I’m a huge Star Trek fan and a fan of Bill Shatner in particular. I think it’s really impressive what he’s done to re-inject life back into his career, winning Emmy awards for his performance in Boston Legal. Plus I love his self-effacing sense of humor. So when I heard there was going to be a “roast” in his honor, I eagerly looked forward to it.
Man oh man was I disappointed. Actually disgusted would be a better word to describe this travesty of a show.
It started out quite funny, with a phone conversation between Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who tried to talk Bill out of appearing on the show because “they roast pigs“. The exchange was lively and fun, and as it turned out Nimoy was right (unintentionally) and Shatner’s description of the show as bringing together comics that no one has ever heard of and “ex-hotties” was woefully accurate…
The show was, in a word: vile.
Among the “roasters” were Nichelle Nichols, Betty White (???), Farrah Fawcett and George Takei. It was hosted by Jason Alexander. There were also a number of comedians including Fred Willard, Kevin Pollock (who does the best Captain Kirk impression on the planet), and Andy Dick (who I loathe). Beyond that there were a bunch of no-names and it was a mystery to me why they were there, except that maybe Comedy Central wants to boost their careers.
The short version is that I felt like I was sitting through some sort of sex education/anatomy class at it’s most vulgar. I’d have to say 8 out of 10 jokes had something to do with genitalia or sex (mostly homosexual) and there was plenty of dialogue that had to be bleeped out. Much of the humor was based on George Takei’s recent “outing” of himself as gay, and it was done in excruciating sexual detail.
I’d also say that 90% of the “roasting” was directed at the co-roasters with a minor 10% directed at the guest of honor, Bill Shatner. It almost seemed like an afterthought. I didn’t tune in to see a bunch of unknown comics insulting each other with private jokes!
Also depressing was seeing the likes of Nichelle Nicholes and the venerable Betty White stooping to gross sexual humor in this venue. I was taken aback that they would stoop to that level to be what, considered “cool”?
To be honest I couldn’t even finish watching it.
When I tuned in I had images in my head of roasts from way back when with the likes of Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Foster Brooks, etc. poking fun at some celebrity friend. Back then it was funny and had an edge to it, but they did it with some sense of class. Believe it or not, it is possible to roast someone and be funny without resorting to describing a prostate massage or other things I won’t repeat here.
As far as I’m concerned the humor reminded me of what you might overhear around a bunch of 14 year old boys. It’s much more difficult but funnier when you get a laugh without resorting to vulgarity, in my opinion. I mean some of it made the audience (and myself) cringe more than laugh. Much of it was obviously done more for shock value than actual laughs.
What I found especially interesting was that the LEAST amount of time was given to the guests who were the least vulgar. If you blinked you would have missed Kevin Pollock’s very funny bit that was inserted almost as filler.
Sad and pathetic is what it was, and I wish that Shatner had taken Nimoy’s fictional advice.