Advertisement
 
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Amsterdam, NY ,
Advertisement

Insult king Don Rickles being honored in Spike TV tribute

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - Updated: 7:00 AM

By FRAZIER MOORE

The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Don Rickles engages in what might be called Comedy S and M. He insults audience members and they laugh and beg for more.

It's a manic, lacerating style Rickles has commanded for a half-century-plus.

Now he's being feted by Spike TV with a 90-minute special, "One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute." A black-tie affair taped earlier this month at Harlem's storied Apollo Theater, it airs today at 9 p.m., packed with love and a healthy dose of bile.

"We wanted to honor your memory, Don, so here we are," says Martin Scorsese, firing a zinger at the spirited but frail-looking Rickles seated stage-side -- "though if I'd been directing this, I don't think I would have gone for the open casket."

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey deliver their own saucy slam at Rickles' advanced age.

Fey: "It's almost like he's here with us. You can feel his spirit in this room tonight."

Poehler: "Tina! He IS here."

Fey (casting a look in Rickles' direction): "I thought that was somebody's purse."

Other stars on hand include Jerry Seinfeld, Robert De Niro, Regis Philbin, Tracy Morgan, Brian Williams and Jon Stewart.

David Letterman fondly remembers first meeting Rickles "at a Scientology mixer."

A worshipful Johnny Depp claims Rickles drove him into therapy. He explains that, on their first encounter, he was unprepared for what a nice man Rickles really is. The insults Depp kept expecting never came, "which meant to me at the time that he clearly hated me."

To his fans, insult-craving is a big part of Rickles' charm. He inspires you to imagine what he'd say about YOU if you were lucky enough to land in his comic cross hairs. You identify with Rickles' "victims," laugh at them -- and want to be one, too.

For those a little fuzzy on Rickles' tongue-lashing past, the program includes clips of him filleting such luminaries as Johnny Carson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra, the Rev. Billy Graham and President Ronald Reagan.

There are also filmed tributes from Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Kimmel and, hilariously, Rickles' longtime pal Bob Newhart.

Then, when the time comes for Rickles to speak, he doesn't hold back.

"I'm so thrilled as I look around the room that I'm the biggest name here," he begins. But before he's done, he's gotten downright sentimental.

"It was a kind, beautiful tribute, a great night," Rickles said by phone a few days later, then went on to account for his trademark insult style: "It was in my personality, my attitude, ever since I was a kid."

But if he was a natural-born weisenheimer, he always took care to "never be hurtful, never below-the-belt."

Some witnesses might dispute that, but most within earshot of Rickles' tirades get the joke -- especially those who recognize that this fiery little man is, underneath, an old softie.

But does Rickles ever worry that someone might mistake the "Merchant of Venom" for his real personality?

"A couple of days ago I'm 88," said Rickles, whereupon he treated his interviewer with a jab of Rickles sarcasm ("Thanks for the gift, by the way") before continuing, "and when you're 88, you got no time to worry.

"Not everyone's gonna love ya," he said gently. "But when you get a majority on your side, you've got a chance."

     

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Advertisement
The Recorder Sports Schedule

 

The Recorder Newscast

Most Popular

    Ovechkin, Chimera lead Caps past Rangers
    Monday, March 30, 2015

    Sheriff's office investigating foreclosure company
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Michael T. Bintz
    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    F-FCS athletes Board eyeing tougher rules
    Friday, March 27, 2015

    Amsterdam native's wife endorsed for Nevada Senate post
    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Best friends in life playing best friends in a high school musical
    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    Man burned by vehicle fire
    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Hot dog fans in Amsterdam are about to learn why everybody loves a wiener
    Monday, March 30, 2015

    Second lawsuit is filed in Palatine
    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Division Street residents just want a place to park
    Friday, March 27, 2015

Advertisement

Copyright © Port Jackson Media

Privacy Policies: The Recorder

Contact Us

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook