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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner: Extended and Uncut (review)

I presume that the fact that “roasts” have been around forever means that people really like them — roasters, roastees, and audiences alike — but I can’t see how that can possibly be the case. The pointlessly crude, insulting “jokes” about the weight, addictions, talent (or lack thereof), and sexual proclivities of the “entertainers” in attendance here prompt guffaws that seem strained and aimed directly at the camera, as if everyone has to prove what a sport they are in the face of such mean-spirited and unnecessary insults. Most of them look like they’d really rather cry but they desperately need the paycheck; it’s like watching a stripper pretend she’s really turned on to be disrobing for a crowd of pervs. And that’s even before we get to everyone making nasty fun of Shatner. Fans of the actor may get a kick out of the rare clips of the man hamming it up as he sings classic pop songs, or hawks margarine in old TV commercials, but beyond that, there’s nothing here to divert any but the less discriminating viewers as Shatner is taunted by people you’ve heard of but couldn’t care less about — Andy Dick, Jeffrey Ross — and some seemingly pulled off the street, like “Patton Oswalt” and “Greg Giraldo.” Extras include behind-the-scenes footage, red-carpet interviews, and a making-of featurette. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

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  • David C

    I haven’t seen the roast, but Patton Oswalt is actually a *really* funny standup comic – not to mention a card-carrying geek who, even on the road, goes to a comic book store every Wednesday for the new books….

  • David C

    Oh yeah, forgot what I meant to say about “celebrity roasts.” Again, I haven’t seen this one, but it seems like the modern revival of the “roast,” from what I’ve read and heard, lacks a lot of what made the old Dean Martin roasts fun (supposedly – I haven’t seen much of those, either.)

    With the original roasts, roasters and roastees were basically peers. Entertainers of more or less the same background and age, with genuine affection for each other, possibly good friends in “real life,” etc. “Among friends,” people might say things that sound mean-spirited, but it’s really not.

    The modern ones, I think, are more like “Round up whatever comics you can for this TV special,” most of whom probably have no particular tie to, or even affection for, the roastee. So you get a lot of comics just dusting off whatever “make fun of Star Trek” material they have, and/or coming off as genuinely mean-spirited because they don’t even *know* the guy.

    I’ve always meant to check out the relatively recent roast of Chevy Chase, as I’ve heard it’s a remarkable train wreck, one where not only did the roasters lack any affection, but most of them actually genuinely *hated* Chase.

  • Kate

    Gotta throw in my snaps for Patton Oswalt as well. I have seen his live stand-up act many times here in San Francisco, he’s done a lot of good tv writing, and he’s really great–and yes a true geek. His Comedy Central show last year, “The Comedians of Comedy,” which featured he and a couple of his comic friends (Brian Posein, etc.) on a comedy road trip, was great TV.

  • Jenn

    Watching Shatner fry is hilarious, and the retro footage only adds to it all. Affection isn’t the point of a comedy central roast; even thinking of the idea is like a bad Family Guy Joke.

    “So let’s make a show, Carl. Let’s take a celebrity, and sit them in the center of a room full of all of these well-known other celebrities, who insult the shit out of them”

    “Don’t you think that would just be… I dunno… sad? And maybe pathetic?”

    “Nooo, nooo. It’ll be all right in the end. We’ll make them pose with cake or something.”

    But the point is to laugh at how incredibly insulted said celebrity is, and William Shatner’s roast is intensely hilarious. Plus, good old Kirk does get in a few jabs at the end. Failed try, but a good one.

  • MaryAnn

    the point is to laugh at how incredibly insulted said celebrity is

    So we are required to laugh even if we don’t think humiliation is funny?

  • cvp

    I could not stand to watch any more of it after 20 minutes and at least 5 entertainers talking about anal sex and shit, dicks with shit on them, etc. Maybe once is funny, but the theme seemed to be all about butt fucking.Disgusting and not really funny

  • drew ryce

    David C is entirely in the right of it. The roasts work where the roasters are peers with an affection for the roastee. The Hugh Grant best man toast in 4 Weddings would be a good example.

    The current incarnation, a quick payday for lousy comics, is just another day at the comedy club. Generally dull and in bad taste with an occasional piece of real comedy.

  • Phoenix

    The modern ones, I think, are more like “Round up whatever comics you can for this TV special,” most of whom probably have no particular tie to, or even affection for, the roastee.

    I think David C hit the nail on the head there.

    I’m trying to remember what roast had Cloris Leachman saying “who is that?” to the panel of roasters like everyone who was there jut got called to come last minute and have no prior knowledge of the other roasters, and have to dredge up jokes about being gay,fat,or sexually impotent

  • Hello.

    Thanks admin. Very very good…;)

  • drewryce

    All they usually are, Roasts don’t have to be dull and nasty. Jamie Foxx pulls off some good comedy in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_L-gbpKZpo

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