August 12, 2003


BIG FUCKING Q: While it seems that each "celebrity roast" broadcast on Comedy Central is less funny than the previous year's, this year's version (of Denis Leary) managed to hold my interest to the point where I tuned in and turned on, but didn't drop out- though by the end, I was ready to. (Sports Guy neglected to do a recap, so I guess I'll pick up the slack).
This year Comedy Central severed their relationship with the Friar's Club, following last year's Chevy Chase fiasco, and hired Leary's production company to produce the roast- of Leary (huh?). The production values were improved from previous years, but the divorce from the Friars deprived Jeffrey Ross of his prime annual gig- though a rather grotesque bit involving Rene Russo and Gina Gershon echoed Ross' infamous Bea Arthur/Sandra Bernhard joke.
The event also left out the primary roaster of 2001's Rob Reiner event, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog- though ironically, a highlight of the show was a taped "monologue" by Leary's foul-mouthed dog (voiced by Gilbert Gottfried). Indeed, most of the memorable moments were taped comments from the likes of Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Joe Mantegna, Russo, and (best of all) Christopher Walken.
As for the comics who actually showed up, they left quite a bit to be desired. Most of the roasters decided they'd rather make fun of flamingly gay actor/comic Mario Cantone than Leary, a routine that got old real fast; half the comics there were denizens of Comedy Central late-night like Adam Ferrera and Dane Cook, and most of the big stars in the room (Kiefer Sutherland, Elizabeth Hurley, and several Sopranos cast members) didn't even participate. And Jeff Garlin, so hilarious as Larry David's sidekick on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," was given next to no opportunities to be funny. When the best comics on the dais are Ed Lover and Dr. Dre, you've got a problem.
It was good that this roast left behind geriatric, decades-past-their-prime comics like Alan King, Dick Gregory, and (what the hell) Al Franken. But the Leary roast had the distinct feel of amateur hour. Leary himself was hilarious by the time he got on the mike at the end- but the producers then chose to close the show with Jim Breuer (who appears to have put on about 70 pounds since his SNL/"Half Baked" heyday) singing a pointlessly unfunny metal version of Leary's "The Asshole Song."
And one more thing wrong with the show- In a roomful of immature comics, there was somehow not a single Denis/Penis joke.
It may have been an improvement over the infamous Shaquille O'Neal celebrity roast- but if Comedy Central wants to keep doing these things, they've gotta come up with some better material.

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 12, 2003 09:15 AM
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