Comedy Central's "Roasters" have never been shy about pushing the envelope. From racism, to homophobia, to jokes about national tragedies, to Jimmy Kimmel saying to Flavor Flav "Chris Benoit is a better father than you", nothing has ever really been off limits at these things.
This past Saturday night saw the taping of the twelfth Comedy Central Roast, with the "guest of honor" being Roseanne Barr. While the overall reaction has been that the show was surprisingly tame, long-time participant Jeffrey Ross went out of his way to get attention, by touching on some very sensitive subjects.
Ross began the night on the red carpet, dressed as late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, and flanked by two teenage-looking boys that were dressed only in towels and football helmets. The "boys" didn't appear during the actual taping, but Ross did take the stage in his Paterno outfit. Once at the podium, Ross wasted no time in dividing the audience, when he directed the following joke at (famously red-headed) fellow roaster Seth Green - "Congratulations, this is actually a really big night for you. You haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora."
That one got some boos, but Ross wasn't finished. "I’m kidding! You’re not like James Holmes. At least he’s doing something in a movie theater that people remember." Ross' choice to cross the line twice drew a stunned reaction from most of the crowd, mixed with boos and a small smattering of cheers.
Roseanne herself was asked about Ross' material after the show, and responded with the following - "That crossed the line. But comedy is about moving the line… And where is the line in a country that has freedom of speech? Maybe there isn’t one."
Barr was also asked about the recent trend of comedians publicly apologizing after delivering off-color jokes - "You do take a risk to say anything these days. Yeah, there are people that are just short of stalkers, waiting for you to f— up so they can do their self-righteous thing. Comics are the bravest of the brave. A lot of comics who do cross-the-line stuff — there’s a lot to be scared about… We’re certainly not gonna f—ing shut up. We’re not gonna go that way." The Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr premieres Sunday, August 12th at 10pm EST.
While I certainly have my own feelings on this matter, I'll instead turn the floor over to you the readers. Did Jeffrey Ross go too far, or should there not be such a thing as going too far when it comes to comedy?