Comedy Roasts: We Roast The Cringey Ones (Including Shaq's)
With Netflix’s recent announcement of a new comedy roast series (the unfortunately named Greatest Roasts of All Time: GROAT sounds like some kind of venereal disease for which sailors need shots), ComedyNerd decided to take a look back at a few decades worth of celebrity roasts -- and give each of them the skewering they deserve.
The New York Friars Club Roasts
The granddaddy of them all, with celebrity roasts going back to 1949. The Friars were a regular He-Man Woman-Haters Club (no women members until the late 1980s and then only because of a sex-discrimination lawsuit; Phyliss Diller snuck in one year by disguising herself as a man). Some of the later Friars Club roasts were televised as episodes of The Kraft Music Hall variety show, using insult humor to sell America sliced cheese.
There's not much laughing there these days though – the IRS shut the joint down in the late 2010s for accounting books funnier than the comics who wrote them.
Famous celebs who got roasted: Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Johnny Carson
Best moment: Gilbert Gottfried decides to try out some 9/11 material just weeks after 9/11.
How we’d roast them: What can you say about a club whose most impressive member was Milton Berle’s d***?
Look at the joint -- there are more washed-up celebs than in an episode of Law and Order: SVU.
We haven’t seen this many bitter white guys gathered in one place since January 6th.
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts
The Dean Martin Show was failing in 1973, so Martin switched it up to make fun of celebrities who were more popular than he was. Which was pretty much all of them. It seems like there were a lot of aging stars on the dais, but this was the age when every actor over 40 looked like they were eligible for senior discounts at Perkins.
Famous celebs who got roasted: Ronald Reagan, Hugh Hefner, Zsa Zsa Gabor
Best moment: Don Rickles calls out Frank Sinatra for being a mob-connected thug.
Worst moment: Any time Sammy Davis Jr. and Nipsey Russell were on the dais, giving their fellow celebs an opportunity to break out the black guy material.
How we’d roast them: Dean, we’d be alcoholics too if we had to wake up to your career every day.
At least you found a place where you could drink on the job.
You're amazing – acting, singing, comedy – is there anything you can do?
And Dean, we say this from the bottom of our hearts -- Jerry Lewis was the funny one.
Comedy Central RoastThe original Comedy Central Roasts were actually broadcasts of the Friars Club events
Famous celebs who got roasted: Justin Bieber, Pamela Anderson, Donald Trump
Best moment: Chevy Chase gets roasted and none of his old pals show up. “The Chevy Chase Roast was spectacularly disastrous,” says late-night smartass Jimmy Kimmel. “Supposedly Chevy was very, very, very upset afterward.”
Worst moment: Justin Bieber attempting to fire back and proving he’s a better singer than a stand-up comic.
How we’d roast them: This place must have a lot of light pollution because we sure can’t see any stars.
We loved that you roasted Larry the Cable Guy -- what happened, Carrot Top wasn't available?
You should produce some more roasts, Comedy Central -- something has to air between South Park reruns.
Seriously, we’d love to see you make a comeback, mostly because Lisa Lampanelli really needs a f***ing job.
Shaq's All-Star Comedy Roast
Clearly intended to become a series on its own, Shaquille O’Neal was only able to get two of these half-assed specials off the ground. Maybe that’s because the most famous celeb he could book for a roasting was himself?
The shows aired on pay-per-view for $9.95 a pop, featuring cast members you don’t remember from In Living Color and even less famous comics than that. “Even in real life,” wrote ESPN’s Bill Simmons, “Shaq’s supporting cast sucks.”
Famous celebs who got roasted: None. Besides Shaq, the only other roastee was NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith.
Best moment: Moose Johnston, the fullback who blocked for Smith, clearly didn’t understand the concept of a roast. When it was his turn to stick it to his former Dallas teammate, he gave a heartfelt speech about what an awesome guy he was. Shaq responded by pretending to fall asleep, while Jamie Foxx made snoring noises.
Worst moment: Shaq laughing like crazy at every insult, trying to sell the idea that the roast is actually funny. He’s the Ed McMahon of the NBA.
How we’d roast them: If we’d rather be listening to Shaq rap, you know something ain’t right.
There were more laughs at Jerry Buss’s memorial service.
Seriously, this thing makes Kazaam feel like a comedy masterpiece.
Shaq, the only thing that missed more than your roasts was you at the free-throw line.
We haven’t felt this ripped off since the 1500 other things Shaq has tried to sell us for $9.95.
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Top image: Comedy Central