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Don Rickles engages in what might be called Comedy S and M. He insults audience members (whether famous or unknown, each a hockey puck in his eyes) and they laugh and beg for more.
It’s a manic, lacerating style Rickles has commanded for a half-century-plus.
Now he’s being feted by Spike TV with a 90-minute special, One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute. A black-tie affair taped earlier this month at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, it airs today at 9 p.m., packed with love and a healthy dose of bile.
“We wanted to honor your memory, Don, so here we are,” says Martin Scorsese, firing a zinger at the spirited but frail-looking Rickles — “though if I’d been directing this, I don’t think I would have gone for the open casket.”
Other stars on hand include Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert De Niro, Regis Philbin, Tracy Morgan, Brian Williams, and Jon Stewart.