Comedy Central // 2008 // 74 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // December 23rd, 2008
The most family unfriendly night of Bob Saget's career!
There's something funny in the room at this roast of Bob Saget. Of course, that's only natural. This is a roast we're talking about. Only I'm not talking about the usual kind of ha-ha funny. I'm talking about a sort of awkward level of discomfort that very nearly prevents this DVD from being classified as a comedy. The purpose of a roast is traditionally to poke a little good-natured fun at a much-mocked public figure. If you've never seen a roast, here's how it typically works. A noteworthy celebrity (typically a comedian) comes up on stage and tells a bunch of ferociously mean jokes about the roastee and their fellow roasters. At the end, the celebrity turns serious and declares their undying love for the roastee. It's all in good fun, right?
Yeah, that's the idea. Oddly, this roast doesn't quite feel that way. Roasting Bob Saget isn't like roasting William Shatner, Flavor Flav, or Pamela Anderson. People actually like William Shatner, Flavor Flav, and Pamela Anderson. On the other hand, nobody likes Bob Saget. This isn't a roast of Bob Saget. This is revenge. The jokes seem uglier than usual, and the moments of apologetic sweetness frequently come across as completely insincere. I know some people will insist this is all in good fun, but I've seen pretty much all of the Comedy Central roasts, and this one has a decidedly different tone. These people want to rip Mr. Saget up into little bitty pieces and feed him to the lions.
If you're not familiar with Bob Saget, you've been spared a lot of painfully bad television. For eight very long seasons, he starred in the tiresome sitcom Full House and also won fame as the host of the equally cheesy America's Funniest Home Videos. Saget then proceeded to exploit his fame on the comedy circuit, winning gasps from audience members who were shocked that the guy from Full House could be so foul-mouthed. Saget's most recent "achievement" was directing the unfunny animated spoof Farce of the Penguins, which was essentially an R-rated version of the sort of lame voiceovers he used to do on America's Funniest Home Videos. On the one hand, he seems like an ideal candidate for a roast. On the other hand, Lewis Black makes a good point: "Why are we roasting Bob Saget? Hasn't Bob Saget's entire career essentially been a roast of Bob Saget?"
Perhaps so, but that's not going to stop the show from going on. Most of the roasters this time around will be quite familiar to those who watch Comedy Central, which unfortunately does make the event feel a little bit smaller and less prestigious than it probably ought to. The master of ceremonies is John Stamos, who was Saget's co-star on Full House. Stamos gets a little bit of shock value out of telling dirty jokes about Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (something Saget has spent way too much time doing over the course of the last decade, and something that is done way too much during this roast), but he's a rather mediocre host. After his opening bit, we hear from Greg Giraldo (Lewis Black's Root of All Evil), who seems to be having far more fun when talking about his fellow roasters than he does talking about Saget. Regular roaster Jeffrey Ross does his usual thing, and the usually funny Jeff Garlin attempts to do an awkward impersonation of Full House producer Sol Schwartz. Garlin's Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Susie Essman is also much less successful than usual. Jon Lovitz does nothing more than offer up a series of tiresome gay jokes, which was disappointing. Brian Poehsen (The Sarah Silverman Program) starts out pretty well, but his routine dies quickly. Much of the material here is far too reliant on easy jokes, particularly when the roasters are ribbing each other: Jeff Garlin is fat, Cloris Leachman is old, Jeffrey Ross is ugly? hardy-har-har. As I said earlier, when the comics are focusing on Saget, the material frequently veers from amusing into simply being uncomfortable. Worst of all is Saget himself at the conclusion, who proves to be every bit as bad a comedian as the roasters accuse him of being.
Fortunately, this roast isn't a complete laugh-free zone. The three "special video appearances" from Lewis Black, Sarah Silverman, and Don Rickles are all fun. The incomparable Cloris Leachman somehow manages to bring a certain dignity to a string of surprisingly dirty jokes: "I'm not here to roast Bob Saget. I'm here to f -- -- John Stamos." The very best routine comes from former Saturday Night Live star Norm McDonald, who genuinely had me in stitches. McDonald delightfully mocks the dated roast format, very obviously reading cue cards and tossing off jokes that would have been too old for Milton Berle: "Bob Saget has a face like a flower...a cauli-flower." The routine almost completely bombs with the audience, but the roasters and a select few in the audience are in stitches. Oh, it's such a delight. The only problem is that McDonald's routine is so spot-on that it just about ruins the whole thing for everyone else.
Video quality is unimpressive, as we get a bit of color bleeding and very poor detail. Still, this is just a talking heads piece. The audio gets the job done without going the extra mile. In terms of supplements, we get a 1 whole minute of behind-the-scenes footage, a 2-minute interview with Saget, 5 minutes of post-roast footage, and 11 minutes of interviews from before the show. There are a few laughs scattered throughout this disc, but overall it's not really worth the time. Try to catch the Leachman and McDonald segments if they're showing the special on Comedy Central.
Review content copyright © 2008 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 74 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Footage