In the whole course of my human existence, it never once occurred to me that the Friars Club was a real place. I always imagined it as a sort of fairytale land, like Xanadu, or Waterworld, only more Jewish and starring Don Rickles instead of Crash Davis. (Smart people—I’m counting on you here!) Or else it would be like the Safe House in Milwaukee, with passwords and secret handshakes and maybe some hidden trapdoors that would whisk away the unfunny to the Dells at the turn of a screw. Because where do the unfunny deserve to get screwed more than the Vegas-of-Dairyland with a helping of Storybook Gardens and Tommy Bartlett on the side? It’s like heaven minus all your pleasure and due rewards.
So when my friend Spencer—writer of screenplays and jingles, pitcher of pilots, fellow survivor of Ken Levine’s Sitcom Room—invited me to join him there for dinner, who could refuse? Not I, friends. It was nothing like I had imagined, but it was just as old-school clubby as you might imagine. Which isn’t a bad thing, just a truth—operating in a whole different timezone, dark and cozy and safe from the world and torrential downpours. While I waited in the dim and surprisingly serious Billy Crystal Room, I quizzed the bartender on “How does one become a member of the Friars Club?” (”You wanna be a member? You can be a member.”) and “What is the most popular drink at the Friars Club?” (”Diet Coke and lots of hard liquor.”) And thus do investigative reporters quake in their journo boots at my ninja interview stylings.
Anyway, Spencer arrived from LaGuardia and they gave him a jacket and he told me charming stories and reminded me that script rejection is the #1 rule of script writing—which is a thing I keep forgetting no matter how many times it’s repeated—and we drank drinks and ate fish in the mostly empty dining room and toured the lovely paneled five-story townhouse that is the Friars Club, and then I was ferreted away in a Jaguar by a mostly mute driver who dropped me at my door.
To Spencer: thanks again.
To the Friars: I didn’t actually give away any secrets here; please don’t assassinate me.