Comedy Central aired their latest “roast” special with Justin Bieber as the target. It should be noted that I am writing this column before I am actually able to watch the special, due to print deadlines. The star-studded event was filmed beforehand and People Magazine compiled a list of the best zingers of the night.
It seemed to be pretty standard “roast” fare, making fun of Bieber’s preteen fan base, legal trouble and general personality, as well as shots taken at the other “roasters.” Roasts are fairly common in the comedy community, typically involving groups of comedians getting together to “celebrate” a guest of dishonor by making fun of them in every possible way.
Comedy Central has been televising “roasts” for over a decade now, some for big name comedians like Denis Leary and Roseanne Barr, but many have been for celebrities outside the comedy community, like Bieber.
I have not seen many “roasts” because I don’t particularly care for the rude and crude humor they often contain, but I have watched the 2013 “Roast of James Franco” and I have heard a portion of the 2011 “Roast of Charlie Sheen” and both “roastees” seemed surprised by just how mean some of the jokes were.
Justin Bieber apparently reiterated this same sentiment in his own “roast,” according to People Magazine. It seems that celebrities outside the comedy community don’t really know what they’re signing up for when they agree to be roasted.
In Franco’s case, a majority of the so-called “roasters” were friends of his, so at least a jury of his peers judged him. The same cannot be said for Sheen and Bieber. Both were roasted by panels of comedians and celebrities that seemingly had very little to do with them. For example, Martha Stewart roasted Bieber.
Franco’s “Roast” was overall more civil than what I heard of Sheen’s. 2013 was sort of the “year of Franco.” He had so many projects in the works it was sort of ridiculous, and quite frankly, people were getting really tired of hearing his name. Myself included. From artsy movies to books to experimental art to working as a college professor, the known pothead who got his start on the cult classic “Freaks and Geeks” had become SO pretentious.
In a lot of ways, he was at the top of his game when he was roasted. Sheen was not. Some will remember (though Charlie probably won’t) 2011 as an incredibly tumultuous time for the 80s heartthrob. He was having all kinds of legal trouble, addiction and what can only be described as a very public, very vocal mental breakdown that lead to him being fired from “Two and a Half Men,” his most stable job in years.
In fact, it is mentioned in Sheen’s “roast” that the special aired at the same time as the “Two and a Half Men” episode about his character’s funeral. This particular fact only added to the kick-him-while-he’s-down tone of his “roast.”
This same mentality and timing seems to be informing Bieber’s “roast.” Bieber’s legal woes and drug issues look like child’s play compared to Sheen’s, but his career is still in decline. I’m not saying Sheen and Bieber don’t deserve to be mocked, because they do. I’ve done it. I’m saying it’s too easy and maybe doesn’t need to be televised.
In Bieber’s case especially, he’s a 21-year-old CHILD who was given way too much financial freedom way too early in life with no real guidance. It would probably be more beneficial to him and to our society to just let him burn out like so many troubled child stars before him.