Jeffrey Ross is ready to 'experiment' on Detroiters
Loving the burn - Grilling the Roastmaster general on a comic tradition revived
Published: January 11, 2012
MT: That's pretty accurate.
Ross: Yeah. In Jersey everyone thinks they're a comedian. Everyone can take a joke or deliver a joke. It's a rough place to grow up sometimes, and I think Detroit probably shares that. I get a lot of mail from fans asking me to come to Detroit, so I'm pretty pumped about coming. I'm going to experiment with "speed roasting" some audience members
MT: When you become known as the roastmaster, now, I'm sure everywhere you go people expect you to make fun of them. That has to be a bit of a pain right?
Ross: It's only a pain if it happens on an airplane or at a funeral. If it happens at my shows, it's exciting; because people consider it an honor to be dishonored publicly for some reason. So it will be volunteers only.
MT: The worst gigs are like where you get hired to insult someone at a birthday party, but you've turned it into an empire.
Ross: [giggles] Yeah, man, you have to pick a lane. Dave Chapelle taught me a long time ago: "Pick a lane." This is it.
MT: You got to roast the caped crusader on the show Batman: Brave and the Bold. How cool was that?
Ross: That was intense, man. I was so intimidated. Batman is a larger-than-life figure. He's much taller in person than he is on the cartoon.
MT: Who is your dream target that you haven't gotten to roast yet?
Ross: Wow. Um, it seems like Herman Cain right now would be the best roast possible.
MT: Would he get the jokes?
Ross: No. Just stopping the show to explain the jokes to him would be the best part. Just all the accusers and girlfriends, think of how many roasters we would have.
MT: What would it take to get Rickles to do one of these roasts?
Ross: You know we beg him every year, but he's untouchable, he's just the king. If we ever got to do that roast it would be a happy day for me, a proud day.
MT: I think all the comics would be terrified he would just show them up.
Ross: Yeah, he would go on at the end and rip everyone, just school everyone, that's for sure. He's not just old-school, he's pre-school. He's a legend. He belongs on "Mt. Roastmore."
MT: Are you surprised when sometimes people, even some professional comics, still get offended at these things?
Ross: In the end it's all serious business and we wear our theoretical bulletproof vests so that the punch lines don't hurt. Sometimes new audiences don't know the rules; which is that there are no rules. Look, you can't be offended; it's a "roast." Slowly people are learning roasting philosophy: that you can't be hurt by words. Hopefully that will apply soon to life in general.
MT: You're going to make a better world one joke at time Jeff.
Ross: Roasting saves lives my friend.
At 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030; $28 advance.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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