Roasts and Toasts

by Editorial

Carlin’s black humor and anti-establishment views made him a revered figure among his peers. “George was a big deal,” Gary Shandling said. “He was part mentor, a big influence, and a gigantically still underestimated comedian.” Jon Stewart wasn’t too worried about job security or whether the Obama administration would provide enough comic material. “Comedians are like cockroaches and strippers,” he said. “They keep coming back.” And Lily Tomlin would have no problem reprising her role as the resident telephone operator on “Laugh In” to become a presidential greeter. “Come on in. Welcome to the Obamas’ house.” Comedians Richard Belzer, Bill Maher, Denis Leary, Lewis Black, and Margaret Cho also paid tribute to Carlin, the first posthumous recipient in the award’s 11-year history.


Journalists covering the annual Spina Bifida Roast at the Washington Hilton were instructed by late night talk show host Steven Colbert not to dare speak to him. Colbert notwithstanding, other high-profile guests, including newly-named Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, were excited and chatty, especially about the election. Even Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino was energetic when speaking about the Obamas’ recent visit to The White House. “It was quite electric,” she said warmly. How did Sen. Orrin Hatch feel about the election? “In a lot of ways I think it will be good for America. It just says that we are getting out of our racist past.” What was it like to moderate one of the historic debates for Newshour’s Jim Lehrer? “I felt the whole time how important it was.” CBS’s Bob Scheiffer thought it was fun to watch all the parlor games. For Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, the Obama win was reminiscent of JFK’s. “We have not had this kind of excitement since 1960,” he said. “It’s a national sense of euphoria,” D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton pronounced.


Actress Kathleen Turner at the Nov. 6 Knock Out Abuse Gala at The Ritz Carlton when asked about the Obama victory: “Are you kidding? I was sooo thrilled that I joined a group of political lady friends for an 8:30 a.m. breakfast where we unplugged a magnum of champagne. It was a wonderful morning thereafter.”


No, we’re not talking about Abba, but rather Italian actress and sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida, whose perpetual attendance at the National Italian America Foundation’s weekend is the real annual event. The “Cleopatra”-clad beauty joined Barbara Sinatra, Yogi Berra, Deana Martin, former Ambassador to the Holy See Jim Nicholson, hockey great Phil Esposito, singer Jerry Vail, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at an intimate dinner the night preceding the gala hosted by Café Milano proprietor Franco Nuschese. The Saturday evening main event was like a Macy’s parade on steroids as honorees joined notable Italians and Italian-Americans walking the red carpet to enthusiastic applause. Noticeably missing was featured awardee Leonardo DiCaprio, said to be recuperating from pneumonia. Accepting on his behalf was his father. “I am so humbled by this prestigious honor,” George DiCaprio told the crowd. My ancestors traveled from the knee of the boot, Naples, to have their sons and daughters live the American dream.” Miss Lollobrigida, 81, professed surprise at receiving the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award by noting in her acceptance speech that it was “a little premature, as I have a lot more work to do.” Podium guests included Ignazio La Russa, Italy’s minister of defense, and Justice Samuel Alito Jr.

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