I don’t know why I watch the Comedy Central Roasts, the routinely unfunny raunchfests that pop-up annually to target some has-been or semi-celebrity. But I just watched the latest one, where Bob Saget was the victim.
As usual, the jokes were mean and lame, thoroughly lacking any cleverness. Most of the roasters tried to fill that void by making more references to genitalia and sexual proclivities, which is not the same as being funny. And then there was Norm McDonald, who set a new standard for least-humorous TV appearance, surpassing the previous “when were you ever funny?” record-holder, Andy Dick.
However, three lines from the night stood out. One was from Jeffrey Ross, the comedian who’s the driving force behind these roasts, a guy who loves old-time comics and the Friars Club and works to keep that spirit alive. He’s also a pretty good standup (with a new special this Friday night on Comedy Central) whose attack humor comes with both edge and wit.
On this roast, he closed by reminding the crowd that, although Saget is notorious for being absolutely filthy on stage, Ross hadn’t used a single raunchy word while at the podium. Then he added: “But as a tribute to the late great George Carlin, I would like to say seven more words you’ll never hear on television — ‘and the Emmy goes to Bob Saget.'”
Then there was Cloris Leachman, who entered the comedy pantheon with her Emmy-winning performances on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and her role as Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein.” Surprised to find herself sharing a stage with such non-entities as Greg Giraldo, Jim Norton, and John Stamos, Leachman quipped, “I don’t know who any of you are, but that’s probably because I watch TV, go to the movies, and read the trades.” Then, for good measure, she added, “Please, someone punch me in the face, so I can see some stars!!”
Leachman was the only roaster to get a standing ovation.