The only truly shocking thing that could have happened at Comedy Central’s Roast of Roseanne is if no one came away deeply offended.
This, after all, is the woman who enraged an entire baseball stadium (and afterward, much of the country) two decades ago with her brutal performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, and she most recently provoked outrage by wishing cancer on people who eat at Chik-fil-A, the company that has faced a boycott over the anti-gay views of its owners.
Needless to say, Roseanne Barr has never played nice, so neither did her roasters.
Fair warning: Prepare to mainline a little bile.
Barr got a lot of fat jokes. Ellen Barkin and Carrie Fisher, who joined in the mockery-making, got a lot of menopause and drug jokes, respectively. Seth Green is short, and Wayne Brady is black (but not really, according to most of the comedians who took the mic.)
Such was the fodder for ridicule, though some jokes were more cruel than others. Some of the worst, such as Jeff Ross’s gag about the Aurora theater shootings, didn’t make the final cut during Sunday’s broadcast.
Let’s just go topic by topic so those looking to protest can skip around to whatever offends them most.
Roastmaster of Ceremonies Jane Lynch kicked things off by predicting the line of gags that would be aimed at Brady. “Now, Wayne, you’re going to hear a lot of jokes tonight about how you’re not a real black man, but I just want you to know — I still hid my purse.”
“Wayne Brady, how are you?” asked Fisher later. “You’re so white, I tried to snort you back stage.”
“Wait, is that Wayne Brady or did Al Jolson forget to take off his make-up?” said comedian Jeff Ross (later mocked by Brady for using the oh-so-timely Jolson reference.)
THE FAMILIES OF POLITICIANS:
Katey Sagal, the former Married with Children star, took a political potshot while recalling the similar roles that made both her and Barr famous: “I feel honored that you and I broke new ground as TV moms who didn’t cook, didn’t clean, and didn’t make any money. In the ’80s, that made you a bad mom … but today it makes you Mitt Romney’s wife.”
After enduring countless you’re-not-really-black jokes, Wayne Brady’s turn at the mic led to a jab at Jeff Ross that also hit a politician’s disabled child. “Jeff, these are all jokes, and I really like you. I really, really like you, but a lot of people hate you, especially Sarah Palin … because you remind her of what Trigg’s going to look like when he’s 40.” (If it makes you feel any better, the crowd booed that one.)
Lynch on Fisher: “Now, Carrie is here to put Roseanne’s weight and drug problems into perspective.”
Lynch on Barr’s twitchy ex, Tom Arnold: “Roseanne, it’s not your fault you were attracted to Tom. You thought with all that white powder on his upper lip, there must be a doughnut somewhere.”
Green on Fisher: “Carrie used to be paid a lot to take work as a screenwriter and now the only ‘scripts she takes are from her friends’ medicine cabinets.”
Comedian Amy Schumer mocked Roseanne’s looks while also taking down one of the child stars from her ground-breaking sitcom: “You know you’re unattractive when Sara Gilbert is the eye-candy on set.”
Ross puzzled Barr with a Jabba the Hutt gag that sailed right over her head. “Carrie Fisher make yourself comfortable,” he said. “Chain yourself to Roseanne’s chair.” This led Barr to say, “What does that mean? I don’t even get that.”
After an awkward pause, Ross said: “It’s a f–king Star Wars joke.”
“Oh,” Roseanne replied flatly.
Ross later pulled a green apple out of his pocket. “You know what, normally when I roast a pig it has an apple in its mouth.” He handed it to Barr, who chucked it back at him.
Tom Arnold, who had a notoriously combative four-year marriage to Barr before their 1994 divorce, told the crowd that his moment on stage was the first time they’d been in the same room in 18 years. Naturally, he zinged her with a fat joke. “You know Rosie, this is true, she actually had ‘Property of Tom Arnold’ tattooed on her hip — which made me the fourth largest property owner in California.”
“I can’t believe Ellen Barkin is here tonight,” Green said of the 58-year-old actress. “I got so excited when she looked at me backstage with that sexy crooked smile. But I actually wasn’t sure if she was saying ‘I’m into you’ or ‘Help, I’m having a stroke.'”
Brady on Fisher: “Carrie, you are the only celebrity whose action figure is worth more than you are.”
Yes, even one of the worst tragedies in American history came up, courtesy of comedian Anthony Jeselnik.
“Ellen Barkin, baby doll. Your upcoming TV show The New Normal premieres on Sept. 11,” he said. “Yeah … Sept 11 — that sounds about right. Every clip I’ve seen feels like I’m watching a third tower collapse.”
Ross attended dressed as Joe Paterno with a blue Penn State jacket and hat, and was also one of the few who mocked Barr’s long-ago revelation that she had been sexually abused as a child.
“Comedy comes from pain, people, and nobody knows that better than this woman, the legendary Roseanne Barr — who was molested as a child,” he said. “Ugh, that poor molester. Roseanne never got over it. She felt violated. She had trust issues. She never got the candy he promised her …”
Ross to Lynch: “I love Glee. Jane it’s my favorite show, it really is. Except for the one time they let you sing. … I haven’t heard sounds that disturbing since I hung out in Sandusky’s basement.”
When the crowd groaned, Ross said, “What? Too soon for the Glee jokes? Folks, if you’re offended by what you see tonight, just do what Joe Paterno did — look the other way.”
Tom Arnold reassured people offended by Barr’s recent tweet. “Recently, Roseanne got in trouble for accidentally wishing cancer on Chik-Fil-A customers. But you guys can all relax, If she had the power to wish cancer on anyone, I would have been f–king dead in ’94.”
FINALLY, SOME WARMTH:
If all that left a bad taste in your mouth, it was Arnold — Roseanne’s mortal enemy — who actually brought some kindness to the proceedings.
“In 1985, Roseanne went on Johnny Carson, which is every comic’s dream back then. She killed. He laughed his ass off, he gave her thumbs up, and he invited her to sit on the couch. She got validation from the king that could never be taken away,” he said. “And I just wanted to say that Roseanne — you were my Johnny Carson. Thank you for the thumbs up and thank you for allowing me to sit on your couch for a little bit.”
After absorbing withering torment throughout the show, Barr did her best to dish it back, though she managed to end on a high note — literally.
Seeking redemption for her nightmarish rendition of the national anthem, she actually belted out the final lines of The Star-Spangled Banner in not-so-terrible fashion.
“This night has been one of the greatest nights of my life,” she said. ” And that’s not saying s–t for my life.”