This was originally a television production from the Kraft Music Hall, but being an audio podcast, here’s the sound track of it. With the nature of the roast, it still works well since the comedy doesn’t rely on sight gags. Among the star studded presenters are: Milton Berle, George Burns, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Ed Sullivan, and Johnny Carson. At the time, Spiro Agnew was Vice President, and gets the jokes started.
Johnny Carson is the Roast Master who moves the activity along. Topics through the show include military service, taxes and finance, being oldPhil Harris and Dennis Day share some inside secrets about working with Jack. Especially how he formed their characters.
Milton takes time to tease the other panelists before casting his attentions towards Jack. There’s a racy mention leaning towards homosexuality, but Jack adlibs right back. More of Jack’s oldest friends put in their jokes and tributes as they tell of Jack’s early years. Of course, take it with a grain of salt since the mix of facts and humor is designed for laughs, not for truth.
It takes a really close, and long time friend like George Burns to get in the best laughs. And he does. George shares a few classic moments in trying to make Jack laugh with some of the pranks he has pulled on him. Stand by though, Jack gets in his own classic come backs.
Note: This first appeared on the podcast with comments by Keith, and can be found with Friars Club Roast – Jack Benny. 700121. (retro385).