I used to love to watch the old Dean Martin roasts when I was a kid. I didn’t understand a lot of the jokes, and I didn’t know a lot of the roasters, but they were fun, and they appeared to be having fun. I would later learn about the Friar’s Club roasts which were not aired on television and tended to be very blue. When Comedy Central started doing roasts, I thought it was a great idea to bring back this type of entertainment. The roast would air on Comedy Central edited for television, and then later they would air it in their “Secret Stash” uncut with all the profanity and sexual comments intact. Later still they started releasing the roasts on DVD.
I was looking through Big Lots the other day and they had gotten in a bunch of Comedy Central DVDs. In addition to seasons of Dr. Katz and Sarah Silverman, I also found the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner. I decided to pick it up. I had seen most of the roast in various chunks on television, but this was billed as an extended edition. I popped the disc in and hit play. They introduced roastmaster Jason Alexander and he introduced Shatner and I sat back and scratched my head and wondered where the bit with Shatner calling Leonard Nimoy about doing the roast went to. I know I saw that when I watched the show on television, and I was almost positive that it opened the show. Surprise, that bit wasn’t on the DVD for some reason.
As for the actual roast some of the jokes were funny, some were repetitive. Everyone had some form of a gay joke about George Takei and Andy Dick. Lisa Lampanelli was the target of jokes about her size and her penchant for having sex with black men. Farrah Fawcett looked stoned and took lots of shots over her looks back in the 70s on the iconic poster and her looks today. Not a whole lot was really said about Shatner with the exception of some toupee jokes. The one thing that really stuck out was that after each of the roasters finished with Shatner they all said how honored they were to be there with him… all of them but two; George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. There has long been stories about the backstage animosity between Shatner and the supporting actors on Star Trek. Much was made of the fact Takei personally did not invite Shatner to his wedding. So looking back now when Takei ends his roasting by telling Shatner “F**k you”, it’s clear that Takei was being honest rather than ironic.
One other observation I made while watching the DVD was how many of the attending celebrities were no longer with us. Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine, and Greg Giraldo all were prominently featured, and they are all dead just 4 years later. I admit I found the roast much funnier when I first saw bits of it on Comedy Central. I’m not sure if the bits seem funnier in small doses or if the jokes just don’t hold up to repeated viewings, but I was nowhere near as enthusiastic about the roast as I once was. After this viewing, I’d give it 2 1/2 stars.
Tags: Andy Dick, Betty White, Big Lots, blue, comedy, Comedy Central, David Carradine, Dean Martin, DVD, Farrah Fawcett, Friar's Club, gay, George Takei, Greg Giraldo, Jason Alexander, Leonard Nimoy, Lisa Lampanelli, Nichelle Nichols, profanity, roast, Secret Stash, stand up comedy, Star Trek, television, William Shatner