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Jerry Stiller Gets Roasted

The annual roast of the Friars Club, a fraternal organization for comedians, is a big honor - and yet can be a major embarrassment.

This year's roastee was Jerry Stiller, who plays Arthur Spooner on the CBS sitcom King of Queens. CBS News This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen reports.


Stiller, known to many as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, has been entertaining audiences for nearly half a century.

The roast was an opportunity for friends and family to pay tribute in their own special way. Last year Drew Carey was in the hot seat.

"It was the first time I've ever attended a live roast," Stiller notes.

Alan King set the evening's tone as the headmaster of the asylum, Stiller quips. King established the feeling of a fraternal organization where anyone can say practically anything. "And if you don't say these kind of things, you are being prudish," Stiller notes.

Commenting on a film about past honorees, he says: "Many of them were my icons: Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Sammy Davis Jr.," he says. "But I said, 'I don't know if I fit in that category; I don't do standup comedy.'"

The type of performance that Stiller is known for does not involve off-color humor, he notes.

"When you get to be my age, you've heard of everything. I'm trying to grow up in my dotage of obscenity. I've used curse words like anyone else. But I'm very puritanical," he notes.

A favorite part of the evening was a sexy dance number he did with Sandra Bernhard as she sang "Magic Man." Another one was hearing King of Queens cast member Kevin James say he couldn't say anything bad against Stiller.

"This is not my forte. I'm not great at saying mean-spirited things about people I love, like, Jerry Stiller," James said.

"Fortunately, the writers on my show don't feel the same way. Jerry comes from a magical time when you didn't really have to accomplish that much to be famous," said James.

Jason Alexander, who had played Stiller's son on Seinfeld served as the emcee.

Working on Seinfeld was a cultural event, Stiller recalls. "Jason Alexander, especially, along with everyone else, Jerry [Seinfeld] included,Â… I guess they were very warming towards me. They formed like a womb around me when I got on the show for the first time," he says.

"Jason especially was willing to open himself up because he said, 'Jerry don't be afraid to hit me,'" Stiller recalls.

"I said, 'What do you mean, Jason?'" he adds.

"He says, 'You're going to be my father.'...After I hit him, there was a huge laugh," Stiller remembers.

"There was no air between us. We were father and son. Everything that came out in my real life [that] I could never act toward my son then I could do toward Jason," Stiller adds.

For the second time in Friars Club history, television cameras captured the annuaroast. This year's event will air Oct. 27 at 10:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.

Attendees included two at one point named New York City mayors, Police Commissioner Howard Safir, The Golden Girls' Bea Arthur, Dr. Ruth, The Brady Bunch's Florence Henderson, and comedian Janeane Garofalo, he notes.

Stiller and his son Ben are working on a movie, The Suburbans, and he just finished the film A Fish in the Bathtub with his wife Anne Meara.

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