Recent news events were in the spotlight at “The Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne,” and in some cases it may have been too soon. NBC News reports that a couple of bits involving roast regular Jeffrey Ross raised a few eyebrows.
Ross reportedly admitted he “crossed a line” with a joke about the recent mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., during the taping Saturday.
“Taking pot shots at members on the dais — which included stars Katy Sagal, Ellen Barkin and Carrie Fisher — Ross suggested that red-haired actor Seth Green looked a lot like the alleged gunman,” the story reports.
“Seth, congratulations,” said Ross. “This is actually a great night for you. You haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora. … I’m kidding. You are not like James Holmes. At least he did something in a movie theater that people remember!”
“There was an audible gasp, followed by awkward applause inside the Hollywood Palladium, where more than 600 invited guests were gathered,” the report says. “After the show, Ross defended his routine, telling NBC News: ‘Yes, I crossed a line, and that is what the roasts are about. That’s what Roseanne is about — unapologetic comedy. If I had held back, I would have done her a disservice.’”
The roast is set to be aired Aug. 12 on Comedy Central, and producer Jonas Larsen said the Aurora material will not be included in the telecast. Ross reportedly said he doesn’t care whether the Aurora bit airs, but he defended the material.
“I think that this particular roast — in these particular times we are in — it is important to exercise freedom of speech,” Ross said. “Comedians are apologizing a lot. I am not saying that is right or wrong. But it scares me when I start second-guessing myself. So I wanted to put it out there and remind people what America is about — and on some level, what the roasts are about.”
Ross appeared at the event dressed as longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, the report notes, invoking another touchy subject — the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
Ross, whose new Comedy Central show “The Burn” is set to premiere Aug. 14, noted: “I feel like bad taste is not a crime. There should be a place in this country for comedians to say whatever comes to their heads.”