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Friars Club's 'Private Joke File'

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," May 9, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Many of us are familiar with those raunchy Friars Club roasts. From Drew Carey to Hugh Hefner, countless big names have been subjected to the teasing and taunting and ridicule of the Friars Club. Now a new book compiles more than 2,000 jokes, riddles and stories from the exclusive Friars Club. It's called "The Friars Club Private Joke File."

I'm joined now by the author of the book, who's also the director of the New York Friars Club, Barry Dougherty, and Friars Club Dean Freddie Roman.

So, Freddie, just so people have a sense of what gets said at the club: "Rob Reiner, look at you. You were so cute in 'All in the Family.' What happened? Did you swallow Carroll O'Connor? You're like Orson Welles without all the genius baggage. Look at you. David Crosby thinks you let yourself go." That was Triumph the Insult Dog. What is The Friars Club?

FREDDIE ROMAN, FRIARS CLUB DEAN: The Friars Club started in 1904 with a group of press agents and composers, lyricists, and over the years evolved into a home for comedians. Socially, the club does a tremendous amount of charity work. We raise a lot of money for great causes, but it's a home for entertainers, singers, dancers and actors, primarily comedians.

The Friars Club roast became our media attention-getter. We've done it every year before Comedy Central as just a private event. Then five years we were on television with it and it became a national craze.

GIBSON: Barry, these jokes, I mean, I had to search the book to find one I could use right now.

BARRY DOUGHERTY, NY FRIARS CLUB DIRECTOR: I won't be sharing any of them.

GIBSON: I mean, it really is a very thick book crammed with very funny stuff that I cannot say on television. What made you decide to compile these jokes and stories?

DOUGHERTY: It was time. I mean, the friars are known for these jokes. They've been doing it for 100 years, and everyone's always wondered what goes on behind closed doors, what goes on at the roasts. Even the ones that were on television, you know, they still get bleeped and they're sanitized a bit. So it was just time, with the curiosity, we got it out there, and we figured, oh, let's do it.

GIBSON: Freddie, it's very, very funny stuff for everybody but the person the joke is being told about.

ROMAN: And yet over the 50-some odd years we've been doing roasts, we never have a dearth of people that want to be roasted. For example, this June 9, it's Jerry Lewis. Jerry has been roasted before and, yes, they know they're going to be picked on, but it's a great, great tribute to anyone in our industry to be chosen as the roastee of the Friars Club.

GIBSON: Barry, what is it that is so appealing about jokes that really — as we said in the lead — taunt, ridicule, poke fun at?

DOUGHERTY: Oh, come on. It's the guy who slips on the banana peel. That's been going on for years. You love to titter behind them and say, "Oh that was hilarious that happened to him."

ROMAN: So long as it doesn't happen to you.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, exactly.

GIBSON: Who are some of these friars that are in this book, Freddie?

ROMAN: Oh a lot of terrific — Susie Essman, the young lady from "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Richard Belzer, the star of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," and so many of the great comedians, Pat Cooper.

DOUGHERTY: Even Milton Berle...

(CROSSTALK)

ROMAN: Berle and Buddy Hackett, and all of the greats that have been members of the club, and we've had 98 percent of all of the great comedians from Bob Hope and George Burns. George Burns, 100 years old was one of our great, great comedians.

GIBSON: Barry, did anybody say, please don't print that joke about me?

DOUGHERTY: No, because, you know, these guys, they have a great sense of humor.

ROMAN: As do most people that hear the jokes.

GIBSON: All right. Let me thank Barry Dougherty and Freddie Roman. The Friars Club Book, "Private Joke File." Very funny. Thank you guys.

ROMAN: And available at Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon.com.

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