Based on this latest installment of Comedy Central's annual roast -- the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff -- it's hard to tell if the whole roast format has gotten tired or if the network has just lost their nerve. Whatever the reason, the roasts have produced diminishing returns over the last few years, and -- save for a few strong jokes from the actual comics on the dais -- the Hasselhoff roast was fairly toothless.
Not that I had particularly high expectations for a roast of Hasselhoff, the former star of kitschy crap like Knight Rider and Baywatch. For one, it was fairly obvious what kinds of jokes everyone was going to deliver: Hasselhoff is talentless, his career is a joke and he's an alcoholic as evidenced by the now-legendary viral video of "The Hoff" (ugh) attempting to eat a cheeseburger while very, very drunk. As expected, no one on the dais disappointed; one after another, everyone hit the same targets with varying degrees of success. The only moments that worked on the Hasselhoff roast were the ones that actually surprised. More on that in a minute.
The second major issue with the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff was that there weren't enough actual comedians on the dais. Of course, roast regulars Greg Giraldo, Jeffrey Ross, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried and up-and-coming roast star Whitney Cummings were on hand to dish out insults. Beyond that, though, it was just a collection of B-list celebrities: George Hamilton, Jerry Springer, Hulk Hogan and Pamela Anderson rounded out the guest list, and proved to be as easy of targets as The Hoff. Because they're all larger-than-life "types" and barely real people, it was always the obvious characteristics that provided joke fodder: Jerry Springer is a sleaze, Hulk Hogan is ripped and bald, George Hamilton is tan and Pamela Anderson is Pamela Anderson. I kept waiting for someone -- anyone -- to approach their sets from a new angle, but no one really did. Sure, there were the occasional bright spots; everyone had at least a couple of good jokes, and the sets from Cummings and Giraldo had some incredible high points (not surprisingly, they were the two who were left the darkest and edgiest by the Comedy Central editors, who reportedly stripped most of the teeth from the show), but the roast overall inspired too much indifference. It's supposed to be special, and it didn't really feel that way.
Elsewhere, the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff, like the "Hoff" himself, was smothered in unironic showbiz cheese. Roastmaster Seth Macfarlane has a couple of good lines, but conducted himself more like a game show host than the ringmaster of one of comedies most brutal nights. Hasselhoff appeared to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing (though whether or not he was even fully aware of what was going on around him -- if he was being laughed at or with -- is debatable), but used the evening as an excuse to do not one but two terrible musical numbers. His rebuttal had a couple of good lines, but way too much time was devoted to an unfunny exchange with KITT, the Knight Rider car (props to William Daniels for recording the bit). It was symptomatic of the problem the roast overall: it looked and felt like an event, but there just wasn't enough content to make the night memorable. The roast was about going through the motions.
- Comedy Central Premiere Date: 8/15/10