Back in 1986 Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams teamed up to emcee the very first Comic Relief special—a star-studded HBO telethon for the homeless, dreamed up by comedy writer Bob Zmuda, that became a tradition until 1998. On Nov. 18 the benefit returns for a special 20th-birthday celebration aiding survivors of Hurricane Katrina. And the show’s three hosts? PEOPLE’s Ryan Pienciak discovered they may be a bit older and grayer, but they’re still not afraid to keep the censors busy….
So what’s it like to reunite?
CRYSTAL: We just love being with each other—and we’re doing it in Vegas, so it’ll be cool.
WILLIAMS (singing): Las Vegas, a crazy town! There’s a lot of money there—just on the tables alone.
CRYSTAL: It’s a great way to get the word out that there’s still huge problems [on the Gulf Coast] so people don’t forget….
WILLIAMS: Like people in the White House!
GOLDBERG: Save it [for the show]!
Have things changed since the last Comic Relief telethon?
GOLDBERG: My waistline has changed—I know that.
WILLIAMS (in an old man voice): There were no cell phones when we started. There were just phones in the old days.
CRYSTAL: Are you, like, a bear? An animated bear? What is this voice?
What was the most outrageous thing that ever happened on the show?
WILLIAMS: There was the time I did the talking vagina. It was the first Vagina Monologue.
CRYSTAL: And then—then it got dirty.
This year the show will also be broadcast on TBS. Are you going to clean up your material for basic cable?
WILLIAMS: BLEEP them! We will not tone it down! That’s BLEEP!
GOLDBERG: TBS will just have to be quick [with the bleeping].
WILLIAMS: They’ll have a 10-second delay and witness-protection things for certain areas of the body.
Does anything stick out as a memorable moment from any of the shows?
CRYSTAL: Jerry Lewis.
WILLIAMS: That was insane. He shows up at rehearsal, and there’s a lot of comics who did impressions of him, some not too kind, and all of a sudden it was like, “Ahhhh! Run! Run! He’s here!”
Did you ever think you’d be doing this schtick for 20 years?
GOLDBERG: We hoped not, because we thought we might be able to actually get the problem of homelessness under control. New Orleans is a place where maybe we can actually do something …
WILLIAMS: … and also bring attention to it again. It’s still in really bad shape.
CRYSTAL: The problems are still out there, and what’s cool is we’re still there. This is the “We Still Have Our Own Hips” tour!
WILLIAMS: We’re still moving! Thank you!
CRYSTAL: What’s good about [Comic Relief] is you can do stand-up, go wild, go crazy, but then have a serious kind of moment. It gives you a chance to make people think and have fun.