Best One-Liners from the Museum of the Moving Image’s Salute to Alec Baldwin in New York on Monday night

By Sam Thielman


There is no such thing as a salute to a comedian that is not also a roast, but this one was surprising for being both funny and fairly gentle. Everyone from Ben Stiller to Tina Fey weighed in on Baldwin’s virtues on Monday night at Cipriani 42nd St. – here are some of the highlights.

Michael Keaton on altruism – “$4.5 million to stand up here for three minutes and say something nice? How do you say ‘no’ to that?”

– Keaton on Baldwin’s contribution to entertainment – “I looked through the TV shows and the films and there’s really not much there, but my God. The hair.” 

– Keaton on secret identities – “Alec Baldwin, whose real name is Chaim Levine [laughs]… Charlie really hits it so hard, too. ‘Chuck Lorre, whose name is CHAIM LEVINE.’ I’m not sure what he wants me to do with that information. I have an idea, but I’m not sure.”

Ben Stiller on goodwill – “I have to say I was shocked to learn that you were receiving an award from the American Film Institute. But I was relieved to hear that my agent had got it wrong, and it was an award I had already won.”

– Stiller on the Museum of the Moving Image – “I highly recommend that you check out their newest exhibit – Al Pacino’s beanie.”

– Stiller on film studies – “Alec and I were in the unheralded 2004 classic “Along Came Polly,” which is given in film schools the same careful scrutiny a medical examiner gives a corpse. In all honesty, Alec, peeing next to you was the highlight of my career. But that’s my problem.”

Edie Falco on the role of a lifetime – “I have been asked to talk about Alec’s role in a film set against the backdrop of organized crime. Your guess is as good as mine.”

Lorne Michaels on speechifying – “There’s an old story about a reporter who asked Alfred Hitchcock what he thought his greatest contribution to film and television was, but it’s not a very good story and I’m gonna skip right over it.”

– Michaels on professionalism – “Alec has a reputation for being demanding and difficult to work with, but I’ve never seen evidence of it. I should say I don’t get down to the set very often.”

Tina Fey on “30 Rock” and corporate budgets – “Here we are, five years and almost a hundred dollars later.”

– Fey on comic versatility – “Alec has done everything from imitate every member of Tracy Jordan’s family to act a heartfelt goodbye scene with a peacock to sodomize a Dick Cheney lookalike with a grace and precision that is upsetting.”

– Fey on Jack Donaghy and politics – “Not since Archie Bunker has there been a television character that my parents agree with so often.”

– Fey on parallel universes – “I shudder to think what kind of low-rent ‘Two and a Half Men’ show we would have without you.”

The democratic response: 

Baldwin on “Beetlejuice” – “I think it’s no mystery that we were doing a lot of blow back then. We were screwed out of our mind on cocaine, and that’s where those performances come from.”

Baldwin on “SNL” – “I got to host ‘Saturday Night Live’ so many times that Lorne’s kids call me and ask me for tickets.”

Baldwin on “30 Rock” – “Who knew that playing a self-seeking, machiavellian Republican corporate fop would be the high point of my life?”