On Friday afternoon, Jeff Zucker, president and C.E.O. of NBC Universal, stood on stage in the ballroom on the third floor of the New York Hilton Hotel on 53rd Street and gestured at the afternoon’s guest of honor Matt Lauer, who was seated nearby.
“I’m sure this isn’t the first Hilton that Matt has been inside,” said Mr. Zucker.
Later, he asked the longtime host of The Today Show what it was like waking up every morning knowing “that Lester Holt is waiting for you to die.”
The crowd chuckled. They had paid $400-a-seat to eat chicken à la something and watch a conga line of NBC employees and celebrities (Tom Cruise! Mario Lopez! Donald Trump! Clay Aiken!) make fun of Mr. Lauer, as part of the Friar Club’s charity roast of the Today anchor.
Part of the afternoon’s pleasure was watching traditionally button-down broadcasters using off-color language.
Meredith Vieira called Mr. Lauer “a motherfucker.” Luke Russert made a joke involving J-Lo’s ass. Brian Williams said the word “vagina” at least twice.
Mostly, the entertainers stuck to familiar comedic territory: Mr. Lauer’s bald head; “Roastmaster” Al Roker’s broad girth; and 10,000 variations of “Where in the World is Matt Lauer” jokes.
(The long running series, Mr. Zucker explained, actually got started years ago “when I got a call from his wife at 3 A.M.”).
Along the way, there were plenty of dirty jokes about on-air colonoscopies and the various things found up Mr. Lauer’s ass (Mr. Zucker’s wedding ring, to name one example). But in a vanilla moment comedian Jeffrey Ross had the most on-point zinger of the night.
He noted that Mr. Lauer is so bland that his nickname in high school was… “Matthew Lauer.”
It rang true.