The last few Comedy Central roasts have been such tired, predictable exercises that the most recent Roast of Roseanne was, at the very least, a step in the right direction. It was no less predictable, really, but at least the network figured out that if they're going to continue to do these roasts, they ought to have someone worth roasting. Roseanne Barr may be a lot of things -- comedian, actress, tyrant, reality show star, victim, bully, nut farmer, presidential candidate -- but there's little denying that she's a real-deal comedy icon. It's a big improvement over, say, David Hasselhoff.
Unfortunately, the lineup of roasters was a little less inspired, as it was made up of only half comedians, including current roast mainstays Amy Schumer, Anthony Jeselnik and, of course, Jeff Ross. The rest of the dais consisted of actors and TV stars, including Ellen Barkin (replacing Sharon Stone), Katey Sagal, Seth Green and Carrie Fisher. It wasn't long before every person on stage was reduced to a single character trait for the sake of comedy, so the roast consisted of different versions of the same jokes: Seth Green is short, Ellen Barkin is old, Carrie Fisher is washed up, Wayne Brady (who also appeared) isn't black enough. And when the obvious joke didn't just write itself, there was some strange consensus in which everyone on the dais made an unspoken agreement about what the joke would be. Amy Schumer became a "slut." Anthony Jeselnik was a "rapist." How this happened, I can't say, but it was like some sort of comedy talking point.
For her part, Roseanne seemed like a good sport -- even when ex-husband Tom Arnold made a surprise appearance and took a turn at the microphone, providing one of the evening's only spontaneous moments. Though her set wasn't any better than anyone else's, Roseanne genuinely seemed to have a good time. What's better is that it was obvious that the guest roasters actually respected and admired the person they were roasting for a change, lending the show at least a mild tone of reverence instead of the usual disdain and despair. Comedy Central is still going to have to shake things up a little if they intend to keep putting on these roasts, but at least The Roast of Roseanne offered some inoffensive wheel spinning.
(Read the full Roseanne Roast review)
Photo by The Picture Group/courtesy Comedy Central