Comedy Central Roast is a series of celebrity roast specials that air on the American television channel Comedy Central. The first official Comedy Central Roast premiered on August 10, 2003. On average one or two roasts air every year. There are eight to ten people invited who roast each other before finally roasting the title subject of each show. As of 2019, seventeen roasts have aired. Targets of roasts have included musicians, actors and comedians. Since 2010, Comedy Central affiliates outside the United States have occasionally produced their own roasts; twelve such roasts have aired so far, in five countries.

Comedy Central Roast
GenreRoast, comedy
Running time90 minutes
Original release
NetworkComedy Central
ReleaseAugust 10, 2003 (2003-08-10) –
September 15, 2019 (2019-09-15)

History edit

Between 1998 and 2002, the American television channel Comedy Central produced and televised the annual roasts of the New York Friars Club, which have been conducted since 1950.

After the original five-year agreement expired, the network began producing its own roasts in the same spirit.[1] The first, featuring roastee Denis Leary (and produced by Leary's production company, Apostle), aired on August 10, 2003, and was the most watched program in the channel's history, excluding episodes of South Park.[2]

Some roastees have stated that certain topics are off limits. Pamela Anderson, for example, prohibited jokes about her Hepatitis C infection. Joan Rivers disallowed jokes about her daughter Melissa, William Shatner asked that the death of his wife not be mentioned, and Donald Trump prohibited jokes about him not being as wealthy as he claims he is.[3] Others, like David Hasselhoff, have imposed no limits on the topics.[4] Although Charlie Sheen initially agreed to no restrictions on his roast, he later said during an interview with Jay Leno that he requested jokes about his mother be edited out of the broadcast.[5]

During Sheen's roast, Steve-O made the joke "The last time this many nobodies were at a roast, at least Great White was playing". This was a reference to The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that killed 100 people on February 20, 2003. It was removed from broadcast on Steve-O's request.[6]

During Denis Leary's roast, Lenny Clarke, a friend of Leary's, said there was a carton of cigarettes backstage from Bill Hicks with the message, "Wish I had gotten these to you sooner." This joke was cut from the final broadcast.[7] During Roseanne Barr's roast, Jeff Ross compared fellow roaster Seth Green to James Holmes, the mass murderer responsible for the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting. The joke was not in the broadcast program.[8] During the roast of Justin Bieber, multiple jokes about the passing of Paul Walker, a co-star and close friend of fellow roaster Ludacris, were cut from the official broadcast.[9]

Roasts edit

RoasteeRoast master(s)Original air dateUS viewers
Jeff GarlinAugust 10, 2003 (2003-08-10)3.2[10]
Bill Engvall, Ron White, & Larry the Cable GuyMarch 20, 2005 (2005-03-20)6.2[11]

Roasters: Steve Bridges as US President George W. Bush, Nick DiPaolo, Christian Finnegan, Greg Giraldo, Gilbert Gottfried as Jeff's cow, Heidi Klum, Lisa Lampanelli, Denis Leary, Jay Mohr, Patrice O'Neal, Colin Quinn, Anna Nicole Smith, and G. E. Smith. A special, pre-taped, guest appearance was made by Dr. Phil.

The hip-hop group B.A.M.A. performed their cover of "Sweet Home Alabama".[citation needed]
Jimmy KimmelAugust 14, 2005 (2005-08-14)4.3[13]

Roasters: Courtney Love, Adam Carolla, Bea Arthur, Nick DiPaolo, Greg Giraldo, Elon Gold, Eddie Griffin, Lady Bunny, Lisa Lampanelli, Tommy Lee, Jeff Ross, Sarah Silverman, and Andy Dick, with pre-taped appearances by David Spade and Hugh Hefner.[12]

Notable audience members: Anna Nicole Smith, Doug Benson and Wayne Federman.

Dennis Rodman was amongst the crowd on the stage. This roast featured a large amount of jokes and satire regarding sex directed from roasters toward fellow roasters, complete with Andy Dick appearing as Pamela's plastic surgeon and groping her breasts as part of his skit. Many of the jokes were also directed at Courtney Love for appearing to be inebriated (but claiming to have been sober for a year), Bea Arthur's masculinity, Andy Dick's ambiguous sexuality and Lisa Lampanelli's full figured body as well as her attraction towards black people.
Jason AlexanderAugust 20, 2006 (2006-08-20)3.6[15]

Roasters: Andy Dick (as the "love child" of James T. Kirk and Spock), Farrah Fawcett, Greg Giraldo, Lisa Lampanelli, Artie Lange, Nichelle Nichols, Patton Oswalt, Kevin Pollak, Jeff Ross, George Takei, Betty White, and Fred Willard performing the roasting duties. Special, pre-taped, guest appearances were made by Leonard Nimoy, Sandra Bullock, Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Clint Howard.

Notable audience members: Andy Daly, Adrian Zmed, David Carradine, Roger Corman, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, René Auberjonois, Rosalind Chao, Mark Valley, Carrie Fisher, Scott Hamilton, Brad Paisley, Reno 911! stars Cedric Yarbrough and Niecy Nash, and Brian Posehn.[citation needed]

Executive Produced by Joel Gallen, with Aaron Matthew Lee serving as Head Writer. The Leonard Nimoy sequence which originally opened the broadcast on Comedy Central (Nimoy and Shatner were shown having an argument over the phone) was omitted from the DVD release, while many pre-taped sequences and jokes told during the roast itself were added back in after originally being cut. The tagline for this roast was "The Shat hits the fan." The Roast was nominated for a 2007 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special.[14] The background music for the montage of Shatner was "Everything I Do, I Do with William Shatner" by the Star Trek-influenced rock band, Warp 11. Women dressed as green Orion slave girls can be clearly seen tending bar.
Katt WilliamsAugust 12, 2007 (2007-08-12)3.8[16]

Roasters: Ice-T, Jimmy Kimmel, Snoop Dogg, Greg Giraldo, Patton Oswalt, Lisa Lampanelli, Jeff Ross, Carrot Top, Sommore, and Brigitte Nielsen.

Notable audience members: Ron Jeremy, comedian Luenell, comedian Red Grant, comedian Godfrey, Scott Adsit from 30 Rock, Nicole "Coco" Austin, Kordell Stewart, Derek Parker, Moonlite BunnyRanch owner Dennis Hof, Alexis Arquette, and Chyna.[citation needed]

The roast was produced by Joel Gallen.
John StamosAugust 16, 2008 (2008-08-16)2.2[21]

Roasters: Susie Essman, Greg Giraldo, Brian Posehn, Jim Norton, Jeff Garlin as fictional Full House executive producer Saul Schwartz (though he broke character at the end), Gilbert Gottfried, Jon Lovitz, Norm Macdonald, Cloris Leachman, and Jeff Ross.[17] Pre-taped appearances were delivered by Sarah Silverman, Lewis Black, and Don Rickles.

Notable audience members: Full House co-stars Lori Loughlin, Jodie Sweetin, and Dave Coulier along with Growing Pains star Alan Thicke, Rex Lee of Entourage, Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise star Scott Bakula, Executive Jordan Levin, actors Carlos Jacott and Jonathan Silverman, and Alonzo Bodden.[citation needed]

Norm Macdonald's set was notable in that it avoided racy content and featured intentionally cheesy and antiquated jokes.[18] He later revealed that the material was taken from a book given to him by his father that contains jokes meant to be told at retirement parties circa 1950, and that when the roast's showrunner asked him to be "shocking," he decided to go in the opposite direction of the usual roast humor.[19] Artie Lange was scheduled but did not show at the roast because he had entered a rehabilitation center. It was later revealed that Saget was highly upset by the jokes aimed at Candace Cameron and the Olsen twins.[20] The DVD was released on December 30, 2008.

The DVD version did not include the Full House theme song as Saget comes out at the end to roast everyone who roasted him. It was replaced by instrumental music. The TV version has the theme song only.
Lisa Lampanelli[22]March 16, 2009 (2009-03-16)4.1[13]

Roasters: Nick DiPaolo, Jeff Foxworthy, Greg Giraldo, Toby Keith, Jeff Ross, Reno Collier, Maureen McCormick, Warren Sapp, and Gary Busey. Bill Engvall made a pre-taped appearance.

Notable audience members: Doug Benson, Larry's wife Cara Whitney, Gary Valentine, and John Melendez.

Originally taped on March 1, 2009. This marks the first time that a previous roastmaster has become a roastee, and the first time that a roast was broadcast in 16:9 high-definition.
Kathy GriffinAugust 9, 2009 (2009-08-09)2.8[13]

Roasters: Carl Reiner, Gilbert Gottfried, Mario Cantone, Whitney Cummings, Tom Arnold, Brad Garrett, Robin Quivers, Greg Giraldo and Jeff Ross. Donald Trump made a pre-taped appearance and Melissa Rivers came from the audience to roast her mother.

Notable audience members: Melissa Rivers, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Alan Thicke, T.J. Miller, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris.[citation needed]

Originally taped on July 26, 2009.[23] It was released on the Comedy Central Emmy Consideration DVD sent only to members of the Consideration program. At the time aged 76, Joan Rivers is the oldest honoree to date.
Seth MacFarlaneAugust 15, 2010 (2010-08-15)3.5[27]

Roasters: Jeff Ross, Pamela Anderson, Lisa Lampanelli, Hulk Hogan, Jerry Springer,[24] Whitney Cummings, Greg Giraldo, George Hamilton,[25] and Gilbert Gottfried, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan made pre-taped appearances, and William Daniels reprised his role as the voice of KITT.

Notable audience members: John Slattery, Craig Robinson, Christina Milian, Hasselhoff's two daughters, Hayley and Taylor, Hulk Hogan's son, Nick, and fellow Baywatch alumni Alexandra Paul, Nicole Eggert, Gena Lee Nolin, Traci Bingham, Angelica Bridges and Jeremy Jackson.[citation needed]

To close the show, Hasselhoff sang "This Is The Moment" from the musical Jekyll & Hyde, which he formerly starred in.[26] The DVD was released in January 2011.

This is also the final roast in which Greg Giraldo participated. Giraldo died on September 29, 2010.
Seth MacFarlaneMarch 15, 2011 (2011-03-15)3.5[32]

Roasters: Whitney Cummings, Anthony Jeselnik, Larry King, Lisa Lampanelli, Marlee Matlin (interpreted by interpreter Jack Jason & a surprise appearance by Gilbert Gottfried), Jeff Ross, Snoop Dogg, and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.[28]

Notable audience members: Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Ice-T, Russell Simmons, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Lindsay Lohan, Alexis Arquette, Joel Madden and David Foster.[29]

Originally taped on March 9, 2011.[30] The roast consisted of jokes toward Trump's hairstyle, his show The Apprentice, and his family. Jokes were also made about Jeselnik's fame (or lack thereof), Matlin's deafness, King's age, and Jersey Shore. Several roasters paid respect to Greg Giraldo, a Comedy Central Roast regular, who died on September 29, 2010. The roast was dedicated in his memory. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's performance was widely panned by critics and viewers alike; as a result, Comedy Central pulled several of his jokes from the television airing of the roast.[31] This was also the first time someone served as roastmaster more than once, as Seth MacFarlane also roasted David Hasselhoff.
Seth MacFarlaneSeptember 19, 2011 (2011-09-19)6.4[38]

Roasters: Anthony Jeselnik, Jon Lovitz, Patrice O'Neal, Jeff Ross, Amy Schumer, William Shatner, Steve-O,[33] Mike Tyson, and Kate Walsh.

Notable audience members: Brooke Mueller, Aaron Paul, Slash, Maria Menounos, Corbin Bernsen, Duane Chapman, Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Michael Boatman, Kristin Cavallari, Ciara Hanna, Wayne Federman, Richard Kind, Ron Jeremy, and Patrick Warburton.[citation needed]

The roast was taped in Los Angeles on September 10, 2011, and was broadcast nine days later, exactly one hour after the premiere of Ashton Kutcher's first episode on Two and a Half Men where he replaced Sheen.[34][dead link] Slash made an appearance playing his guitar during Sheen's entrance.[35] Harvey Levin from was scheduled to appear but ended up not doing so. During an interview on The View, Sheen's ex-wife Denise Richards stated that she hadn't been invited to appear and, while she thought roasting her ex-husband could be humorous and that he would be able to take it, she feared it would have a negative impact on their daughters.[36] Sheen's famous family members, Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen, were unable to attend as they were promoting their film The Way,[37] although Sheen appeared in a commercial for the roast, spoofing his film Apocalypse Now.

A montage of Sheen's film and television work were featured, though due to legal reasons, clips of his tenure on Two and a Half Men were never used. In reference to how his Two and a Half Men character Charlie Harper was killed off the series (hit by a train), Sheen arrived on stage riding on a replica locomotive. In the UK and Turkey, on the network which Two and a Half Men airs, the roast aired directly after Kutcher's first Two and a Half Men episode. This was O'Neal's final television appearance before his death on November 29, 2011.

With 6.4 million viewers in its original debut, this roast was the highest rated Comedy Central Roast to date.[38]
Jane LynchAugust 12, 2012 (2012-08-12)2.6[42]

Roasters: Ellen Barkin, Wayne Brady, Carrie Fisher, Gilbert Gottfried, Seth Green, Anthony Jeselnik, Jeff Ross, Katey Sagal, and Amy Schumer, and also featured a surprise appearance by Barr's ex-husband Tom Arnold.[39]

Notable audience members: Sarah Chalke, Natasha Leggero, Blake Anderson, Wayne Federman, Alicia Goranson, Michael Fishman, Frances Fisher, Tyler, the Creator,Traci Lords, Chris Colfer, Caroline Rhea and Fred Willard.[citation needed]

The roast was taped in Los Angeles on August 4, 2012.[39] Sharon Stone had been announced as one of the roasters,[40] but dropped out for unknown reasons prior to the event. The final surprise of the night was Barr's choice to close out the show by legitimately singing the last two lines of "The Star-Spangled Banner", in an effort to finally redeem herself for her infamous and controversial rendition of the American anthem at a nationally broadcast baseball game in 1990.[41] This is Gilbert Gottfried's last roast appearance, as he died on April 12, 2022.
Seth RogenSeptember 2, 2013 (2013-09-02)3.1[44]
Kevin HartMarch 30, 2015 (2015-03-30)4.4[49]

Roasters: Hannibal Buress, Pete Davidson, Chris D'Elia, Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, Natasha Leggero, Ludacris, Shaquille O'Neal, Jeff Ross, Snoop Dogg, and Martha Stewart.[45][46]

Notable audience members: Scooter Braun, Dave Chappelle, Tito Ortiz, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Kendall Jenner, Wayne Federman, Jack Gilinsky, Blake Anderson, Katharine McPhee, Kourtney Kardashian, Kate Walsh, Chris Paul, Trevor Noah, Sarah Tiana, Larissa Marolt, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jaden Smith, Gloria Allred and Kyle Kinane.[citation needed]

In an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen DeGeneres revealed that she was approached by Braun, Bieber's manager, to participate in the roast, but refused because she did not want to be mean to Bieber. Jokes referencing the death of Ludacris' Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker were cut out of the television broadcast.[47] Additionally, a joke by Hannibal Buress which called the roast an "extremely transparent attempt to be more likable in the public eye" was cut.[48]

Being age 21 at the time of filming, Bieber is the youngest roastee to be roasted by Comedy Central to date.
David SpadeSeptember 5, 2016 (2016-09-05)1.3 (CC) 2.3 (simulcast)[55]

Roasters: Jimmy Carr, Ann Coulter,[50] Pete Davidson, Nikki Glaser, Jewel, Ralph Macchio, Peyton Manning, Rob Riggle, Jeff Ross.[51] Amy Poehler appeared in a pre-recorded segment.

Notable audience members: Maria Shriver, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nick Swardson, Fred Savage, Chad Lowe, Kate Walsh, Robbie Williams, Brandon Flowers, Marlee Matlin

Originally taped on August 27, 2016. The Roast was simulcast on Spike and TV Land. Bo Derek was originally announced as a roaster, but was replaced by Jewel due to a scheduling conflict. A majority of the jokes referenced Rob Lowe's infamous sex tapes, and Jewel even sang a parody of her song You Were Meant for Me as a reference to it. According to Tony Hinchcliffe, who was assigned by Comedy Central to write the first draft of Ann Coulter's set, Coulter was unaware of the nature of roasts when she agreed to participate.[52] Many of the other roasters harshly targeted Coulter. She was criticised for her strong conservative political views, called a "cunt" by Davidson, told to commit suicide by Carr, compared to members of the Ku Klux Klan, and even likened to Adolf Hitler.[53] The crowd reacted to much of Coulter's set with indifference or booing. Coulter claims that her set "killed" live and that her apparent bombing in the aired version of the roast was the result of unflattering editing. Ross refuted Coulter's claim, stating "We edited it to make her look as best we could".[54] Her set centered around a plug for her book In Trump We Trust, which was met with loud sustained booing from the audience.
Joseph Gordon-LevittJuly 29, 2018 (2018-07-29)1.76 (CC) 2.8 (simulcast)[59]
Sean HayesSeptember 15, 2019 (2019-09-15)2.4[60]

Roasters: Robert De Niro, Blake Griffin, Caitlyn Jenner, Chris Redd, Jeff Ross, Ken Jeong, Nikki Glaser, Caroline Rhea, Adam Carolla. Ireland Baldwin spoke at the dais, referencing the pejorative voicemail he left her in 2007, as did a number of other roasters. Lady Gaga appeared in a pre-taped segment to promote Exploring the Arts. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog also appeared.

Notable audience members: David Spade, Larry David, Dakota Johnson.

Debra Messing was initially announced as a roaster, but pulled out due to a schedule conflict. Joel McHale also had been announced but dropped out. The roast was also meant to promote Exploring the Arts, a charity that Baldwin supported. Paul Anka, the lyricist of "My Way", appeared at the end to sing the song with Baldwin. This was notably the first roast since the Jeff Foxworthy roast where the roastee did not make any kind of grand entrance. Jeff Ross was an executive producer of this roast.

Recurring roasters edit

The table below features any roasters who have appeared on multiple Comedy Central Roasts. As of the Alec Baldwin roast, the most frequent roaster has been Jeff Ross, who has appeared in all but the first two roasts, for a total of 15, and has yet to be a roastmaster.[a] Greg Giraldo has the second-most appearances, with a total of eight roasts from 2005 until his death in 2010 (nine including the 2002 New York Friars Club roast of Chevy Chase). As of 2019, Seth MacFarlane is the most frequent roastmaster with three turns in the role.

Roaster Roastee
Denis Leary (2003)
Jeff Foxworthy (2005)
Pamela Anderson (2005)
William Shatner (2006)
Flavor Flav (2007)
Bob Saget (2008)
Larry the Cable Guy (2009)
Joan Rivers (2009)
David Hasselhoff (2010)
Donald Trump (2011)
Charlie Sheen (2011)
Roseanne Barr (2012)
James Franco (2013)
Justin Bieber (2015)
Rob Lowe (2016)
Bruce Willis (2018)
Alec Baldwin (2019)
Pamela Anderson O  
Tom Arnold    
Mario Cantone    
Adam Carolla    
Whitney Cummings      
Pete Davidson    
Andy Dick    
Nick DiPaolo        
Snoop Dogg      
Bill Engvall RM  
Jeff Foxworthy O  
Jeff Garlin RM  
Greg Giraldo                
Nikki Glaser      
Gilbert Gottfried              
Anthony Jeselnik      
Jimmy Kimmel RM    
Lisa Lampanelli         RM    
Larry the Cable Guy RM O
Natasha Leggero    
Jon Lovitz    
Seth MacFarlane 000 000 000 000 RM RM RM 000 000 000 000 000
Patrice O'Neal    
Patton Oswalt    
Kevin Pollak    
Colin Quinn    
Don Rickles    
Jeff Ross                              
Amy Schumer    
William Shatner O  
Sarah Silverman        
David Spade   RM
Martha Stewart    
Donald Trump   O
   Scheduled performer
   Performer who made a surprise appearance
RM  Indicates a roastmaster
O  Indicates performer's own roast

Venues edit

The following table features the venues where multiple Comedy Central Roasts were filmed. As of the Alec Baldwin roast, the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California has hosted the most roasts, namely the roasts of Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff, Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber, and Rob Lowe.

Roasts City Venue Roastee(s)
5 Culver City Sony Pictures Studios Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff, Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber, and Rob Lowe
3 New York City Hammerstein Ballroom Denis Leary, Jeff Foxworthy, and Donald Trump
2 Burbank Warner Bros. Studios Bob Saget and Larry the Cable Guy
Los Angeles CBS Studio Center William Shatner and Joan Rivers
Hollywood Palladium Roseanne Barr and Bruce Willis
1 Beverly Hills Saban Theatre Alec Baldwin
Culver City Culver Studios James Franco
Los Angeles Old Warner Brothers Studio Flavor Flav

Cancelled roasts edit

In 2008, a roast for the musician Willie Nelson was planned to coincide with the release of his box set, One Hell of a Ride, but was ultimately cancelled, according to Jeff Ross.[62][63][64]

A roast for the musician Kid Rock was announced in November 2010 and scheduled for January 2011, but was later replaced by the Donald Trump roast.[65] Rock's roast was rescheduled for August 2011,[66] but was replaced again, this time by Charlie Sheen's roast.[34] Kid Rock agreed to doing the roast if it were filmed in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, a condition that Comedy Central refused.[67]

International edit

The following roasts aired on international Comedy Central channels:

Country/Region (Channel) Roastee Roastmaster Original air date Ref.
(Comedy Central Africa)
Steve Hofmeyr Trevor Noah September 24, 2012
Kenny Kunene Jimmy Carr April 28, 2014 [68]
Somizi Mhlongo Gareth Cliff May 7, 2018 [69]
AKA Pearl Thusi February 21, 2019 [70]
Khanyi Mbau Mpho Popps August 8, 2022
Latin America
(Comedy Central Latin America)
Héctor Suárez Héctor Suárez Gomís May 18, 2013 [71]
(Comedy Central Netherlands)
Gordon Jörgen Raymann December 20, 2016
Giel Beelen Gijs Staverman December 13, 2017
Johnny de Mol Jeroom Snelders December 18, 2018
Ali B Sanne Wallis de Vries December 17, 2019
Hans Klok Henry van Loon December 21, 2021
Famke Louise Dolf Jansen January 16, 2023
  New Zealand
(Comedy Central New Zealand)
Mike King Willy de Wit December 15, 2010 [72]
Murray Mexted September 7, 2011
(Comedy Central Spain)
Santiago Segura Alex O'Dogherty May 14, 2014
El Gran Wyoming Andreu Buenafuente July 12, 2015
José Mota Anabel Alonso February 24, 2019 [73]

Awards and nominations edit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref
2007 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner Nominated [14]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Ross hosted the roast of Gene Simmons, a third-season episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels on A&E.[61]

References edit

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