Comedy Central aired the Roast of Joan Rivers on Sunday, so NPI Roast connoiseurs John S and newcomer F.P. Santangelo (not related to the former Montreal Expo) sat down to discuss it:
John S: The Joan Rivers Roast wasn’t the best roast Comedy Central has ever done, or the worst; at this point the franchise has become so entrenched that consistent viewers know who and what to expect. The target at this point is incidental to the mere act of roasting. I’m not really a Joan Rivers fan, and I certainly wasn’t tuning in to see Kathy Griffin, but I think these Roasts are an underrated comic venue. The knock against them is that they seem to be exercises in repetition: Each comedian takes his or her turn making the same jokes. For this particular roast, the jokes seemed to oscillate between “Joan Rivers is really old” and “Joan Rivers has had a lot of plastic surgery.” What’s great about a Roast, however, is that it allows each comic on the dais to showcase a personal flair and interpretation of the same basic jokes. Sure, some of these comedians turn in jokes that are stale and boring and probably written by some intern, but plenty of comics have turned the Roast into a personal showcase. Gilbert Gottfried and Jeff Ross have each created a distinct voice in Roasts, and both were in traditional form at the Joan Rivers Roast. By far the funniest man on the dais, however, continues to be Greg Giraldo, who always seems to find the perfect balance of edgy, clever, and original humor. Giraldo is the Michael Jordan of Comedy Central Roasts, and he turned in another stellar performance on Sunday. Do you think Giraldo lived up to his own high standards?
F.P. Santangelo: Sure, Greg Giraldo was great. Of course, you’d probably forgive a guy that talented if he didn’t bring his best material to a Roast of someone like Joan Rivers, but I thought he turned in a solid set. Hopefully he’ll catch a little more publicity after his upcoming special (“Midlife Vices,” Sunday, August 16 at 10 pm on Comedy Central). I agree that he represents the gold standard for roasting, but what also distinguishes him is his versatility as a comedian. I’ve never seen Jeff Ross or Gilbert Gottfried excel in any other venue (Aladdin doesn’t count), but Giraldo is a great stand-up comic. I guess it’s just interesting that to be branded as a lethal roaster might have been the best thing to happen to Jeff Ross, and only a bittersweet success for Greg Giraldo. Of course, what’s frustrating is that many members of the dais aren’t even comedians, so the supposed opportunity to “showcase a personal flair” is often replaced by mediocre material delivered by terribly unskilled celebrities like Maureen McCormick, Donald Trump, and of course the completely inept Farrah Fawcett. If laughter really is the best medicine, that’s probably why she died. Continue reading »