Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Jeffrey Ross Roasts Pamela Anderson

Okay, I am officially in love with whoever came up with the concept of Youtube. This absolutely rocks. I did a review a few weeks ago of the Pamela Anderson roast DVD and youtube has the uncensored clip of Jeffrey Ross – the undisputed king of the roasts – at that roast. This you have to see. Warning: this you have to see if you have a dark and sick sense of humor and are not easily offended. It’s rude, it’s crude and it’s very, very funny.

Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s Nick DiPaolo’s set from the Pamela Anderson roast.


  1. #1 Dan
    June 17, 2006

    Now THAT is funny.

    “Is it true they give free donkey rides to the bottom?”

    I nearly fell out of my chair.

  2. #2 John Cercone
    June 17, 2006

    Sigh,too bad I’m deaf.

    I wonder long it will be before captioning comes to Youtube.

  3. #3 RPM
    June 17, 2006

    No one should be comfortable when they get roasted. That was perfect.

  4. #4 bill
    June 17, 2006

    I thought it was hilarious. At the same time, I felt a little guilty watching it. Having lots of sex won’t stretch out a vagina much: ever seen a penis the size of a baby? That idea is really just one method of social control for shaming women for having sex.

    So, Ed, do you have any tips on being able to enjoy these films without feeling like you’re shitting on half of humanity for laughing?

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006

    Yes – don’t take it literally. They’re jokes.

  6. #6 bill
    June 17, 2006

    See, that doesn’t work because it underestimates the power of jokes. I think comedy is actually one of the most powerful forms of discourse out there. It can pack a punch far stronger than ten times as much earnest prose. And our society has a history of using this powerful form of discourse to enforce social roles for women and minorities.

    So while I’d like to love Sarah Silverman, I feel I’m violating my own atheist conscience while doing so.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006


    Then by all means, don’t watch such comedians. No one wants you to violate your conscience. My conscience, on the other hand, has no problem with it.

  8. #8 bill
    June 17, 2006

    That’s what confuses me–I know you’re very smart and logical, and I’d like to think I am too. Finding how a smart and logical person can have no conscience qualms about this stand-up comedy is intriguing to me, because I know I don’t have a lock on what’s ethical.

    Do you agree that comedy can be powerful and that saying, “It’s just a joke,” underestimates the power of comedy? Or do you think that comedy is just empty sounds that make us laugh?

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006


    I think some comedy is just a joke, while other comedy is not. A knock knock joke, or a Jay Leno bit about his dad wearing black socks with sandals, is not powerful or meaningful – it’s just a joke. Some comedy is very powerful and causes us to rethink our assumptions about things. As Bill Hicks said, the best comedians are the ones who say “wait a minute” while the consensus builds. But that doesn’t mean that just because comedy is powerful, every inference you may draw from a joke is accurate or valid. Ask yourself this question: do you think they actually meant those jokes about the size of Pam’s vagina? Do you think Jeffrey Ross really thinks that they give donkey rides to the bottom of it? Of course not. They weren’t trying to shame her for having sex; for crying out loud, they were reveling in her open and very public sexuality – we wouldn’t know who Pamela Anderson is without her overt sexuality. I certainly don’t think being made fun of, especially with her consent, is part of some social conspiracy to keep women down.

  10. #10 bill
    June 17, 2006

    You raise some good points: we should consider the intent of a joke and not all jokes are meant to be biting social commentary. And in this light, I don’t have much of a problem with these roasts.

    But I’m more uncomfortable when we get into the Sarah Silverman and Dave Chappelle genre. We know Silverman and Chappelle are not racist or anti-Semetic, but I’ve unfortunately seen how some brain-dead racists enjoy this type of comedy — unironically. They enjoy it for its surface meaning. This type of comedy seems to have a negative net result. While I laughed at Dave Chappelles N—-r Family skit, it probably wasn’t a good idea.

    Any thoughts?

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006

    I’ve actually never watched the Chappelle show, so I can’t comment on that. But Sarah Silverman is, in my view, one of the 4 0r 5 best comics working today. I like comedy that goes where it’s not supposed to go. I like comedy that goes after our most sacred cows, even ones that I may believe in myself. Give me Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope or George Carlin (at his best) over “what part of the chicken is the McNugget” any day. And frankly, my only requirement with comedy is that it be funny. There isn’t any subject I can think of that can’t be made funny. There is nothing in the world more horrifying than the sexual abuse of a child, but I know a couple of jokes on the subject that are absolutely hilarious. And it doesn’t diminish the horror of pedophilia a bit.

  12. #12 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006

    Let me add one thing: I really don’t expect others to agree with me no that. If they do, great. If they don’t, that’s fine too. The thing about a sense of humor is that it’s just that, it’s a sense. It’s not a science. In a world where there are people who actually find Dave Coulier and Pauly Shore funny, I certainly can’t expect people to find everything funny that I do. So I’m not being snarky when I say “if you don’t like that kind of comedy, don’t watch it”. There’s a vast range of comedy out there and you certainly don’t have to like what I do.

  13. #13 bill
    June 17, 2006

    The thing is that I DO like the stuff you do — immensely! I cannot stand Jeff Foxworthy-style crap. That’s why I’m trying to navigate through this area while still being ethical. (Obviously, I’m still pretty naive on these issues.)

    From an article in Slate, “[Silverman] has said that a comedian’s ‘only job is funny thoughts’.” This compares well with what you said: “And frankly, my only requirement with comedy is that it be funny.” What do you think about the argument that some taboos are needed, and comedy skewering them, even ironically, starts making the taboos more acceptable? For example, Dave Chappelle’s use of meta-racist jokes made real racist jokes more acceptable?

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006

    bill wrote:

    What do you think about the argument that some taboos are needed, and comedy skewering them, even ironically, starts making the taboos more acceptable? For example, Dave Chappelle’s use of meta-racist jokes made real racist jokes more acceptable?

    I don’t think Chappelle is responsible for the actions of those immune to irony. His job is to be funny.

  15. #15 goddogit
    June 17, 2006

    The discussion above seems to neglect one point (the only where I myself might have something like sympathy with bill’s argument), that one basic strand of comedy in any age is the cheap (and I consider that an OBJECTIVE description, in this case) appeal to the basest, most smug of the ruling classes prejudices, usually through stereotyping.
    A recent example of this, that finally pissed me off the third time it came around, was that “Rappa’s In-Tell-it-Gent’s Test” (or something similar). Sooo funny to a certain type of closet-racist Caucasian, when in company with others of its kind.
    However, looking back historically, I’ve noticed that this sort of comedy WHEN IT FIRST APPEARS acts like a sort of icebreaker by bringing the apparent butt of the joke to the notice of the public in an entirely safe, powerless form. Later comedians then, as a natural comic process, increasingly humanize and, eventually, reverse the original direction of the humor.
    Also, even the most outdated, driven-by-hatred, hurtful humor can be funny. It’s how the power-relationship is presented in a particular performance that matters.

    (An excuse for the half-babbling [“HALF???”] tone of the above – I’m tard this a.m.)

  16. #16 Matthew
    June 17, 2006

    Roasting is probably one of the more difficult types of comedy because you really just have to play on stereotypes where every joke has been said thousands of times. As funny as Jeffrey Ross can be, I only laughed at about half of those jokes. The other half I saw coming from a mile away.

    I love Sara Silverman and wish I could have seen her bit. She was hilarious in Mr. Show. It’s a shame she doesn’t do that much t.v. any more.

  17. #17 Matthew
    June 17, 2006

    By the way, based on Ross’ bit, i think we have to do a Courtney Love roast. He spent half his time on her. I think she’s been doing drugs for so long that it now becomes impossible to know if it’s just her personality or if she’s high all the time.

  18. #18 Heathen Dan
    June 17, 2006

    I love the Comedy Central roasts. My fave part of Pam’s roast is Bea Arthur reading Pam’s novel.

  19. #19 Ed Brayton
    June 17, 2006

    Matthew wrote:

    I love Sara Silverman and wish I could have seen her bit.

    Ask and you shall receive:


  20. #20 Gretchen
    June 19, 2006

    Warning: this you have to see if you have a dark and sick sense of humor and are not easily offended.


    I really hate it when people say things like this, because it implies that A) if you don’t like this kind of comedy, it’s because you’re easily offended, B) being “dark and sick” is enough to make it funny, and C) there’s something wrong with comedy that is not “dark and sick.” None of the above are true.

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