Jeff Ross "only roasts the ones he loves." At least, that's what he tells us. Over the years, he's become Comedy Central's go-to Roast Master General. If there's a celebrity out there in need of a verbal beat down, Ross is the man for the job. And in turn, it seems that everyone loves him. Probably because he's not above giving himself a jovial beating on stage every now and then. Make sure to catch him when he comes to the Brea Improv May 2nd through 4th. Recently we talked with him about loyalty amongst comics, why Joan Rivers is actually the shit and why he wouldn't want to be roasted himself.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): What's going on with your show The Burn? I hope it's coming back soon!
Jeff Ross: The Burn is coming back and we're going to do a series of specials a few times a year. It's kind of cool because it'll be more of a major event rather than a weekly series. We're starting production soon.
That's awesome! How will it work being that it's longer?
I'll have a panel and we'll do remotes burning bigger ideas. So instead of burning the headlines every week, we'll burn bigger concepts. Guns, marijuana, freedom, patriotism, whatever we want to shine a light on. I was thinking of starting with the Fourth of July because it encompasses so many things that I love like hot dogs, freedom...beating the British.
Obviously we all love you on the Comedy Central Roasts but what are the chances that you'd be the one getting roasted? Could you handle that or are you more of a disher?
[Laughs.] I feel like I'm too sensitive. It'd probably hurt my feelings. I also feel like I get roasted constantly in my real life everywhere I go. Even on Twitter. People are just always taking shots at me as retribution. I feel like if I did do a roast and I got friends to do it, I would consider it a great honor. I'd love it. People would probably be lining up to watch that.
Oh for sure! We all wait to see what you'll do but if it was actually your turn? Wow. You should probably wait until you're older though.
I think so. There's not enough stuff on me yet.
I totally disagree. I think there's tons of shit on you.
[Laughs.] Yeah but that's just when I'm feeling kinky.
OK that's a different kind of shit. You're really great with the "too soon" jokes. Do you have any thoughts on this bullshit outrage over Joan Rivers?
I saw something about it but I didn't really read it because it's just like another day in Joan River's life of saying inappropriate stuff. I think Joan Rivers is a beacon of free speech. If she didn't offend somebody yesterday, why would she offend somebody today? It's like, change the channel or don't follow her on Twitter. But if you like your comedy raw and uncensored, she's the place to go. There aren't many outlets out there anymore. It's a comedian's job to shine a light on people like Ariel Castro and remind people how awful it is. You have to remind people to laugh through the pain because otherwise life is raw. In the old days if you pissed somebody off or did something inappropriate, people would write a letter to the comedy club or the network. Now with social media you can't say anything! As far as free speech goes, it's almost a police state! It's really sad actually.
I stand on the same side you do, the whole thing is out of hand. I'm seriously grateful OC Weekly gives us the freedom to be creative. Censoring is so unnatural.
Well I appreciate you always fighting for comedians and as a journalist, I think it's really important. You have to stand-up. I mean, Joan Rivers won't be around forever! Bad taste isn't a crime you know. It's just so frustrating.
I know you're tight with Gilbert Gottfried so what are your thoughts about what went down at the Friars Club with Shecky Greene?
Yeah, I love Gilbert and all of that made him really upset. I mean, he pissed off an ancient legend. [Laughs.] Comedians look for a lot of excuses to bail out of a gig and I think that Gilbert got scapegoated. Shecky probably didn't want to go on and he used Gilbert as an excuse.
What bums me out the most, besides that I LOVE Gilbert, is that it's like a comic turning against a comic. You gotta ban together!
Yeah, I just think he wanted to get out of the gig. I love Shecky and he knows that but it's like you said, comics need to stick together. It's just silly to air your dirty laundry.
Seriously. So what's going on with the TV pilot for ABC I was reading about?
Yeah we just shot it! We'll find out in the next couple of weeks if it gets picked up. It stars me, Kevin Hart, Romany Malco, and Bresha Webb. It's so fun. It's totally different than anything you've seen me do because it's like a family sitcom. There are kids on it! [Laughs.] We had to make a curse jar on set. It's wild.
OK I totally want to see that! Any plans of writing another book?
That's a good question because people have been asking me that. You know I've been writing my stories down but I don't know. Maybe when I'm old. People are still reading the first book so I'm happy with that. I'm concentrating on performing so I'm not ready to look back on life just yet. I gotta have a few more tragedies first before anything is funny!
Well last time you were out in Brea you did some speed roasting of the audience which was incredible. Any chance you'll give them some more of that?
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Oh yeah! And hopefully if someone is reading this that is fat or weird, they have an obligation to their fellow Californians to come on stage at the Improv. I want weirdos. I want the unique! If you're pregnant or handicapped, please come to the show! I'm bringing my guitar too so I'll also have a few roast-y songs as well.
Check out Jeff Ross at the Brea Improv May 2nd through 4th, 120 South Brea Blvd. Brea, CA 92821. (714) 482-0700. For tickets go to www.Improv.com. Make sure you catch The Burn when it returns this summer and for more info, check out www.RoastMasterGeneral.com and follow him on Twitter @RealJeffRoss.