There’s nothing quite like a celebrity roast to take your mind off the important things in life. One of America’s more twisted traditions is to honor our most celebrated stars by publicly shredding them to pieces in an assault-athon of the meanest and most shocking jokes at their expense—for fun! With past honorees including Bruce Willis, Joan Rivers, William Shatner, Bob Saget, Pamela Anderson, and Hugh Hefner, Comedy Central gathers Hollywood’s finest to throw the gloves off and hit way below the belt. Because making light of the faults and blunders of our favorite celebrities is borderline erotic.
Below we look back at some of the public figures who not only wore bulletproof vests during the annihilation but seemed to get a kick out of their time in the hot seat—many of whom even came out on top. Because it would seem that the public has a lot of respect for those who can talk the talk, and walk the walk. Behold, Hollywood’s most legendary burns and the celebs who’ve enjoyed getting roasted.
Justin Bieber volunteered as roast tribute
Pop star Justin Bieber certainly had a hot mess phase as Tinseltown’s resident troublemaker. What with egging neighbors’ homes, drag racing, and getting caught sneaking a pet monkey into Germany, the “Baby” singer knew he had it coming when he hit up Comedy Central and volunteered to be roasted. “Seems like only yesterday [Bieber] was discovered on YouTube. Time flies when you’re a piece of s***,” jabbed seasoned roast MVP Natasha Leggero.
But Bieber was the first to laugh it off. As he explained during a press conference (via Access Hollywood), “I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not proud of, but this is a new day and we’re turning a new leaf here.” Now, mad respect because at the ripe age of 20, that’s a helluva baller move to welcome and mentally manage shots fired at your failures. The now Grammy-winner laughed in sync with his friends on stage. “I mean everybody was going balls to the wall, Bieber said backstage (via Entertainment Tonight). “There was no holding back.”
And when it came time to offer up his response during the show, he said (via Esquire), “What do you get when you give a teenager $200 million? A bunch of has-beens calling you a lesbian for two hours.” Things then took a turn for the sincere, as he apologized for past transgressions and hoped to become “someone who you guys can all look at and be proud of.”
Martha Stewart was born for the roast battlefield
Now if you believe Martha Stewart is worried about what you think of her, you would be mistaken. The mogul made her Comedy Central Roast debut in 2015 at the skewering of Justin Bieber, and returned for a second round when it was Bruce Willis’s turn in the hot seat. At first, she didn’t realize signing on to be a roaster also meant agreeing to be roast-ed. Stewart told The Corp With A-Rod and Big Cat, “I had no idea that they would say such awful things about me on TV.”
Of course, shots were fired at Stewart’s criminal record. “I had the honor of playing Martha in two separate movies,” Cybill Shepherd said during the Bruce Willis roast (via Coed). “I did my best but the only one to truly capture Martha Stewart was the FBI.” Zoinks! And as Vulture noted in their recap of the same roast, Nikki Glaser pointed at Stewart’s less-than-congenial reputation: “My mom has learned everything from Martha Stewart, about cooking and cleaning and withholding affection.” Stewart didn’t flinch an inch. Shocking.
“I was able to laugh it off as I can and also say my lines with great conviction and everybody really thought I killed it,” Stewart said on The Corp With A-Rod and Big Cat. You better believe Stewart proved she’s not only a boss in the boardroom; she’s a boss on the battlefield.
Seth MacFarlane loves to roast and host
TV empire runner Seth MacFarlane is no stranger to the dais dungeon. MacFarlane has taken the heat and ripped many roasters to shreds as Roastmaster on three separate Comedy Central Roast events. The Ted creator told The Hollywood Reporter that he finds doing roasts “freeing,” because what could be more relaxing than getting lambasted on national television?
MacFarlane sat at the helm for the roasts of Donald Trump, David Hasselhoff, and Charlie Sheen, and each time, his fellow panelists lobbed some jokes his way. Like Mike Tyson, who zeroed in on the similarities between The Simpsons and MacFarlane’s Family Guy. “During a very dark period in my life, I found inspiration by reading the great epic poem The Iliad. So, see, Seth? You’re not the only person that’s gotten ideas from Homer,” the heavyweight champ quipped (via 89.3 KPCC).
But jabs like that one were to be expected, as MacFarlane told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, “Anyone who signs up for [a roast] knows what they’re in for.” MacFarlane made sure to shut down each roast with some good ol’ fashion head-stomping of his own, and we’d expect nothing less.
Rob Lowe didn't seem to mind getting roasted
Parks and Recreation actor Rob Lowe willingly took center stage as a human bullseye during his honorary Comedy Central bloodbath in 2016. When chatting with Access Hollywood about roasts, he said, “I love them!…Maybe there’s something wrong with me but the meaner they are, the more I like it, and the people who can take it are my heroes.” The former Brat Pack pretty boy strapped in for the barrage of insults surrounding his career pitfalls, legal woes, and his scandalous mattress mishaps.
“For years Rob had a sex addiction,” began David Spade, “but he cured it by getting less famous.” At another point in the show, SNL cast member Pete Davidson alluded to some legal issues Lowe got into with former employees: “People call Rob Lowe a bad actor, but that’s only because they never saw him tell his wife that he didn’t f*** that nanny.”
Lowe took it like a champ and came back strong with a few brutal digs of his own. “SNL has just released a compilation of David Spade’s funniest sketches, it’s called The Best of Chris Farley,” he fired at Spade. And when it came time to address dais member Jewel, Lowe said (via Daily News), “Jewel has performed for the Pope. In fact, it’s the reason the Pope always insists on being in a sound-proof glass box.” Talk about a shattering comment.
No roast is too much for Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen is can be described as a lot of things. Russian roulette in human form, yes, but a coward? Not even close. Case in point, in 2011 Sheen signed up to be a human piñata for Comedy Central Roast. He told Entertainment Tonight, “It’s not like you can take any of it personally. ‘They insulted me!’ Get over your cheap self. … It’s a celebration of who I am …as a media figure, an industry figure.” That’s the spirit!
Roastmaster General Jeff Ross had his ammunition ready to go: “If you’re winning, this must not be a child custody hearing…Charlie’s meltdown was so bad, Al Gore’s making a documentary about it.” Rat Race funnyman Jon Lovitz took some swings at Sheen, zinging, “How much blow can Charlie Sheen do? Enough to kill two and a half men.” Ouch. Ironically enough, Sheen’s roast aired exactly one hour after Charlie Harper replacement Walden Schmidt (played by Ashton Kutcher, of course) made his Two and a Half Men debut.
The Platoon star sat back and let the kiddies have their fun but reminded everyone at the end of the night that they can’t hurt someone who’s in on the joke. “Once again, I have come out unscathed,” he said. “You can’t hurt me. Hell, I can’t even hurt me…Did you really think your little jokes were going to hurt me? I’m the Wild Thing. Ricky f***ing Vaughn man.” Long live the rockstar from Mars!
Caitlyn Jenner took the gold at Alec Baldwin's roast
Caitlyn Jenner will run laps around her competition on the track and on the Comedy Central Roast stage. Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete took part in Alec Baldwin’s roast, where fellow public figures, like Nikki Glaser, did not go easy. “You were such an incredible athlete, people forget just how fast you once ran from your first family to go be on a reality show,” Glaser said, which got Jenner to laugh and give a thumbs up. Blake Griffin, NBA star and ex-boyfriend of her daughter Kendall Jenner, also threw daggers. “As an athlete I want to thank you for your bravery. And as a human, I want to thank you for the doors you’ve opened. And on behalf of the entire NBA and half the rappers on the Billboard charts, I want to thank you for giving your daughters their daddy issues.” The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star cracked up and applauded.
But during her time at the podium, the reality-TV star stated her view on seizing the roast as an opportunity to stand as a beacon of light for those who look up to her. “I want other members of the trans community to know that if I’m strong enough to sit up here and be ridiculed all night that you can handle anything.” Even keeled, earnest, and self-possessed. Talk about a champ.
Blake Griffin shoots, scores, and roasts
At the Alec Baldwin roast, NBA superstar Blake Griffin came to play! A longtime fan of comedy, Griffin was a natural on stage. “It’s something down the road, a second career when I’m done playing basketball,” Griffin told Bleacher Report. “My whole idea is to start now, to get in and meet a bunch of people, shadow people and learn the ins and outs, so when I’m done playing, I’m not starting fresh.” Comedy writer Neal Brennan even boasted about Griffin’s comedic chops, telling the outlet, “He has a sharper sense of humor then some comedians.”
The NBA star sat and endured strikes from the star of the evening himself. “You’re a remarkable man, Blake. I wish we were as close as your eyes are,” Baldwin lashed. “You demonstrated what you do best tonight, sitting while others score.”
Griffin didn’t sweat it. He had his chance to shoot and he scored. “Caroline [Rhea], if you’re here, that must’ve meant Salem the cat turned this down,” he joked to the Sabrina the Teenage Witch star. And as for the man of the hour? “Alec, I can tell you’re from New York, because just like the Knicks, you’ve somehow gotten worse every year since the ’90s.” Oof.
James Franco was relieved he wasn't the only one getting roasted
In 2013, Roastmaster Seth Rogen led Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, and Aziz Ansari to mock James Franco for his… James Franconess. But after the show, the 127 Hours actor told Entertainment Weekly he was happy to learn that he wouldn’t be the only one getting zinged. “I’ve never watched one of these roasts. I chose not to research this so I had no idea that they were going to be roasting each other [too],” Franco said. “I thought I’d be sitting here for two hours bearing the brunt of it, so it was a huge relief. I had a great time. Everybody was awesome, solid.”
Franco braved through the merry-go-round of insults. “Look at me doing all the talking while you sit there doing nothing. I feel like I’m co-hosting the Oscars with you,” Rogen joked, alluding to the mess that was the Academy Awards hosted by Franco and Anne Hathaway. “You look like you’re asleep. Did you just read a James Franco book?”
In traditional egocentric Franco form, the Spring Breakers actor wrapped up his rebuttal with the declaration that the event was his biggest art installation yet. “The joke’s on all of you,” he stated. “What you’ve seen tonight was my brilliant opus to sequester an artistic visionary and subject him to the mindless incoherent trashings of talentless abnormalities.” Huh? “I call it ‘Genius Unscathed,’ and this is my masterpiece.” Well, okay then!
Alec Baldwin kept it cool at his roast
Alec Baldwin has had more than a few precious temper tantrums during his time in the spotlight, but that does not mean he does not know how to laugh at himself. When it came time to be a Comedy Central Roast guest of honor, the 17-time SNL host was prepared for the lashing. “Everything was cool,” he said on The Howard Stern Show. “I knew they were going to take the Empire State Building and shove it up my a** one brick at a time.”
As predicted, the dais didn’t hold back. For starters, there was Nikki Glaser, who said, “What an honor to be here roasting Justin Bieber’s wife’s oldest fattest uncle.” Glaser also mentioned his wife, Hilaria Baldwin. “She’s so hot and fit,” the comic began. “Does getting screamed at burn calories?”
Ireland Baldwin also took some verbal swings at her dad. “I almost didn’t even know about [the roast] because I haven’t checked my voicemails from my dad for the last, like, 12 years,” she joked (via Vulture). Another choice quip: “A lot of people only know my dad as an angry guy, but he’s more than some lunatic who loses his temper. He also loses Emmys. And Oscars. And custody of his firstborn child.” Absolutely charred.
Snoop Dogg welcomes potshots at Comedy Central roasts
Speaking of smoke, Snoop Dogg stayed alert enough to properly flame Flavor Flav, Donald Trump, and Justin Bieber, along with taking heat from his fellow dais members. The “Gin And Juice” rapper told Revolt TV that he would’ve been a comedian if he wasn’t in the music industry. “That’s what these events are about you know,” he said. “Celebrating, cracking jokes, and enjoying the lighter side of the success of the person that’s being roasted, you know. I’m one that loves to joke around and take jokes, give jokes, so it’s a fun event for me.”
During his three separate Comedy Central Roast appearances, Snoop Dogg sat back and caught zingers from TV veterans like Larry King as well as relative newcomers like Pete Davidson. “Wow, Ludacris and Snoop Dogg are here,” the SNL star said at Bieber’s roast (via Los Angeles Times). “If I was 38, I’d be freaking out right now.” At the same roast, Hannibal Buress compared Snoop to “a rejected Mortal Kombat boss,” which may actually be a hilarious compliment?
Whether Snoop Dogg is giving the hits or taking them, he stays as calm, cool, and collected as ever. As he admitted during Justin Bieber’s roast, “I’ve been smokin’ and drinkin’ and I feel real good about myself!” We’d have him no other way.
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