After years of touring the country, roasting celebrities, and bringing comedy to war torn parts of the world, Jeffrey Ross has finally come back home for the much anticipated one-hour Comedy Central special, No Offense: Live from New Jersey, premiering Friday, Aug. 22– not to mention the much buzzed-about Roast of Bob Saget on Aug. 17.
Setting down the golden microphone – and verbal assault weapons – the man who the New York Times has called, “the meanest man in comedy,” had a quick chat with Punchline Magazine.
A one-hour Comedy Central special. It’s about time.
I know, its pretty crazy. People think it’s like my fifth one – but its my first.
I love the title, ‘No Offense.’ It’s just like a blanket disclaimer for everybody watching.
But not an apology. It all comes out of love and anxiety. There’s nothing mean spirited. You’ll be able to tell by the audience’s reactions that its all good.
With the current political atmosphere, it seems like a lot of comics have a clear agenda. Is there any kind of recurring theme or message in your special?
That’s interesting. I would have to say that the message is, ‘I only roast the ones I love.’ And if people are gonna come – I have family and friends and relatives – I basically make fun of all of them during the special. Even my barber gets a couple shots.
The taping of the special also meant it was your first time back to our hometown in quite some time. Did that make it more nerve wracking or did it kind of take some of the edge off?
Well you know it was one of those things where – and I actually say this in the special – I’ve performed everywhere in the world but I would never headline my home state because I never felt ready. And uh, I’m ready now mother fuckers. I come out full swinging. It’s a full assault. Its pretty out there. Plus, I have a gold microphone.
Seriously? I read that in the press release and I thought it was like a metaphor.
Comedy specials always look kind of boring to me so I thought I’d just try to pimp it out a little.
It does sometimes feel like they’re one hour comedy special format is becoming a bit cookie cutter.
Well, I don’t want to say that they look ‘cookie cutter’ but the trick for me was how to make it cut through the clutter. To me, one of the beauties of it was making it look like some of my favorite specials. Like Richard Prior and Eddy Murphy; they would always be dark and smoky. Everything you see on TV now is very bright; and some of these comedy specials look like game shows. I want it to look bad ass.
Probably has something to do with so many programs being made with HD in mind.
Well, we shot it in HD because we want people to be high and deaf when they watch it.
Now that you’re largely known for roasting – I mean, you’re Roastmaster General after all –how did you decide on a strategy for incorporating roast-style jokes in the special?
I don’t think it’s a decision. I think it’s a development. I’ve been doing stan-up longer then I’ve been doing roasting like you pointed out, so when does one become the other? I’ve kind of always just played around with the audience, so when you see the special, you’ll see that somewhere between the first five and 10 minutes is me doing my version of saying ‘hello.’
Which, for me, is making fun of everyone in the front row. Embarrassing the fat guy. Embarrassing the guy with flip-flops. So I sort of bring that roast energy in the beginning of the show. I don’t think roast fans will be disappointed. I think they’ll get a big kick out of seeing me make fun of regular people.
If there’s anyone who deserves to get made fun of, It’s your average working guy.
It’s the average working guy who usually has the big bucks. People want to get roasted by me. My fans consider it a compliment.
Were there any highlights or any particular thing that happened that stood out to you in the special?
There’s one thing that happens – and you’ll know this from my Lounge Lizards show – at the end of my show I do love poems and I do a whole bunch of them for the special. I have a piano and I bring up volunteers at the end of the show. Really it’s just an excuse for me to roast people from the audience. It worked out great. Especially the second one; he’s a toll taker from New Jersey. It’s pretty out there.
I also just read some of the recaps from the Saget roast and I have to say that I was so happy that the Willie Nelson roast didn’t work out.
Interesting, you’re the first person to say that. Why?
I just thought it would be awesome to see Full House alumus getting blasted.
Well, I wasn’t a Full House guy. I’m more of a Bob Saget Aristocrats fan. It was one of the few times I’ve gotten to roast a really good friend. I’m obviously a fan of Willie Nelson and it would’ve been fun. But I heard he canceled because accidentally smoked the Hollywood bowl. That was the one joke I had for him.
Of all the guests of honor at the Comedy Central roasts, I think Saget would be the person I’d be most worried about taking podium and exacting his revenge.
Yeah, I think this one people are really going to love. As much as the last roast with Flavor Flav was really fun. This one goes back to a more traditional roast where its just a bunch of comics making fun of another comic. There’s a lot of inside jokes that people will really get a kick out of.