UPDATED: Friars Club celebrates 50 years of 'Roasts' with new DVD set
That's what dozens of comedians and entertainers who have been "roasted" over the last 50 years by members of the Friars Club have learned. While the "roastees" know that the pointed humor directed at them is meant as a compliment and an honor, that hot seat can get blazing hot.
"I've been at some of these roasts where the strained laughter of the person being roasted is almost painful to watch," said former talk show host Dick Cavett, who has been a frequent roaster at the New York-based events. "It's sadism, although it is fun to see rich and successful people suffer. There's great wit and great writers."
Some of the most notorious roasts since the 1960s featuring some of Hollywood's most famous entertainers have been compiled in a five-disc DVD set. The boxed set is being released to coincide with the Dec. 1 roast of Quentin Tarantino, which will feature Samuel Jackson as "roastmaster."
Almost 50 years have passed since the roasts first appeared on TV, and it's the first time they've been made available to the public, Friars executives said.
Included in the package are roasts of late "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis and Milton Berle. The set also includes a disc of outtakes.
The roasts were often raucous and wild gatherings, said Cavett: "People would just pound the table, they were laughing so hard. They were having the best nights of their lives. It was humor that got under the skin and into the nerves. I was always one of the youngest ones, so I would be a little nervous. But so many famous people were around, there was sort of this dream quality about them."
The boxed set is available for sale online at www.classicfriarsroasts.com.
— Greg Braxton
UPDATED AT 12:26 p.m Nov. 8: The website on an earlier version was incorrect. It has now been changed to www.classicfriarsroasts.com.