Al Roker, Matt Lauer and Stewie Stone
Ann Curry and Meredith Vieira
Howard Stern and wife Beth
THE FRIARSMatt Lauer On The Griddle
As Colleagues Roast Him
Story and Photos by Tim Boxer
OU can only imagine what must have been churning under NBC honcho Jeff Zucker’s shiny bald pate as the Friars skillfully skewered Matt Lauer, the famous face of NBC’s Today Show at their annual roast.
As comedian Stewie Stone, host of the luncheon at the New York Hilton, puts it: "We only roast the ones we love."
If that’s the way the Friars treat the ones they love, I shudder to think what they do to those they hate (in showbiz, the numbers must be legion).
Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal, must have been a tad ill at ease to tolerate such zingers as "I’m here to talk about that motherfucker Matt Lauer! Look around you, Matt – Stewie Stone, Pat Cooper, Abe Vigoda. That’s your future. You’ll find yourself in the Friars steam room muttering, ‘Where in the world is Matt Lauer?’"
And that’s from Lauer’s co-host, Meredith Vieira, who brazenly announced: "Of all the people I like to work with you’re No. 11. See you in the morning, asshole!"
Zucker endured heaps of humiliation from waves of comedians, besides his co-host Vieira who added for good measure, "NBC stands for Nothing But Crap."
Good sport that he is—otherwise he’d never be here, would he?—Zucker got into the game with his own side-splitting one-liners directed at Lauer, such as: "You’re handsome, you’re bald, and you’re a powerful TV personality. Oh wait, that last one is me."
The closest Zucker got to the traditional lascivious nature of a Friars roast came when he blurted out, "Matt’s half Jewish. Unfortunately for his wife, it’s the half below the waist."
Makes me wonder what kind of lines Zucker hurls at his board room meetings, especially since he tossed out this nugget: "Great turnout here. Wish we could get that on primetime."
A surprise guest was Tom Cruise who was such a hit that Lauer asked him to stay. "I can’t," Cruise said. "I have a space ship waiting."
All the other roasters—such as Richard Belzer, Jeffrey Ross, Bob Saget—were completely unrestrained in their sexually tinged barbs heaped on their target, who at times cringed in his seat. Lauer knew what he was in for and suffered the consequences like a man.
Unfortunately I can’t quote some of the most outrageously salacious lines from these talented comics so I’ll pass along only those that may be printed in a family newspaper.
Stewie Stone introduced the dais guests: Dominic Chianese of The Sopranos is the only one in America who knows where Jimmy Hoffa is buried…Abe Vigoda, was the ground cold when you got up this morning?
Jeffrey Ross: Al Roker [emcee of the roast, who lost weight] thinks he got his stomach stapled. To what, Al? To your refrigerator?...I’m a fan of Martha Stewart Living and Pat Cooper dying.
Tom Cruise (a surprise guest): Let’s raise a glass to the man we wake up to every morning only because we went to sleep with the channel on…I can’t believe I flew out here for this. Lose my number, you glib putz!
Martha Stewart: Matt is a big deal at NBC. Executives call him the Cock of the Rock…I taught him many skills, including what to do in the bedroom—such how to vacuum.
Richard Belzer kept screwing up his lines but managed to kill with: Matt was born to a Jewish father and an inflatable mother.
Bob Saget: I’m divorced. My next wife isn’t born yet.
"Goomba" John Sialiano: I feel bad for your wife. We get up with you every morning too, but we get weekends off.
Katie Couric, who maintains she gets nervous when she sees an olive with its pimento showing, nevertheless proved able to hold her own: According to his wife, Matt isn’t an early riser…He loves to eat curry. (An inside joke.)
At the end Matt Lauer thanked every speaker, even Katie Couric, who had fled her co-host perch at Today to become CBS evening news anchor. "Katie and I had a great mutual admiration society. I told her how great she is and she told me how great she is."
Lauer said that after a recent medical checkup, the doctor told him he doesn’t have long to live.
"What can I do?" Lauer asked.
"You could be roasted by the Friars," the doctor said.
"Will I live longer?"
"No, you won’t feel like living longer."