Zinging Richard Belzer

updated 06/11/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/12/2001 01:15PM

Veteran comedian and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" star Richard Belzer, 56, braved barbs about his looks, his TV character (John Munch) and his stand-up material from members of the New York Friars Club at a Saturday night roast in his honor, reports PEOPLE. "I've hated few people," joked actor Danny Aiello, 67. "He's probably one of the most hateful people I ever met." Not that all the recollections were pointed. "I remember Richard from the days at the Improv," said Jerry Stiller, 74. "I thought, 'My God, he doesn't look like a comedian.' Later, when I went home, I got out of my car and there was Richard sleeping in his car. I loved his courage, his style. There's no one like him." The event was part of the Toyota Comedy Festival and benefited the Creative Coalition, a non-profit political advocacy organization. Belzer's "Law & Order" co-star Mariska Hargitay, as well as Alan King and Christopher Walken, was among those who paid tribute. "Late Show" conductor Paul Shaffer hosted, and Billy Crystal, Jay Leno and Robin Williams sent their regards via video clips. At the end of his evening, Belzer said, "All I can really say is, I wish I had bigger stars."

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