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This is my old blog, which I no longer update. Feel free to browse around old posts and such, but the much more recent version of my ramblings are to be found at MarilynAnneCampbell.com

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Still Hungry for Grade A Shatner

All week I was salivating over the impending Canadian airing of Comedy Central's Roast of William Shatner. Last night I sat down ready to gorge myself on a prime cut of the cap'n, but something went terribly awry.

The appetizers were scrumptious. Jason Alexander was host and did a great job, getting things off to a lively, witty start. The clipshow of Shatner's career "highlights" was brilliant. And whoever decided to have Big Bill ride in on horseback is an abso-freakin-lute genius.

Then it was time for the main performers. Alexander introduced them as a "Who's that?" of comedy, and sadly he was dead on. Jeffrey Ross, Greg Giraldo, Patton Oswalt, Lisa Lampanelli... who are these people and what do they have to do with Shatner? At least Andy Dick I'd seen before, and he was the only one to bring a Trek costume, but that hardly makes up for it. True to those comics having nothing to do with Shatner, neither did the jokes. They spent 90% of the time insulting each other and making unimaginative gay jokes about George Takei. When they finally did notice that Shatner was there, the best they could muster were generic fat/old jokes plus a few easy jabs at his acting and his toupee.

Seriously, who picked these people? The other roasters were generally better, although they were often cut short or just shown as a quick clip. Maybe Kevin Pollock's Shatner impression is old hat, but it's good. At least they showed all of Betty White's attack on her Boston Legal co-star. That was good times. Trek's Nichelle Nichols and Takei himself did fine, while utterly out of it Farrah Fawcett should not have been allowed on the stage.

At least in the middle of all that there was a montage of Shatner music videos, which made sitting through all the crap worth it.

When it was finally Shatner's turn to speak he pointed out how lousy they'd all been, considering what he's given the world to work with. He then roasted himself better than anyone else had, and once again proved why Shatner is king, Captain, and Crane.

As I said to Steve when Jason Alexander still had the roast on track, the very existence of Shatner fills me with glee. Having seen this sorry attempt at a roast, I hope he'll take the time and the ultimate ego-trip and make a documentary about himself and his career. Because boy oh boy would I eat that up.


  1. To clarify, the comics you mentioned are kind of the package deal that you get with all roasts you see these days. They're all pretty big names in stand up (which is different than being a big name in TV or movies...the difference being that only those who pay close attention to live stand up know about them). They probably didn't have much to do with Shatner at all...but that is also pretty standard. Also, a big part of roasts (whether it's supposed to be or not) is that the comics rip on everyone in the room, and then turn to the man of the hour and rip on him last.

    I'm not disagreeing with your analysis, but I think you will find the same basic results from the next big roast they do. If you saw the Pamela Anderson roast, you saw all the same comics doing a lot of the same basic jokes. The Roast isn't my favorite comedy style, but I do enjoy watching the big-time comics crack each other up.

    Nate Smith

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Nate. I had a feeling this was how the other roasts must have gone as well, but I hadn't seen any to compare. The sad thing is now I don't think I'll bother watching anymore, even though I'd been planning on keeping an eye out for a rerun of the Denis Leary roast.

    I'm not up on my television stand-ups as I prefer to go out to the local clubs, but I have no doubt all the presenters I listed have a solid fan-base and such. I guess I just feel like there's so much potential in the roast format, so I was hoping for much, much more.

    A few years ago a friend of mine wanted to roast one of our other, wackier friends. Now I'm thinking we should seriously look into doing it, if only to satisfy my roast cravings.

    I don't suppose you or any of your comedy troupe have ever tried to host a roast, have you? Or participated in one? It seems like it's own little comedy sub-genre...

  3. If you want to see some really good roasting, watch the older roasts. There's a series of Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts out there on tape, and maybe on DVD now, that have some really good stuff on there. It seems like the jokes were more clever, but also even more mean. But they were so clever that it didn't matter that they were mean. People were laughing to hard to have their feelings hurt. These more recent roasts, while they do have some shining moments, tend to be a little more blunt. I think that is more result of our generation of comedy. "Clever" isn't as hip as it used to be.

    I have never done a roast or been apart of one. Although, I was asked to "roast" my sister at her wedding rehearsal dinner. I ran the jokes by her beforehand and she started crying. Everyone else I read them to laughed really hard and said they weren't mean at all. But my sister was in a really sensitive and vulnerable state considering she was just about to get married, so she didn't find it funny at all. Needless to say, we scrapped the roast idea.