If You Can't Say Something Nice...

Glenn McDonald
Photo from International & Australian Photography, 20th Century Photography Collectors' List 119 2006 --

Our resident wit offers up the excerpts and highlights from the best celebrity roasts in 2006.

From the Friar's Club Roast of Donald Rumsfeld

Hoover Theater, Washington, D.C.

President George W. Bush: "… heckuva job, Rummy, heckuva job. I should've gone with my first choice for Secretary of Defense -- a retarded Doberman! (RAUCOUS LAUGHTER FROM CROWD) Hahaha! Haha! Ha! When Don first came to me about Congressional oversight, I said -- Donny! Bubalah! Forget about it! If I was worried about Congress, I'd have dissolved the whole branch after breakfast! (MORE RAUCOUS LAUGHTER) … I kid, though, I kid. Look, Rummy, I know how you feel. I once made a real big mess myself -- woke up in south Houston with a Mexican hooker and a coke hangover like you wouldn't believe. Luckily, I had Dad's pals to bail me out. Hey, wait a second! We got 'em this time, too! Hawhawhaw! Aha! Ah!

From the National Book Club Roast of Dan Brown, Author of The Da Vinci Code

J.P. Salisbury's, New York, New York

Phillip Roth: "…as we honor our esteemed colleague Dan Brown. You know, there are some in the literary community who begrudge Dan his great success. Who feel that his popular literature is somehow beneath the standards of "serious" literature. To these, I say: Goddamn right! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) To paraphrase Capote, Dan Brown doesn't write, he doesn't even type -- he just dictates two-bit genre vomit from his pile of lies and filthy ducats! (TOSSES BACK THREE MARTINIS IN A ROW). Hey, Dan -- I got a code for you, brother: 'Yuck Fou!' (THROWS LATIN DICTIONARY AT HONOREE TABLE)

From the Comedy Central Roast of Michael Richards

Laughs, Inc., Los Angeles, California

Sarah Silverman: "Thanks a lot, Michael! Nice work, you fucking dilettante! (DRAWS IMAGINARY LINE ON STAGE) See this? This is the line you don't cross. (HOLDS UP MAP OF CALIFORNIA) See this? This is a point 127 miles off the coast of Southern California, where you ended up, halfwit. (HOLDS UP NOTEBOOK) And see this? This is my act, an hour and forty-five minutes of delicately calibrated material subverting racial prejudice, which I'd honed and distilled from hours on the circuit. Now I guess I can just wipe my ass with it! (TO SELF:) 'Wipe my ass!' Hey, that's funny … there's a bit in here…"

From the Australian Children's Television Roast of Greg "The Yellow Wiggle" Page

Matilda's Steakhouse, Sydney, Australia

Elmo: "I remember when I first met Greg. I said, 'Look, kid, your act stinks, OK? Four metrosexual caneaters in primary colors? Forget it. You'll never make dollar one.' Shows what I know. Three years later, these punks are stomping me in the ratings. And I don't even wanna talk about the DVD. I tell ya, never underestimate stupidity of the American three-year-old. Barney the dinosaur? That freak looks like a distended colon… (MUTTERS ANGRILY…)

A Few Highlights. . .

Condoleeza Rice: "Hey waiter, bring a hot towel over to Mr. Rumsfeld here, he's got some marinara on his tie. Oops, wait, my mistake -- it's the blood of tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians! (LAUGHTER) Don't forget the US troops! (MORE LAUGHTER)

Anthony "The Blue Wiggle" Field: "We're sorry to see you go, mate, we really are. But then again, fruit salad splits better three ways than four!" (LAUGHTER) Not to mention $85 million annually! (MORE LAUGHTER; ANDY DICK JUMPS ONSTAGE AND LICKS THE MICROPHONE)

Pope Benedict XVI: "… and Dan says, 'Yeah, Joe, but you and I know the real deal about the Church…" And then -- swear to God, swear to God -- we both say it at the same time: 'THE WHOLE THING IS BULLSHIT!' Ahahahaha! Ahaha! (WIPING HIS EYES) Oh, man. Oh, man … I never laughed so hard…"

Ted Danson (IN BLACKFACE): "What? Too soon?"

Jeff "The Purple Wiggle" Fatt: "…and that's after taxes, bee-yatch! Seriously, Greg, you ever get second thoughts about your 'voluntary retirement,' just remember: New Year's Eve 2002; you, Kylie Minogue, Dorothy the Octopus, and two quarts of vegetable oil. We've got duplicate sets of 8x10 glossies…."

Phillip Roth: "No, I won't get off the stage! I'm drunk, and I'm furious, and I'm Phillip Godammned Roth! Do you realize that at one point Da Vinci was selling 100,000 copies per day? PER DAY? (ANDY DICK JUMPS ONSTAGE, ROTH STABS HIM IN THE FACE WITH A BROKEN VODKA BOTTLE)

Gilbert Gottfried: "So this guy walks into a talent agency with his wife and two kids, says, 'Boy, have I got an act for you! It's a family act, see? Then the wife bends over and the daughter…"

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani: "You contemptible coward! You malevolent child! Your arrogance and ignorance have cost my country --" (MICROPHONE CUT OFF)

President George W. Bush: "Well, that's all the time we have tonight, folks. Thanks everyone, you've been great, really great! And thanks to our very special guest, Don Rumsfeld. Don, you've been a helluva sport tonight, I mean it. We love ya, Rummy! Now get out there and make $30,000 an hour on the lecture circuit, you rascal! OK, good night everyone! Drive reckless! Take chances!"

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

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​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

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"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

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Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

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There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

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