Robert De Niro may have been the target of the Donald Trump-supporting pipe bomb mailer, but that isn’t stopping the Oscar winner from trashing the president.
Just two days after playing Robert Mueller again on “Saturday Night Live,” De Niro zinged the commander-in-chief with more verbal zingers.
In presenting Billy Crystal with the Friars Club’s entertainment icon award on Monday night in New York City, De Niro first shouted, “F— Crystal!” as a wink to his condemnation of Trump at the Tony Awards earlier this year. “I just get so upset with that jerkoff in the White House,” he said, drawing boos from the crowd. “Boo is right! Down with this motherf—er!”
Though the “Raging Bull” star jokingly suggested Crystal should be president instead (“We’ve got a dangerous buffoon-in-chief. What we need is a heroic comedian-in-chief”), he concluded that Crystal’s inability to lie and his lack of scandals would be disqualifying. “As much as we could use you in the never-been-more-white White House, I think it’s best to keep you right where you are — making us laugh and entertaining us like no one else,” he said.
Crystal, for his part, seemed open to using those comic skills in a political context. He himself was the subject of one of the Friars Club’s legendary (and infamously brutal) roasts in 1992. Asked who he would target if he could return the favor, his answer was simple. “Gee,” he said, “I think he’s president.” (“SNL” Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin was set to be a presenter last night, but his name no longer appeared on the event’s media tip sheet after he was arrested last week after an alleged scuffle over a parking spot.)
While politics proved to be a good punching bag last night, the lavish gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom was dominated by stories from Crystal and his class of comics’ early days as well as a celebration of the next generation.
Crystal’s longtime collaborator, Alan Zweibel, who was named 2018’s friar of the year, described selling jokes for $7 at the Friars Club bar when he was just out of college — and Crystal himself had plenty to say about how they got their start together. “We’d try to get on [at Catch a Rising Star] at one o’clock in the morning sometimes, for six or seven people who were making out — you’d feel like you were at a drive-in movie,” Crystal said, laughing. “And you’d try to get better.”
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