On Friday, PBS aired a 30-minute documentary on The Friars Club, a legendary comedy institution, as part of their “Treasures of New York” series.
The Friars Club has been a second home to countless comedians and celebrities for decades. The Friars’ annual roasts served as the impetus for Comedy Central’s Roast shows, their highest-rated programming.
The documentary features clips from the famed Friars Roasts, whose targets have included Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, Bruce Willis, Sammy Davis Jr., Alan King, Redd Foxx, and Quentin Tarantino, among many more. The Friars Roasts are occasionally the source of controversy. In 1993, Ted Danson wore blackface to the Friars Roast of his then-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg, who defended Danson’s bit. This incident is discussed in the doc.
The clips are interspersed with exclusive interviews with famous Friars, including Jeff Ross, Lisa Lampanelli, Jerry Lewis, Joy Behar, Larry King, Susie Essman, and Alan Zweibel. Zweibel, who co-wrote 700 Sundays with Billy Crystal, said that acceptance as a member in The Friars Club meant that “you arrived.”
Watch the full episode on the New York landmark on thirteen.org