I don’t think I’m being too picky when I say that the Comedy Central Roasts pretty much suck. The most recent Roast of Charlie Sheen was the highest rated CCR (please don’t confuse that acronym with the band, Credence Clearwater Revival) in the history of CCRs. And it was mostly awful. The original CCR, a roast of Denis Leary, was the most watched program in the history of Comedy Central as of 2003 (with the exception of a maybe a few South Park episodes). The Denis Leary Roast was a big deal, and not just because it was the first one–it was packed full of comedians, and it roasted a comedian! Pretty much everyone on stage made sense being there. Now fast forward a few years… Why is a hip hop group called B.A.M.A. performing at Jeff Foxworthy’s roast? Why is Warren Sapp roasting Larry the Cable Guy? Why Why is Mike Tyson roasting Charlie Sheen? Why is Hulk Hogan roasting David Hasselhoff? A better question may be, even, why did those last three even receive roasts? Larry the Southern Stereotype is sort of reasonable (I guess) but the other two? And Donald Trump? And Pamela Anderson? They were only roasted because they are EASY TARGETS. How many times can an audience member of reasonable intelligence hear a joke about drunk Hasselhoff eating a cheeseburger off the floor–or Charlie Sheen being crazy? Between zero and one times. Why so few? Because there aren’t that many clever things even the best comedians in the business can say about it. Also, by the time these roasts air, jokes have already been made on The Tonight Show, Late Night, every other talk show, SNL, The Daily Show, Youtube parodies, Twitter, Facebook, College Humor, MAD Magazine, and probably South Park. So, my first suggestion for making the Comedy Central Roasts better:
1. Pick Someone Worthy of Being Roasted–an established comedian, not some easy target.
A roast should be based around someone who has a rich history of things to admire and to mock. There’s really only fun in ripping into someone’s terrible projects if we all know they have done better. The Hoff, Trump, and even Larry the Cable Guy don’t have any truly glorious accomplishments to round out the crap, for which they are being mocked. Here is a short list of people I think could be great roast honorees:
- Lorne Michaels (the cast would be mostly SNL people! How great would that be!?)
- Larry David (assuming anyone can roast him better than he roasts himself)
- Jerry Seinfeld (if we can’t get Larry David)
- Marc Maron (a hugely respected, yet widely disliked by comic aquaintances, veteran comic, rapidly gaining a cult following again thanks to his excellent WTF Podcast)
- Tracy Morgan (this would be crazy)
- Jay Leno (he would never agree, because he is actually an easy target)
- Steve Martin (this would be awesome, if you could find many negative things to say other than about Pink Panther 2)
- Bill Murray (same as Martin, but with the Garfield movies)
- Robin Williams
- Dennis Miller (while not as famous as many of the others, he is an outspoken Republican contributor on Fox News, which means this roast could last for days)
- Ben Stiller (this would be great assuming anyone could top Zach Galifianakis’ line on “Between Two Ferns,” when he says to Ben Stiller, “Have you ever considered following your parents into comedy?”)
- Jon Stewart (Maybe the hottest comedian out of any of the above today, but also with the worst movie track record–so, great!)
Once the perfect person has been selected to roast, the roasters need to be determined. This is the next suggestion I would make to Comedy Central:
2. Pick Roasters Worthy of Roasting–make them comedians, and make them good ones.
No more Jon Lovitz or Andy Dick, please. Or Lisa Lampanelli. Let’s get some people who are clever and don’t just make jokes about other roasters being “SO gay” or “SO *insert nonsense sex joke here*” etc. Here is another short list of comedians I think would be capable, and would probably agree to do a CCR, if they knew it wouldn’t be terrible:
- Norm MacDonald (the best part of the Bob Saget Roast, no doubt)
- Anthony Jeselnik (this young comic had the best joke of the Charlie Sheen Roast: “Charlie, the only reason you got on television in the first place is because God hates Michael J. Fox.” That’s so clever and mean (to at least three people, including God) and shocking and hilarious. Those are the kinds of jokes these roasts need.)
- Amy Schumer (because we need a lady who isn’t Lisa Lampanelli or Whitney Cummings)
- Patton Oswalt (go find the live album “Patton vs Zach vs Alcohol vs Patton,” because it is basically Patton and Zach Galifianakis drunk and roasting each other while sharing a stage at some standup show, and it is great)
- Zach Galifianakis (find the album above. Also, he is a pretty excellent roaster on “Between Two Ferns,” you can check out the Ben Stiller and Steve Carrell ones specifically.)
- Seth Myers (he just killed it at the Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner. He roasted Trump better than anyone at Trump’s own roast did. And he even roasted Obama. C’mon. You’re imagining him roasting Lorne Michaels now, aren’t you. It’s OK, me too.)
- Daniel Tosh (Comedy Central owns him, and he’s kind of a jerk, so he’d be perfect)
- Louis CK (if only if only if only)
- Jon Stewart
- Stephen Colbert
- John Oliver
- Neil Hamburger (one of the great/horrible anti-comedians, roasters of everything in general today)
And I’ll stop there, because there are only so many hours in a day I can devote myself to comedic fantasies. I would add the ghost of Greg Giraldo if I could. And I didn’t mention Jeff Ross because I assume he has to be there no matter what. I’ll let him in so long as he doesn’t wear a stupid outfit, which he has done a few times now. Also, Todd Barry would be hilarious, I think.
Not only should Comedy Central invest in some quality comedians, but they should limit the roasters to these comedians:
3. The Roasters Should Make Sense
This means no more Seth MacFarlane, first of all. This dude has been the “roast master” of the last three roasts, which hasn’t made any sense any of the times, because I’m sure he isn’t actually connected to David Hasselhoff, Donald Trump, or Charlie Sheen (none of which are comedians, again). The best thing MacFarlane has to offer as a roast master is randomly doing Stewie’s voice, and that is pathetic. He isn’t even really worth roasting at this point–he’s been taking hits the last three roasts, and South Park already ripped on Family Guy better than I can imagine anyone else would be able to.
This also means no Courtney Love, Mike Tyson, Steve-O, The Situation, Hulk Hogan, etc. Again: they are easy targets, and could be a lame or cruel punchline even if they aren’t present, if need be. Even though I like to see losers like these take a hit, they get their chance to roast, which is five to ten miserable minutes we’ll never get back. These chumps’ terrible attempts at roasting don’t justify the bulls eyes on their foreheads.
So, there you go–I’ve solved the Roast problem at Comedy Central. Now they just need to put the plan into action.