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NEW YORK — Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Brett Ratner, Harvey Keitel, Sarah Silverman and others roasted Quentin Tarantino here Wednesday at a lunch time event organized by the Friars Club.
The Friars Club Roast filled up a ballroom at midtown Manhattan’s Hilton New York hotel, with Tarantino drawing what a Friars spokesman said were 2,270 guests — a record-setting figure for the organization that has long catered to entertainment industry folks.
The roast had been pushed back due to the sudden death of Sally Menke, Tarantino’s longtime film editor and close friend.
Jackson, who served as roastmaster, called Tarantino “a walking spaghetti Western” and cited his early love for Elvis Presley and interest in diverse film genres, including urban movies. He then quipped that he wanted to make sure to introduce Tarantino the way he would want it — as “Quentin Super Fly Tarantino Presley.”
On a serious note, Jackson thanked the multihyphenate for casting him in Pulp Fiction, because now, 15-plus years later, he still gets asked to recite lines from it every day.
Many a joke had to do with Tarantino’s looks, voice and foot fetish, as well as his relationship with Thurman, who he has called his muse. The praises heaped on him often featured words such as “genius.”
In a much-applauded gesture, Thurman at the end of her speech took off her heels, put wine in them, handed one to Tarantino and toasted with him.
Other roasters included Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Richard Belzer, Rob Schneider, Whitney Cummings, Jeff Ross and director Edgar Wright.
Griffin recalled high and low points of her dating experience with Tarantino, while Keitel expressed parental feelings for the man of the hour, andRoss, to much laughter, called him “the most inglorious looking bastard” in show business.
Ross also teased Tarantino about using foreign and genre films for inspiration, quipping that his last name is an old Italian word meaning plagiarism. He added he feels like “I already roasted better versions of so…You’re like Martin Scoresoso.”
But Ross also had warm words at the end as is tradition after roast jokes. “Thank you for making all us movie geeks seem a little cooler,” he told Tarantino before ending with another joke. “You changed the face of cinema. I just wish cinema would return the favor.”
Silverman, who said she was celebrating her 40th birthday Wednesday, brought edgy material. Among other things, she said Tarantino turned down directing Speed — ‘the first time he ever turned down speed.”
Jackson also heard some punchlines about his many film roles, with Ross suggesting: “You really got to start saying the ‘N word’ more. And the ‘N word’ is ‘no’.”
Tarantino’s reply comments ended the event as he quipped about the lineup before him by saying the Friars seemed to be trying something new. “The no-comedian thing is kind of interesting,” he said.
He also highlighted that Jackson was at a disadvantage at the event, because “I wasn’t writing his dialogue for him.”
After some material that received a weaker reaction, including jokes about others at the event and recently deceased comedian Greg Giraldo, Tarantino said his farewell to much applause and another standing ovation from the crowd.
To kick off the event, Kristin Chenoweth had sung the national anthem and Friars “abbot” Jerry Lewis made a much-applauded appearance and lauded Tarantino’s work by predicting that the likes of Inglourious Basterds will be part of film history as his great grandchildren will still want to see it.
Friars dean Freddie Roman also extended a special welcome to such celebrity guests as Howard Stern, boxing legend Joe Frazier, Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Chazz Palminteri and Harry Belafonte. Non-speaking guests on the luncheon dais included Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Eli Wallach, Neve Campbell, Steve Buscemi, Rosario Dawson, Patricia Arquette, Cheech Marin, Dick Cavett and Joe Pantoliano.
The dais guests didn’t escape jokes either. Ratner, for example, quipped that the Weinsteins built businesses “without ever actually paying anyone” other than Oscar voters.
Schneider delivered one of most incendiary comments of the night. Among his jokes, he said he knew why John Travolta, who sent a congratulatory note for Tarantino, was absent from the event. “There was a “Fags in Denial Who Believe in Aliens” convention,” Schneider suggested.
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