Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff (2010)

Posted: March 17, 2011 in Comedy and Standup

Is it just me or are roasts the worst? I know that it is a long, celebrated tradition for comedians to gather together and say terrible things about one another, but inside jokes and vicious slander just really aren’t my cup of tea – unless I’m the one delivering the jabs.

While roasts used to either be televised and tame or private and vulgar, Comedy Central has bridged the gap by making them both televised and vulgar. The cable network began producing and airing the New York Friars’ Club’s annual roasts in 1998. After five years of that, Comedy Central started creating their own roasts in the same spirit. Hardly a year has passed without the network roasting a celebrity, some of them comedians (Denis Leary, Jeff Foxworthy, Bob Saget, Larry the Cable Guy) and others less so. Adding to the latter class is Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff. Having debuted last August, this most recent special came to DVD January 11th, allowing the “Knight Rider” actor, international singer, “America’s Got Talent” judge, and reliable joke punchline to join the ranks of Comedy Central roastees like William Shatner, Flavor Flav, and his “Baywatch” co-star Pamela Anderson.

Anderson is on hand as the most relevant roaster of the program, on which “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane serves as roastmaster. Other speakers include comedians and regular roasters Jeffrey Ross, Lisa Lampanelli, Whitney Cummings, and the recently deceased Greg Giraldo. Rounding out the eclectic group are Hulk Hogan, “Talent” colleague Jerry Springer, longtime actor George Hamilton, and Gilbert Gottfried.

Being a conniseuer of Comedy Central roasts, I would deem this a fairly typical one. Each roaster chooses obvious targets while going after one another, such as MacFarlane’s debt to “The Simpsons”, Hamilton’s age and signature tan, Springer’s brand of sleaze, Lampanelli’s weight and apparent predilection for black men, and the less famous folks’ general obscurity. Hasselhoff, who ascends to the stage with a performance of “Hooked on a Feeling” and signs off with “This is the Moment” from his Broadway debut Jekyll & Hyde, barely gets more notice than the others. The comedic goldmines that are his career, personas, and personal life are widely traversed. Naturally, his battle with alcoholism emblemized by his 2007 drunken shirtless burger-eating viral video is repeatedly ridiculed.

Roasters often strive to push the envelope and those featured here uphold this rite. Genitalia, most often Anderson’s, are frequently personified. Jokes are made about the Holocaust, the African American civil rights movement, and then-current news stories. Gary Coleman’s corpse gets likened to Hasselhoff’s liver. In these comedians’ minds, nothing is in poor taste and with Hasselhoff agreeing to no boundaries, just about anything goes. As always, the outrageous insults are received with larger-than-life guffaws, with every target — especially Hasselhoff, sitting high in a red lifeguard chair — taking pain to display that they are the best of sports.

It’s a highly unpleasant atmosphere masked by joviality and I can’t imagine enjoying it any more as part of the approving free audience than as an unamused home viewer.

There are two brief highlights to the show, which at 72 minutes runs at least nine minutes longer than it did in its 90 minutes of commercial airtime. The first is an early montage of Hasselhoff footage incorporating, among other things, “Baywatch”, “Knight Rider” and Click clips, appearances on “Diff’rent Strokes”, “SpongeBob SquarePants”, and Norm MacDonald’s “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update, his performance at the Berlin Wall’s fall, references on “The Simpsons” and “South Park”, and the infamous burger video. This amusingly-edited reel entertains more than everything else that is to follow. That includes the second respite, which has an unseen, uncredited William Daniels (also of “Boy Meets World” and “St. Elsewhere” fame) shortly reprising his role of KITT to good-naturedly join in the ribbing and questioning of Hasselhoff’s judgment.

It wasn’t the best roast Comedy Central has produced – that honor going to Bob Saget – but it’s worth a one-time watch for the jokes and maybe a second peek for the appearance of Pam Anderson. All in all, The Nutwork rates it 7.5 out of 10. Happy viewing.

IMDB: Here


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