Rickles gets award from an old pal | AspenTimes.com

Rickles gets award from an old pal

Madeleine Osberger
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Don Rickles knew he was scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, but he didn’t know the presenter would be his longtime friend and fellow comedian Bob Newhart.

“Oh my God! You know, there’s surprises in this world,” the 80-year-old Rickles said after Newhart gave him the Pinnacle Award Thursday after the screening of a film-in-progress about Rickles’ 50 years in the comedy business.

“This man and his wife (Ginny) and my wife Barbara, we traveled the world together and I love him,” Rickles said.

Rickles, nicknamed “Mr. Warmth” for his brand of insult comedy, had been surprised by his colleagues before.

Johnny Carson once burst onto the set of Rickles’ television series “CPO Sharkey” to admonish him for breaking Carson’s favorite cigarette box. For once, the quick-thinking Rickles was speechless.

Highlights of Rickles’ 50 years of work in club shows, television talk fests and celebrity roasts are captured in “The Rickles Project,” a forthcoming film that director John Landis said is about half-completed.

The film was conceived by Rickles’ son, Larry.

Don Rickles’ shows are still much in demand in Las Vegas, and his March 22 performance there will be recorded for “The Rickles Project.”

He offered one reason for his staying power: attitude.

“It’s not so much the jokes or what you say. I can’t tell a joke,” he said. “If you asked me to come to a party and stand up here and say, ‘Two Jews got off a bus’ and be funny, I really couldn’t. “But I can do attitude. I always say to young people, ‘try to do an attitude.'”

While never afraid to make fun of audiences or ethnicity, including his own Judaism, Rickles sets himself apart from many current comedians by avoiding political humor and blue language.

“(Swearing) was never my game,” he said.

But insults are, and for audience members “lucky enough” to be Rickles’ target, many wear it like a badge of honor.

During an awards ceremony in Las Vegas last year, Landis recalled, Whoopi Goldberg spoke of Rickles’ “ability to insult people without malice. The reality is, it’s a unique skill,” Landis recalled.

“The Rickles Project” includes clips of many of his friends, actors and comedians now long gone, such as Dean Martin, Milton Berle, Carson and Frank Sinatra.

Rickles’ personal recollections will be captured in an autobiography that’s expected to be published this spring, he said.

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