Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The comedy "roast" - overdone and tough to swallow

I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed with any comedy programme as I have with the “comedy roasts” I’ve seen recently on TV.

As I understood it, a “roast” was the opportunity for comedians/actors to make fun of a famous colleague in public, telling tall tales or truthful ones - with the roastee’s fans, family, well-wishers and other colleagues also being present to both take and give insults in return. But basically the roastee has to grin and bear it in good humour. I also thought it was an American thing, so didn’t really expect to see it over here – especially as comedy roasts hadn’t shown up on the comedy channels.
So when I saw advertisements for comedy roasts of three British celebrities, I was thrilled! I thought it would be fun to watch other famous people, especially those in the comedy circuit, use humour and wit to mock, praise or tell anecdotes about the roastee, as it were. I was really, really looking forward to it.

I missed the first show, where the guest of honour was Bruce Forsyth (I understand from reviews that it was a pretty tame affair, with very little bad language), because I was on holiday. But I did manage to watch Sharon Osbourne being roasted - and what a disappointment it mostly was, being funny only mildly, and that only seldom. It seemed to be mostly a chance for the very worst of vulgar language to be aired, which seemed to amuse everybody hugely. Of wit and actual humour there was very little evidence, especially from the so-called comedians. Why do modern comedians think that filthy language is a good substitute for actual humour? And why oh why are there people who find them funny? I can only think there far too many people who remain potty-brained little 9-year-old boys in outlook and intelligence, despite being grown adults. Why else would you think calling someone a "f*cking c**t", for no reason, is something to laugh at?

Back to the roasts, though... I can understand why the roastee had to be seen to laugh loudly – it was either that or be considered a bad sport. What I couldn’t understand was why everybody else was rocking with laughter at what was essentially just a stream of nasty words and disgusting comparisons. There was nothing at all intelligent or witty to laugh at. The funniest part of the evening was when Sharon Osbourne handed it out to the roasters at the end - and I must say she gave wayyyy better than she got! Good for her!

Thinking that perhaps it was a one-off, I waited for the roasting of Chris Tarrant. Again, plenty of nasty language and vulgar suggestions, but at least some of the roasters were funny some of the time (Jack Dee not being one of them). And yet again, in my opinion Tarrant was much better at insulting those who tried to insult him. I’m not particularly fond of the guy, but I have to admit I respected him a bit more at the end of the programme.

So now I was wondering if the Brits hadn’t quite got the idea of what a comedy roast was, it being an American invention. Last night I watched an American roast that Pete had recorded – the roastee was Captain James Tiberius Kirk of Star Trek fame, or in other words William Shatner. Ugh, if I thought the British stars had used bad language, they were as stately as the Pope compared to the Americans. To a man (and a woman), they were light years ahead in coming up with the most appallingly foul things to say. And not much of it funny. I liked Sandra Bullock’s gentle insinuations and fake sad-faced insults in a pretend-tribute to Shatner. She was genuinely funny, ironic and goodhumoured, and best of all she was not potty-mouthed. And for the third time in a row, the roastee did the best roasting of the programme – William Shatner was very clever and pretty damn funny.

Despite these disappointing experiences, I don’t know if I’ll refrain from watching other comedy roasts if they come my way... I mean, who knows - somebody might, possibly without intending it, actually turn out entertaining and witty. Is 40 minutes of absolute dross worth 5 minutes of purest comedy gold? I still think it is...


Anonymous said...

must download this...

and suggestion, can you have more than just 1 post on the front page? :)

Chandrika Shubham said...

Very true, some are serials are difficult to swallow and digest.

Ur profile photo: U looks very beautiful. :)

Inji said...

I'm an occasional visitor, popping over from time to time from your food blog(I'm a regular there)..

I have found that I don't particularly like roasts. Though the concept sounds good, usually they are ruined by people who think it is the license to say whatever they please. Also I completely agree about foul language being used as a substitute for humour.. just not my cup of tea. Although, I have to say that the only roast I ever enjoyed was Stephen Colbert going at Bush at the correspondent's dinner in 2006 I think.

Kamini said...

I have watched very few comedy roasts, and did not enjoy them at all. I found them to be too mean spirited, and yes, all that foul language (masquerading as humour) made me cringe.
Obviously there are many who do find this sort of thing funny, or they wouldn't be as immensely popular as they are!