Channel 4 began its comedy roasts last night, with TV veteran Bruce Forsyth being the butt of the jokes, and British comedy’s finest directing their cruellest insults at him in a bid to honour the age-old American tradition. Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Jack Dee, Jason Manford and Jon Culshaw were amongst the guests.
The roast is a bizarre American tradition. I can’t help but think it’s all a bit pointless. It’s a sort of ‘This is Your Life’ with a big dollop of sarcasm. But what is the POINT? It seems like a futile exercise. And after last night, my opinion hasn’t changed. Yes, it’s nice to take celebrities off their pedestal occasionally by ribbing them to death, but 60 minutes of fellow celebrity fans coming on stage, throwing out a few insults, then sitting back down again just seems like a waste of time. And we’re not really even taking them off their pedestal, because essentially the occasion is paying homage to the victim. It’s such an oxymoron – I don’t get it!
For those that get to do the roasting, it’s basically a chance to show off their comedy writing skills. A sort of MC battle for comedians. Some were more successful than others. Jon Culshaw managed to think outside the box by listing Brucie’s catchphrases in the style of a Grand National commentary. Jason Manford invited us to Play Your Cards Right, with the numbers all relating to facts about Brucie’s life. And throughout, every time a particularly cutting remark was made, the camera would cut to Bruce himself to see his reaction, which was pretty much the same every time – forced laughter. I secretly hoped one person would overstep the mark, just so we get to see a different reaction. But no, Brucie knew exactly what he was in for: “I came here to get a roasting, and a roasting is what I’m going to get.” And he proved his tongue was as sharp as his guests by quipping back at Jack Dee: “That was funny. I knew you’d make me laugh eventually.”
The roasting is set to get even weirder tonight when Sharon Osbourne takes centre stage. At least with Brucie it was a comedy entertainer, who was amongst comedy friends. I’m not sure what to expect from Sharon and her friends. One thing’s for sure, she’s not one to mince her words, so I wouldn’t expect anything less from her guests!