As my friends know, I’ve been a fan of William Shatner’s works for a while, so I decided to watch Comedy Central’s Roasting of The Living Legend himself.
For those unfamiliar with a roast (not to be confused with a roast dinner, which by the looks of him, Shatner would prefer), it’s where a roomful of the person’s friends and acquaintances get together and poke fun at him with the intention of showing how good-natured the Roastee is. In this case, Shatner got to say something as well and respond to the jokes.
The host of the roast is Jason Alexander (sounds like a mythological hero), who breaks up the guests with some jokes of his own before introducing the next one.
Such Star Trek actors as George Takei (rhymes with toupee) and Nichelle Nichols appear, along with a whole other bunch of people that English people probably recognise vaguely. The role of these comedians (as most of them were) was seemingly to do nothing but mock the other comedians, with a token acknowledgement of how Shatner influenced them, or how they know him.
Most of the comedians were pretty damn funny, and they certainly got laughs from me. Although with George Takei being there, there was a strange preference for gay jokes, which I found a bit odd. Surely there is tons of stuff that you could say about The Shatman? Another complaint is that a lot of their humour seemed to be aiming for shock value, which is a peeve of mine. Sure, I like rude comedians as much as anyone, but when there’s more gasping than laughing, you know something’s wrong. Only one of the comedians made fun of the fact that he rode in on a bloody horse! I realise there’s a reason for that but still!
My picks of the show are Shatner himself (naturally), Betty White was pretty funny too, but I think my favourite has to be George Takei. You have not lived until you have heard Sulu himself making gay jokes and on top of that he was genuinely funny, which you don’t expect from a serious actor (“Bill Shatner…if my boyfriend could suck that hard, I’d never leave the château.”).
The last five minutes or so is The Shat himself taking the stage to talk about the others and how he felt about being roasted. He was one of the funniest acts on the show, although as any true Trekker (Trekkie?) will know, he got the opening voiceover of Star Trek wrong when he performed it here.
The performers were George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Farrah Fawcett (there’s a blast from the past!), Andy Dick, Greg Giraldo, Betty White, Patton Oswalt, Lisa Lampanelli, Artie Lange, Kevin Pollak (he does impressions of Shatner, pretty funny), Fred Willard (the newspaper editor from Anchorman) and Jeffrey Ross.
There are some nice nods to Star Trek in the mix, such as the green Orion girls tending bar, or his famous expression during the ‘KHANNN!’ bit as one of the big pictures of Shatner on the wall.
All in all, if you are a casual fan or a devoted fan, you could do a lot worse than seeking out this hour and twenty minutes of laughter. It’s on dvd or you can go the cheapskate route and watch it on the internet.