BetteBack October 22, 1974: The Disasterous Roast Of Johnny Carson

Star News
October 22, 1974


Johnny Carson explained to Filmland friends Saturday evening. .”I’ve married three times because, as a concerned American . I’ve wanted to spread the wealth more evenly among the populace.”

And that was about the funniest line to come out of The Friars’ Club Charity Roast honoring “The King Who Rules Midnight.”

Perhaps never have so many comedians laid such a massive quantity of eggs as were hatched at the dais ol the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel Saturday evening. The head table consisted of a multimillion dollars worth of talent – including Lucille Ball, George Burns. Red Buttons., Buddy Hackett. Bob Hope. Alan King, Bette Midler. Jan Murray. Carroll O’Connor. Burt Reynolds and Don Rickles. yet by the end of the program even the professional comedians who are usually each other’s most appreciative audience’ had trouble not lookhig bored.

The 62-year-old Lucy looked absolutely hostile when Rickles made reference to her advancing years.

George Burns did provide class lo the proceedings – and a lesson to such “youngsters” as Buddy Hackett that you don’t have lo be dirty to be funny.

“Tonight Show” writer Pat McC’ormack provided laughs with the line. “You can get high from the smell of toupe glue on ibis dais.”

And Jan Murray provided embarrassment when he evidenced bitterness instead of humor, announcing . “Only those privileged enough lo be close to Johnny should tell jokes about him. and the only times I’ve been on his show during the last seven years have been when he’s been away and Joey Bishop’s been host. It’s Bishop 1 owe thanks to ”

Carroll O’Connor proved anew that as a stand-up comedian he makes one heck of a straight actor. After his turn at the mike. Bob Hope commented. “I love these guys who get up here with no material.”

Burt Reynolds’ material included a zinger at Hope , wishing him luck on his next movie. “On The Road To Senility.”

It was that sort of evening: a sprinkling of laughs that couldn’t drown out the feeling that the outrageous, spontaneous hilarity of the “roast” format has perhaps burned itself out. Alan King summed it up best, when he said lo those at the head table, “I hope you all live as long as this evening has seemed to me.”

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