Many comedians gathered at the ArcLight Theater in Hollywood, where Adam Sandler was celebrating the premiere of his latest Netflix original, Sandy Wexler. The launch of the film, which will be available to stream on April 14, brought out all sorts of funnyman blasts from the past, including Rob Schneider, Chris Tucker, and Arsenio Hall. While attendees were busy singing the praises of Sandler’s latest creation, they also jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to their recently fallen colleague.
“Don Rickles was cool because Don Rickles had edge before I knew what it was,” Hall told Yahoo Celebrity. “My mother said when she was young and I was growing up in Cleveland, if Don Rickles was on TV, she would make an appointment; she would write it down. And I think that’s kind of cool, because Don Rickles was usually teasing the black trumpet player on the Tonight Show. But you could look through his eyes into his heart and know that he didn’t mean no harm. But he was the first person to call somebody a hockey puck, and I laughed. Because I realized, ‘Oh, this guy has edge. This guy is cool.’ And I also knew a hockey puck was black!”
So how did the Merchant of Venom get away with poking fun at everyone and being politically incorrect? “He set the bar high for guys who want to have edge but don’t want to be assholes,” noted Hall. “Nobody really ever called him an asshole. He might have just come off talking about you. He would throw five jokes at Sinatra; Sinatra would still want to kiss him. Rest in peace, Don.”
Tucker also lamented the loss of the iconic comedian. “He’s influenced every comedian’s career by just pushing the boundaries — making you think, making you laugh. He’s a genius,” he praised. The Rush Hour star gave us a taste of what a run-in with the late comedian was like. “He’s bagged on me a few times. Just bumping into [him], he said, ‘Look at that black guy. Look at the black guy.’ And I thought he was racist at first, and then I was like, ‘Oh, that’s Don Rickles.’ He ain’t racist. He’s just a legend, he’s an icon.’”
Tucker noted that he has always admired the ability Rickles had to insult everyone while simultaneously winning them over. “You could feel his energy, and it wasn’t negative. He was just a funny guy, and you could tell that he loved you even if he didn’t know you and he was going to mess with you and then let you figure out that he’s a good guy,” he said. According to Tucker, when they made Rickles, they broke the mold. “There will never be another one. He’s just a jewel. I’m so shocked and a little bit upset that he’s not going to be with us anymore.”
In true comedic fashion, Schneider joked that it’s hard for him to feel sorry for a man who lived into his 90s and “had it all. I don’t know how you could be sad. He did everything. Just the fact that he was able to continue his career for many, many decades and still have fun!” he exclaimed.
Though he never had a chance to collaborate with the fallen star — “I wish I would have had the chance to work with him,” he told Yahoo Celebrity — the Real Rob creator reminded us that there was no one the comedy world cherished more. “There is not one bad story you hear about Don Rickles. Not one comedian is like, ‘You know who I don’t like? Don Rickles.’ That’s, to me, his real thing. You know, Chris Rock said he loved the guy. I’ve got a picture on my phone of him and Don Rickles in bed together. It’s fantastic,” he said with a grin.
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