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People Top 5
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- October 25, 1993
- Vol. 40
- No. 17
Burned at the Roast
Even Whoopi Can't Cushion Ted Danson from the Flak After His Off-Color Turn at the Friars Club
Despite the Friars' cherished tradition of gleefully tasteless, over-the-top humor, many in the audience were aghast. "Totally offensive," said actor Matthew Modine. New York City Mayor David Dinkins deemed Dan-son's performance "way, way over the line." Talk show host Montel Williams stalked out and later released a letter tendering his resignation from the Friars. "Some may find this brand of so-called humor funny," he wrote. "I do not."
Whoopi, for one, was definitely not offended—except possibly by Williams, whose walkout, she suggested, had more to do with self-promotion than racial pride. At a press conference the following day, she said that she had written some of Danson's material and provided his make-up artist. "We are a zebra couple," she said. "We get mail every day from people calling Ted a nigger lover. That's what we live with, and it's the context for the jokes and blackface." Model Beverly Johnson, who saw Danson's performance, agreed. "If you can't see the humor at a place where there's supposed to be over-the-line jokes," she said, "there's something wrong."
Comic Bobcat Goldthwait—himself no poster boy for propriety—also slammed Danson, but said Ted's worst offense was not being funny. "He got a couple of laughs," Goldthwait says. "But there was a lot of squirming." Yet even accounts of the audience reaction varied widely. "Everyone was in hysterics," says comic-turned-actor Kevin Pollak. "Especially Whoopi Goldberg."
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