15 Sickest Burns From the Untelevised Friars Club Roasts
In 1998, Comedy Central made history with the first-ever broadcast of a Friars Club roast, with comic Drew Carey in the hot seat. The roasts were instantly popular due to the heartless punchlines, but Carey wasn’t the first guest of dishonor. In fact, the Friars Club and its members had taken off the gloves and pummeled their esteemed guests for decades before Carey got his.
In the New York Friars Club Book of Roasts, Barry Dougherty combed through the club’s audio archives to share the best of the nasty, profane insults, often from roasters you’d never expect to drop F-bombs. Here are some of the celebs who got the sick-burn treatment in the early years... (Warning: Salty language ahead.)
At his 1955 roast, Bogie heard these beauties:
- Alan King: “Mr. Bogart plays a prick in most of his pictures, and I think it was a fair exchange.”
- Jack Dempsey said Bogart had to “jerk off twice this morning just to get his heart started.”
- From Bob Hope via telegram: “Fuck you and the seven little Foys.”
In 1960 at the ripe old age of 64 (Burns would live to be 100), Burns took his turn in the roasting pot.
- Phil Silvers: “We have gotten quite a few complaints in the few days George has been here. At various times at the bridge table, he has called various members cocksucker, prick and fascist. We’ve looked into it, George, but nothing will be done because in each case, you were right.”
- Al Bernie: “I want to point out one thing to George Burns. According to Freud, a cigar is a phallic symbol. This may come as a shock, but for years, you have been smoking your cock.”
The king of comedy insults got a taste of his own medicine when the Friars lined up to abuse him in 1968.
- Jack E. Leonard: “Don has been doing my act for about 12 years now, and I’m here to make a citizen’s arrest. I don’t mind the guy stealing my act, but he stole my hair too.”
- Flip Wilson: “Don has never made a negative remark about Flip Wilson. I mean, he knows that you guys will take that shit, but if I ever hear that Don Rickles said one word about me, I’ll stand in the goddamn alley with a brick one night and I’ll dislocate his head.”
- Jackie Vernon: “If I had a head like yours, I’d have it circumcised.”
- Ed Sullivan: “Fuck you. You bald-headed bastard. You’ve made your last appearance on CBS.”
- Johnny Carson: “Don’s act has all the subtlety of an elephant’s prick. He couldn’t ad-lib a fart after a Boston baked bean dinner.”
Oh boy. Comics knew to be careful when it came to insulting the Chairman of the Board, but they got in a few shots nonetheless back in 1976.
- Milton Berle: “I’ll tell you why we’re all up here tonight, and I’ll tell it to you in one word — fear.” He followed it up with this one: “I’ve never seen such a crowd. I would have said mob, but you know how sensitive he is.”
- Pat Henry: “Frank, this isn’t your kind of audience, there’s a lot of people here with necks. … Frank was very sick, and one by one we were allowed to go into his room and visit. We’d kiss his ring. I don’t mind, but he usually had it in his back pocket.”
When Reynolds was roasted in 1981, it was Johnny Carson who got off all the best lines. Here are a few of Carson’s meanest zingers:
- “We are gathered here tonight for one purpose, to watch Burt Reynolds give the finest acting performance of his career — being humble, generous, warm, loving, charitable. And to become the world’s #1 box office star without possessing any of those qualities is quite an achievement.”
- “Some critics put down Burt, saying he lacks range and depth. But I ask you this: Could Lord Olivier jump a ravine in a Chevy pickup?”
- “A lot of people have compared Burt to Cary Grant, but I don’t think Cary would go to a posh French restaurant and ask to see the Gatorade list.”