Being a (mostly) football blogger for an ultra popular smutsite and having a middling stand up comedy career is not without its perks. And yesterday was one of them as I was recruited by the Friar’s Club to write jokes for the NFL’s first ever pre-Super Bowl Celebrity Roast honoring Boomer Esiason. In case you don’t know, the Friar’s Club is the Valhalla of comedy. Or to put it more accurately, its Thunderdome. The gathering place for all the greats in the world to come at each other in no-holds-barred, verbal abuse. And being asked to set up shop at the intersection of Football Street and Comedy Ave was quite an honor.
On the other hand, when the football in question is a multi-billion dollar corporation like the NFL and the comedy is the Friar’s brand of “sacred cows make the best hamburgers” un-PC insult humor, that intersection can turn into a major 50 car pile up. As we found out the hard way. Anyway, here’s the running diary I kept of the event:
11AM. Manhattan. I don’t know what downtown NYC usually looks like, but the police presence there now is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s like the night the Bruins won the Stanley Cup with an exponent of 10. Mobile command centers like the EM-50 from “Stripes” on every block. If anyone tries any monkey business during the Super Bowl I promise you their whole family tree will be wiped off the face of the Earth before they put a scratch on this town.
11:30 AM. The Waldorf-Astoria. Judging by the fact that every lobby, hallway and foyer in the place looks like the tour of the Newport mansions we went to on my 6th grade field trip, I’m guessing a one night stay costs more than my mortgage payment. It’s nice for once to be in a hotel that doesn’t have a marquee out front advertising their free phone and WiFi.
11:45. The grand ballroom. I’m seated up on the second floor balcony with the other writers from the Friars. There’s an Academy Awards-style gift bag waiting on every chair. It contains: Charlie perfume, a stress ball shaped like an apple, men’s moisturizer, lipstick, a paperback book about Ronald Reagan and the hardcover edition of Suzanne Somers “Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones,” with her botoxed, airbrushed picture on the cover.
11:55. Jordin Sparks sings the National Anthem. Since she also sang it before the Super Bowl That Shall Not Be Named II, my PTSD starts kicking in. By the way, remember when winning “American Idol” meant you’d be the Next Big Thing and dominate the Pop Music charts? Now it means you get to sing the Anthem. She seems thrilled to be her, probably since her gigs are mostly Minor League ballgames and country fairs.
Noon. The show is about to begin. Larry King comes out to kick things off with a story about Danny Kaye and his urologist. That was the first inkling I had this wasn’t going to be a show for everybody. King acknowledges some of the dignitaries in the crowd including Robert Kraft, seated at a table somewhere down front. I try to find him but the place could double as a blimp hangar and from that distance it’s “Where’s Waldo.” King also points out Victor Cruz and mentions the incredible catch he made in the Super Bowl. Wrong, Larry. Cruz is the one NY Giant wideout who DIDN’T make a ridiculous grab in the Super Bowl that ruined my life. Thanks for bringing it up.
12:05. Giants owner Jonathan Tisch makes a few remarks, pretty much droning on just to keep the “Let’s torture the few Patriots fans in the room” theme going. He ends it by spiking both Lombardi Trophies right in Mr. Kraft’s Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese and Endive.
12:06. The tables all have wine and buckets of what look to be beer. Instead they’re something called Redd’s Strawberry Ale. Ordinarily I wouldn’t use one as a marinade but since Redd took the time to provide them (and not charge me anything) I give it a shot. It tastes like one of my kid’s CapriSuns and makes my genitalia retract up into my body cavity like the landing gear on a jet.
12:10. An older guy from the Friars named (I think) Lewis Stone follows Tisch and immediately calls him “a boring Jew.” Hysterical. Now we’re talking. He then starts berating all the billionaires in the room to bid on auction prizes that averaged about $20 grand apiece. And he acknowledges Jerry Lewis in the crowd with a very funny insult and Lewis came right back at him with something else good. I realize that not only has Lewis NOT gone all Dick Clark on us, he’s the Abbott of the Friars, which makes him a god-like figure in this world.
12:15. Chris Christy is the surprise guest. He’s good. Self deprecating, comfortable, genuine. A lot of fat jokes and traffic jam stuff and Jersey Shore references. You can see where he’ll survive a scandal just because he gets it. Jeff Garlin of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is the emcee. And he sets the tone of the day by acknowledging how weird it is that Jeff Garlin of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is the emcee of a Boomer Esiason Roast. He admits he’s not that much of a football guy and how he expects some of the non-comics are going to be terrible at telling jokes.
12:20. Rich Eisen proves him right. The guy who does 20 hours of television a day on NFL Net is terrified. He reads all his jokes off the page like he’s never seen them before, flubs words and barely ever looks up. It’s obvious he’s embarrassed to be telling dick jokes to a roomful of NFL power brokers and mucky mucks.
12:25. Video messages for Boomer coming from celebrities who couldn’t be there. One of them is from an unrecognizable Ralph Macchio, who points out he and Boomer are the same age, which officially breaks my brain. He also compares him to Johnny Lawrence and signs off by telling the comics “Finish him!” Not bad. But a much better comparison was from whoever said Boomer looks like Phillip Seymour Hoffman but less muscle tone. Fantastic.
12:30. The oldest rule in showbiz is: “There’s no better way to keep the laughs rolling than by bringing up Bill Cowher.” Cowher tells long and unfunny stories about Boomer like he’s at an awards banquet. Garlin pretty much sums up the day with “Bill Cowher is to comedy, what… Bill Cowher is to comedy.”
12:40. VH1 star and former Uncle Buck Wake Up Carrie Keagan follows Cowher. We hung out a bit afterward and she was really nice…
so I’ll just say this. As a teller of jokes, she’s a gorgeous blond with an incredible body. The audience got a stick up their ass about her Boomer insults early and she could not win them, or him, back. The highlight was when she told him “You’re no Tom Brady” and he shot back “You’re no Gisele.”
12:55. Maurice Jones-Drew told jokes. And they go pretty much as you’d expect MJD telling jokes would go. It’s painfully obvious now that there are people who understand how to engage a live audience and make them laugh, and there are people you take early in your Fantasy league, and in the Venn Diagram of the two groups there is a very tiny intersection.
1:00 Jeff Ross saves the day. He’s the reigning superstar of the Roast game and shows everyone how it’s done. Unfortunately too many in the room are billionaires and corporate sponsors with thinner skin then you’ll find on an onion. So the room is divided between the comedy crowd and those who expected this would be the Heisman Trophy presentation.
1:10. Sam Wyche. For some reason Garlin insists his nickname back in his coaching days was “Pussy King.” I had never heard that and I can’t wait to hear where it comes from. And the answer… never comes. Instead Wyche showed old clips of him and Boomer back in their Cincy days. And it made us long for Bill Cowher. Or Clint Eastwood and an empty chair.
1:15. A guy comes out unannounced in a full Joe Montana uniform. He takes off the helmet and it’s Gilbert Godfried who says “Happy 25th anniversary” and leaves. Later, as the show completely goes off the rails, he comes back to the podium and proceeds to tell a joke about an old Jew and a blond that goes on for ten minutes of pure filth. “So he’s biting her tits and he’s fingering her pussy and he’s licking her ass…” and just dropping C-bombs all over the place while Boomer sits next to him, hand over his face, mortified while I and the guys I’m with cry tears of pure joy.
1:30. Real comics like Tom Cotter and Jim Norton save the end of the show from the awfulness of the football guys. Norton had a great line in particular about Boomer going from Cincy to the Jets to Arizona and back to Cincy with banging Kathy Bates, Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell then Kathy Bates again. But by now the NFL people are so offended there’s no salvaging this train wreck and everyone knows it.
2:00. The show mercifully over, I meet up with Nick Stevens, the Braintree guy who invented the “Fitzy” character and who used to do “Pocket Change” on NESN who hired me. He breaks the news to me that Mr. Kraft left early on, so “Get a Picture with Mr. Kraft” remains unchecked on my Bucket List. I feel like a 5 year old who spent a day at the Magic Kingdom and never got to see Mickey.
3:00-6:00. Nick takes me to the Friar’s Club itself for the afterparty. For a guy who’s been doing stand up for 20 years, it feels like Heaven with an open bar and mini hamburgers on toothpicks. It’s living entertainment history. I marvel at the fact I’m rubbing elbows with the best comics in America in the Lucille Ball Room and using the same urinal that once relieved Milton Berle’s legendarily massive penis. And I have the unimaginable success of Barstool to thank for it. Like I said, being a smut blogger has it’s privileges. Though based on Nick’s assessment that we were part of the “John Carter” of roasts, I doubt a Super Bowl Celebrity Roast in 2015 will be one of them.
Thanks to all for having me though. Any day your world’s collide in such a way you’re meeting Gilbert Godfried AND Boomer Esiason is a great day indeed. @JerryThornton1