“Welcome to menopause-apalooza,” said Jane Lynch, opening up the show. The star of "Glee," who is rapidly becoming the female equivalent of Neil Patrick Harris when it comes to classy/comedic hosting and in this case roasting, was likely referring to Carrie Fisher, Ellen Barkin, Katey Sagal and the woman at the center of the evening, Ms. Roseanne Barr. And then, without much segue but with raucous audience approval, Lynch said, “Fuck Chick-fil-A.”
With a tagline of “Bring it, bitches,” Comedy Central delivered more than that on its “Roast of Roseanne,” which taped last weekend at the Hollywood Palladium and airs this Sunday night on the cable network.
The latest installment of these occasional specials -- which have become anticipated events and somewhat of a cottage industry -- is being relentlessly promoted across the network as “the mother of all roasts.” After Charlie Sheen and Pamela Anderson got toasted recently, it may just live up to that.
With a different cast of characters than usual up on the dais -- in addition to roast favorites such as Gilbert Gottfried and Jeffrey Ross, both of whom were incredibly and hysterically politically incorrect -- the evening became an opportunity to make amends, both personally and professionally.
Let's go back about 20-some-odd years, when Roseanne was in her heyday as the star of her smash-hit sitcom. Her drug-fueled romance with Tom Arnold was the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson tabloid fodder of the day. Fairly predictably, their marriage imploded in a very ugly manner that left both much worse for the experience.
Apparently Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, both of whom have long since moved on to new love interests, have not been in the same room for 18 years.
That's why it was absolutely shocking -- and we’re not spoiling anything here because this big reveal is key to how the network is hyping the show -- when in the middle of things, Arnold showed up and took the podium.
The audience was absolutely riveted. One person who had chosen to take that moment to step out of the ballroom was frozen in his tracks when Arnold was introduced. "I was like a deer caught in the headlights," he said.
Arnold started his spiel. "Rosie had 27 personalities, and only two of them liked me. One was a small German boy," he recalled. He reflected on their glory days -- what he called a white-trash Camelot -- when he got a tattoo of her on his chest and she had “Property of Tom Arnold” tattooed on her.
With his tattoo, Arnold said, after their split it was hard to get women to have sex with him.
After weaving his way down this kind of path, and how difficult it was to have Roseanne for an ex-wife, his set ended on a heartfelt, poignant note -- and we won't spoil that one for you.
But as she later put it in response to his appearance, "If I can bury my roiling, boiling hatred for him, then maybe there's a chance for world peace.”
And then, fixing the past, part two. As if anyone could ever forget that screeching, horrific, disrespectful and endlessly controversial rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner" before a Major League Baseball game, Roseanne launched into the 2012 version of the National Anthem to cap off her roast.
The Hollywood Palladium had become the home of the brave.
("The Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne" airs on Comedy Central Sunday, Aug. 12, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.)