glimpse into the legendary Friars Club, where comedians and entertainers have been taking refuge for almost half a century. Guests include: Janeane Garofalo, Pat Cooper, Jack Carter, Buddy Hackett, Red Buttons, Dolores Gavin, Karin Levinson, Alan King, Warren Yeager, Kathy Porter, Dean Ward, Steve Allen, Sid Caesar, Art Linkletter, Norm Crosby, Sheila Nevins, Phyllis Diller, Milton Berle