Tom Brady Should Take a Page from the Shaq Roasts of the Early Aughts

Roasting should be a full-contact sport
Tom Brady Should Take a Page from the Shaq Roasts of the Early Aughts

Leave it to the killjoys at TMZ to debunk the rumors that Tom Brady is stalling a broadcast career to do stand-up at your local Chuckle Shack. Citing yet another anonymous source (apparently, no one wants to go on the record about Brady’s comedy career), TMZ reports that open mics are not in his future. But that doesn’t mean laughs are completely off the table. Instead of stand-up, Brady is reportedly considering becoming a subject of a Comedy Central roast, tentatively (and immodestly) titled “The Greatest Roast of All Time.” Which would make Brady the GROAT?

If we can’t watch the 7-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback do a little crowd work, we’ll settle for the roast, thanks. But I have a suggestion — rather than the increasingly toothless insult parties thrown by Comedy Central, Brady should look to Shaquille O’Neal’s athlete roasts of the early 2000s. With Shaq himself and all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith as the targets, comedy roasting became a full-contact sport.

So take it from Shaq, Tom — he’s got a few roast lessons that could lead the GROAT to victory. Such us

Involve Clueless Friends and Teammates

The secret ingredient that made Shaq’s specials instant classics (albeit sometimes for the wrong reasons)? Intermix comedians with athletes who have no idea what’s going on. At Smith’s roast, for example, Cowboy teammate Daryl “Moose” Johnston stood up and gave a lovely tribute to the man he blocked for. It’s unclear if Moose understood how roasts worked, but he got pretty red-faced when heckled for his lack of jokes. How boring was he? Shaq pretended to fall asleep, while host Jamie Foxx snored over Moose’s homage. Jeff Ross, who also took Smith apart, joked that he would keep his segment short “because Moose Johnston did all my stuff.”

The great thing about inviting dopey quarterbacks like Doug Williams to tell jokes is watching them get the roast treatment from the professional mean people on the dais. Foxx pretty much heckled Williams into oblivion before he could even finish by pretending to be the quarterback’s conscience: “I am going down in flames. Maybe I should get off the stage.”

Then there was unfiltered Michael Irvin before he’d undergone years of media training. These days, he probably wouldn’t launch an Emmitt Smith story with “I'm gonna try to remember it, you all know I smoked a lot of weed, it messes with your memory."

Invite Mean People

This should go without saying, Tom, but don’t be afraid to hire the people with the sharpest comedy knives. Bill Simmons, still at ESPN back in the 2000s, marveled at Foxx’s “no effs to give” approach. “He brought a mean-spirited edge to the proceedings,” Simmons wrote. “As Foxx kept saying all night, ‘I don’t give a f***.’”

Roastmaster General Ross, then at the peak of his powers, laid into all the athletes in the room at the Smith roast. “Troy Aikman wanted to be here,” joked Ross without an ounce of compassion, “but he got a concussion opening the invitation.”

Shaq took his lumps during his roast as well. “The only thing worse than an earthquake in California is you coming out with another rap record,” shot D.L. Hughley. “You made a record that didn’t even go wood.” Sure, people might be afraid of Shaq because he’s such a big guy, but Hughley isn’t worried about revenge. If he wants to make sure Shaq would never hit him, he’d just dress like a free throw.

Laugh at Yourself

Unlike other subjects of celebrity roasts like, say, Chevy Chase, Shaq seemed to genuinely enjoy getting roasted. Get the message, Tom Brady? The night’s all about you!

You know what’s coming, big guy: jokes about Gisele, your age, your weird Mean Daddy issues with Bill Belichick, your crybaby whining to referees, the constantly rotating designer hairstyles. (Hey, this really could be fun!) So hitch up your practice pants and get ready to take it. The more you laugh, the more you’ll win over the haters. 

That said, we’re still not forgiving you for Deflategate. 

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