Roasting Like the Pros

4 Apr

For the past 25 years, our local library has held an interesting fundraiser. Every year, they choose a prominent person in the community to roast. I have been a couple of times, and those events were pretty fun. The audiences laughed, and the guests of dishonor worried about what was going to be said next.

This year, a good friend of mine was put on the spit, and I was asked to be a roaster. Before it started, I was worried that no one would laugh. It would be terrible to bomb. These types of events are rough on the person getting skewered, but it is not easy on the jokesters, either.

As I worked on my routine, I thought about another series of roasts and the people who took part in them. It was not the past library roasts. It was also not those stupid roasts we see on television, like the one they did to Justin Bieber.

I thought about the granddaddy of a roasts, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. Through the 1970s and into the 1980s, Dino and other comedians roasted a bunch of his friends. I loved watching those shows. Heck, I will even watch that infomercial channel that tries to sell DVD’s of the show because the clips are hilarious.

As I put my words on paper, Dean and the gang came to my mind and, in my imagination, tried to figure out if I could be as funny as them.

There was Foster Brooks, who built a career out of acting drunk. That gave him a kinship with Dean Martin, who basically did the same thing. That act would probably not work in our politically correct world.Foster Brooks

There was Rich Little, who was the king of impersonators. A few people have built a career out of the same thing, but none can compare to him.Rich Little

There was Nipsey Russell, who rhymed his way to television fame. He was not only big on the roasting circuit. He was a game show mainstay.Nipsey Russell

There was Ruth Buzzi, who showed up as Gladys Ormphby and proceeded to hit everyone over the head with her purse.Ruth Buzzi

Heck, there were a ton of people on these shows, but those are the ones I remember the best. For our roast, I could have combined all of them. All I would have to do is show up dressed like a drunk old woman who could recite limericks in other people’s voices.

I did not do that. Instead, I told some old stories from high school and got plenty of laughs. I also had the satisfaction of knowing that all of my stories were true.

I also had the good fortune of going first. This meant that they had not yet started getting tired and looking at their phones. It also meant that they did not have a funnier person to compare me with.

Everyone had a great time, and a bunch of money was raised for the library. The best part? When my friend got the chance to fire back, he took it easy on all of us.

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7 Responses to “Roasting Like the Pros”

  1. jcalberta April 4, 2015 at 17:19 #

    Man! have times changed! And fast too. Most of those people are long gone now. And nobody can replace them.

    I plan to be roasting in Tucson in a week.

    • Rick April 4, 2015 at 17:23 #

      Tucson is the perfect place for it. Go over to Old Tucson Studios and take a drive to Tombstone.

  2. Marilyn Armstrong April 4, 2015 at 17:26 #

    Celebrity roasts are alive and well. And no more politically-correct then they were a long time ago. Popular mythology notwithstanding, I have yet to hear of a single comedian whose career was hurt by saying something politically incorrect. If you watch late-night cable comedy, politically correct is the one thing it isn’t. My problem with comedians isn’t that they aren’t politically correct. It’s that they aren’t funny.

    • Rick April 4, 2015 at 18:40 #

      There is a lot of political incorrectness out there. I am just not sure someone could get away with acting like a drunk.

      • Marilyn Armstrong April 4, 2015 at 18:56 #

        They could get away with it, but would anyone want to watch? Tastes have changed. We don’t find drunkeness so funny any more.

  3. Andrew Petcher April 4, 2015 at 17:35 #

    Apart from Dean Martin I have no idea who the others are!

    • Rick April 4, 2015 at 18:41 #

      They were big on US television in the 1970s.

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