Warning: This post contains strong language and jokes that will likely be offensive to some people. If that will bother you, don’t read it. If you do read it, don’t complain about it.
One of the cool things about having a relatively popular blog is that I’m now occasionally being sent books and DVDs to review. This is doubly cool when it’s something that I really enjoy, and I really love roasts. No, not the culinary variety, the “let’s get together and insult someone for an hour” type. It’s one of my favorite forms of comedy and always has been. And one of the best things that has happened in the world of comedy over the last decade or so is the number of younger comics who have gotten involved with the Friar’s Club.
The Friar’s Club, for those who don’t know, is a nearly century-old entertainer’s group based in New York. In the early days, the leaders of the club included men like George M. Cohan, Will Rogers and Irving Berlin. From the very beginning, they were known for their dinners honoring famous entertainers with backhanded compliments. The Friar’s Club was the home of all the great comedians from the Vaudeville age to the 60s. And today it has made a real comeback with the infusion of new blood, particularly among the many great New York comics working today. And the celebrity roast has made a comeback along with it.
Comedy Central has aired many celebrity roasts over the last few years. Many brave souls have suffered the slings and arrows including Hugh Hefner, Jerry Stiller, Chevy Chase and Drew Carey. But the latest to be victimized is none other than Pamela Anderson, and that roast has now been released on DVD. The producers were kind enough to send me a copy to review. I had seen it on Comedy Central, but it was heavily censored. It’s much funnier uncensored, as this DVD obviously is. I’ll try to give you a sense of this roast below the fold, but be warned: this is really strong stuff and not for the easily offended.
The new batch of roasts has introduced a whole new group of great comics to the world – Nick DiPaolo, Greg Geraldo, Sarah Silverman and many others. But the undisputed king of the insult comics today is Jeffrey Ross. Roasts are a perfect setup for his brutal sense of humor, especially one like this: the only reason Pamela Anderson decided to do the roast was because Comedy Central gave a big donation to PETA, her favorite charity. And you knew the comics were going to go right after that tender spot.
Ross walked out on stage in a fur coat, prompting Courtney Love (who is apparently friends with Anderson and was there just to make it an even more target-rich environment) to throw water at him. He released the tension by announcing, “Oh relax, it’s not real fur – we shaved Bea Arthur’s back.” For some reason, Ross has made Bea Arthur his personal punching bag at these roasts. At one of the early ones, upon noticing that Dr. Ruth was on the dais, he proclaimed, “I wouldn’t fuck her with Bea Arthur’s dick.” Riffing on that same theme during the Pamela Anderson roast he said, “I wouldn’t fuck Bea Arthur’s dick with Andy Dick’s pussy.” Crude? Yes. But very, very funny. He also wondered out loud how it was possible that Courtney Love could look worse than Kurt Cobain. And when he spotted Anna Nicole Smith in the audience he remarked, “Hey, we should roast her next year. We could do all the same jokes – plus fat jokes.”
If any of the new comics comes close to Ross in this area it’s Nick DiPaolo, a comedian whose political incorrectness can be a bit jarring at times (but I think it’s hysterical). His brings a quintessential New York and Italian attitude to the proceedings. Lisa Lampinelli is his female counterpart, an outrageously filthy comic who doesn’t care who she offends. When she notes that because Anderson had dated Tommy Lee, the lead singer of Poison and Scott Baio, her life story should be a VH1 special called “I fucked the 80s”, you can’t help but laugh.
This is probably the funniest of all the roasts that have been done in the last few years, funnier even than the Hugh Hefner roast – although if they ever put out an uncensored version of that roast on DVD that includes Gilbert Gottfried’s amazing performance of the Aristocrats joke, that might well top this one (and yes, that’s a hint to the producers of this DVD that if they have that one, I want it. Like now). For those, like me, who like their comedy like a Somalian warlord (dark and vicious), this is a must have DVD for your collection.