As far as daises go, the group assembled to roast “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff was not the most star-studded, but all concerned brought the funny when it counted. With “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane serving as the master of ceremonies, the roasters hit Hasselhoff in the usual places – he’s a drunk, his shows were terrible, he’s a lousy singer – but the gifted comics still found a way to mine comedy gold from it anyway, particularly Lisa Lampanellli, who owned the show’s best line. (“Your liver was so black and bloated, it could have starred in ‘Precious.'”) MacFarlane is surprisingly dry as the MC – though he did drop in a little Stewie voice when discussing Pamela Anderson’s breasts – and that proves to be the right call. The biggest surprises are unquestionably the non-comedians. George Hamilton does it old-school but still manages to throw in a few good zingers, and Anderson has much better comic timing than you’d think. As for Hulk Hogan, well, he made for a better target than he did a roaster. Hamilton, in particular, pounded him.
Best of all, Hasselhoff shows the world that he really can sing, charging into the room singing “Hooked on a Feeling” and finishing with some power ballad that, strangely, has his voice drowned in the mix. When it does rise above the instruments, though, it sounds good. His recent reality show may have been canceled, but Comedy Central’s roast of Hasselhoff strikes the right balance of good-natured skewering. It also serves as one of the last performances by the late Greg Giraldo, who was just about to move up to the next level. Pity.
Click to buy “The Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff”
After dutifully earning his bones as one of the more reliable roasters at Comedy Central’s annual events (to Larry the Cable Guy: “Why are you so popular?”), Greg Giraldo finally gets his first one-hour special, and he makes it count. His take-no-prisoners approach is intact here, and in fact he saves a lot of his best bits for third rails like children (they’re fat, sickly and autistic). He does come a tad too close to a bit that popped up in Bill Burr’s act a year or so ago (the ‘I’m not a racist, but…’ routine), but he makes up for it by hammering a “sleepy Rasta” who nodded off in the third row, and by saluting a “gaggle of squawking twats” who refused to let 9/11 ruin their friend’s bachelorette party. The bonus features include the unaired pilot episode of “Adult Content,” a Comedy Central show about, well, porn. It’s a pretty decent show, though it makes sense that they would have had trouble following it up. With any luck, “Midlife Vices” will allow Giraldo to carve out a name for himself as something other than “that roast guy,” because the material here is most worthy.
Click to buy “Greg Giraldo: Midlife Vices”
This should have been explosive. Bob Saget, who made nine figures pimping some of the blandest television ever created, is in fact one of the filthiest comics on the planet. Comedy Central lines up nothing but comedians – and Cloris Leachman, who steals the show – to roast him, which means there are theoretically no dead spots in the lineup, right? Wrong. The comedians on the dais are the weakest batch that Comedy Central has ever assembled for a roast, to the point where Carrot Top’s bit during Flavor Flav’s roast looks better and better in retrospect. Jon Lovitz tanked, Brian Posehn just isn’t wired to roast, and Norm McDonald, arguably the funniest guy on the dais, deliberately tanked his routine, going old-school clean to counter Saget’s inherent foulness. Lastly, the grand roastmaster Lisa Lampanelli is not present, and she is sorely missed. John Stamos actually does a great job as host, and Saget’s rebuttal is second only to Leachman (to Brian Posehn: “Man, look at you. Did any lesbians survive the fire?”). Still, this had the potential to be much funnier than it is. Pity.
Click here to buy “Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget”
Lewis Black is a very funny guy, Patton Oswalt has been known to elicit a chortle or two, and Greg Giraldo…well, it really depends on who’s being roasted. Why then is “Root of All Evil” such an embarrassingly unfunny program? The concept of the series revolves around taking two subjects that may be considered social cancers and pitting them against one another in a mock courtroom setting. Black is judge, jury and prosecutor, while a revolving guest cast of two comedians per episode mount the cases for defense. (It goes without saying that anything even remotely resembling a legal reality is left at the door.) Of the eight episodes showcased here, titles include such mind-numbingly stupid topics as “Weed vs. Beer,” “Oprah vs. Catholic Church” and “Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney.” The half hour episodes are sleep-inducing affairs and you’ll be doing well if you mildly chuckle even once an installment. The defense attorneys occasionally present material from outside of the courtroom – these pre-taped bits that appear to at least have had some thought put into them are episode highlights (if one was searching for such bright spots), but the painful courtroom antics that dominate the screen amount to little more than bad improvisation. If this series were to return for a second season, it either needs to seriously rethink its game, or put the show itself on trial in an episode titled “Root of All Evil vs. The Moment of Truth.” Now that might be funny.
Click to buy “Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil”