When Insult Comic Don Rickles Mocked Ronald Reagan at His Own Inaugural Ball

The star of TV's Webster introduced him, and the comedian joked about giving George H.W. Bush a cookie.

While watching an episode of Jerry Seinfeld's web show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, I perked up when I heard Don Rickles, the legendary insult comedian, reminisce about the time he did standup at Ronald Reagan's Second Inaugural Ball. As he told it, Frank Sinatra was asked to perform, and would only agree on the condition that Rickles, his longtime friend, could perform too.

Wait a minute, I thought. Don Rickles performed at Ronald Reagan's inaugural ball?

Yes, he did!

He kicks things off with a racially tinged joke about the eponymous star of the TV show Webster and the NBA, moves into his signature improvised insults, and gets off a great one-liner about Billy Graham. Here's the footage:


The culture sure has changed.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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