It’s a very special edition of Notes From a Comedy Junkie as our own Sara Dahms flew out to Los Angeles to cover Comedy Central’s Roast of Alec Baldwin. Sara is a comedy superfan who even goes so far as to call herself a comedy nerd. Raised on National Lampoon, John Hughes, Gene Wilder, and Fairy Tale Theatre, her life changed after her older sister showed her Eddie Murphy’s Raw in 1988. Soon after, she found Andrew Dice Clay and became a stand-up junkie for life. Eighteen months ago, she took her first comedycation to see Jeff Ross play in Miami on her birthday. Since then, she’s been traveling all over the country checking out the best comedy everywhere, a confirmed comedy addict, and now she’s agreed to share her travels with us. Read all Sara’s write-ups here, and check out her red carpet coverage of the Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin with interviews with Nikki Glaser, Chris Redd, Pete Lee and more.
I have loved Alec Baldwin ever since I first saw him on screen as the sexy but deplorable, Davis McDonald in the John Hughes classic, She’s Having a Baby and don’t even get me started on what those baby blues did to me when he was cast as Mick Dugan in one of my favorite movies, Working Girl! Needless to say, when I heard that Alec Baldwin was going to be this year’s Comedy Central roastee, I was beyond excited! Then, when I learned that the dais was going to feature Sean Hayes as our roast master and boasted roasters such as Robert De Niro, Caitlyn Jenner, Jeff Ross, Blake Griffin, Caroline Rhea, Nikki Glaser, Ken Jeong, Chris Redd and Adam Corolla, I was equal parts impressed and curious. I was impressed because when we talk about the holy trinity on the Italian side of my family, we’re usually talking about Brando, Pacino and De Niro and I was curious because in light of the recent outrage over some of the jokes in Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special Sticks and Stones I was curious to see if this recent push by the cancel culturistas would cause anyone on the dais to hold back or make certain subject matters too taboo to touch; especially that which pertains to Caitlyn Jenner’s recent completion of gender reassignment surger. I am extremely happy to report that there was no indication that any subject area or joke was off limits for these courageous comedians! The Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin was an amazing night of celebrating comedy, camaraderie and completely throwing caution into the wind!
Comedian Pete Lee came out to open the show with a perfectly timed set before introducing our Roast Master of the evening, Sean Hayes! Sean Hayes is absolutely hilarious in his portrayal of Jack McFarland on Will and Grace and with the confidence and sass of one hundred Jacks, Sean Hayes took aim at this star-studded dais and showed no fear!
He complemented Caitlyn Jenner for having the courage to participate in this roast and then proceeded to tell her not to worry because “Any of the material you don’t like can be cut!” and with that one joke, I knew that Comedy was alive and well.
He said, “Let’s talk about the real reason why we’re here tonight…. To meet Robert De Niro!”
When Sean Hayes did actually address Baldwin he had absolutely no problem roasting his buddy for his infamous temper and for his wife, who is a talented yoga instructor, being able to get him into the impressive position “where he has to work every day, for the rest of his life!” Roasts are so much fun and this event was off to an amazing start!
The razor sharp comedian and roaster extraordinaire, Nikki Glaser was the first roaster up to the podium. She killed at last year’s Roast of Bruce Willis and this year was no different! She absolutely nailed the material she painstakingly goes into what she described as being “Roast Mode” to prepare during the weeks leading up to this night and I could clearly see what she had explained to me about how she trains her brain to be in “Roast Mode” during her writing process coming through in her material tonight. Some of my favorites:
when she told Blake Griffin that he “kind of looks like a printer that is running out of ink”
when she said that Chris Redd is “always dressed like a 9 year old who found $1,000 on the side walk”
and then delivered a Grade A zinger to Caitlyn about being a Republican.
I absolutely loved all of Glaser’s material but my favorite part of her set was what she had written for the man of the hour, Alec Baldwin. (you’ll have to hear that for yourself, but read about it below)
During my conversation with Nikki Glaser on the red carpet, I thanked her for the joke she made to Kevin Pollack about his Robin Williams impression at The Roast of Bruce Willis last year. Nikki then shared with me that like Robin Williams, she too has struggled with suicidal ideations in her life and that writing and telling jokes about suicide has helped her find therapeutic relief and by getting suicide into the conversation through comedy, she isn’t making light of it, she is “bringing it into the light.” Then, later that night, while she was delivering her very last joke of the evening, she brought up Alec Baldwin’s memoir and said that in it, he talks about his experience with suicidal ideation. Then, on national television, protected only by the amour of a cleverly crafted joke, Nikki Glaser shared that she too has had suicidal ideations. Although her closing joke may have taken only seconds to deliver, it took a lifetime of experience, a wealth of talent and an ocean of courage to deliver! Brava, Nikki Glaser!!! Brava!!!
Nikki Glaser had my favorite overall set of the evening!
Ken Jeong had a great line for Blake Griffin, “I guess orange is the new black” and a hilarious joke for his buddy Alec Baldwin, “You weren’t the star of 30 Rock and with De Niro here tonight, you’re not even the star of your own Roast!”
Chris Redd had one of my favorite Caitlyn Jenner jokes of the evening, “You came out, then voted for Trump and closed the door on your ass right behind you! You’re like an Auntie Tom for the trans community.”
Caitlyn Jenner was up next and I am not too proud to admit that my heart broke a little when I didn’t get the chance to speak with her on the red carpet. She was one of the people I was most excited to see tonight and Caitlyn completely killed it and is completely deserving of a standing ovation, not only for her outstanding performance, but for having the courage to sit up there, with a lineup of killers, coming straight at her with no holds barred! Jenner took each joke in stride and thanks to her great sense of humor and Olympic gold level of good sportsmanship, she truly seemed to be having a tremendous time up there and that made The Roast of Alec Baldwin really feel like a party! I think part of that sense of camaraderie also came from the fact that Caitlyn had some pretty interesting connections to several of the other roasters up there with her. Blake Griffin happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Caitlyn’s daughter Kendall Jenner and Alec Baldwin and Caitlyn Jenner’s daughters went to high school together, plus Caitlyn was actually Ireland Baldwin’s track coach when she was in high school! I definitely believe that those authentic relationships are a huge reason why all of the jokes this dais lobbed at one another landed and got such big laughs! As the Roast Master General, Jeff Ross, often reminds us “We only roast the ones we love.” Some of my favorite moments from Caitlyn were
when she told Blake that he is always welcome in her home… where he’ll always “have to live with the fact that he is the second greatest athlete in the house!”
I also loved it when Caitlyn used this platform to speak words of encouragement and teach the world how to battle transphobia through comedy by laughing your way to acceptance. I loved it when she said, “There’s a lot of hate in the world but if I can sit up here all night and take this, there is nothing we can’t get through… except Adam Corolla’s podcast!”
She also ended on a real high note when she declared to the world, “I’m not perfect. I’m a person trying to figure out my life, just like everyone else. All I want is for future generations of transgender people to know that if I can find the courage to be who I am, then you can too. If you have a problem with that, then you can suck my dick…. If you can find it!!!!” AND THE CROWD WENT WILD!!!!!
Caroline Rhea came up next. I died when she turned to Nikki Glaser and asked her which 1970’s athlete she used to be? I seriously died. Then she turned her sights on Robert De Niro and teased him about his age by saying that Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci were starring in a movie together that is 3 hours long and then asked De Niro if it was just a movie about the three of them trying to pee?! She was so funny!
Blake Griffin was up next. There was a lot of buzz and anticipation around seeing his performance tonight and this will most likely be the first time a lot of people will be seeing Blake Griffin do comedy but I can promise you one thing, it definitely won’t be the last! I remember seeing Blake Griffin in the audience at the very first show I ever attended at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. It was the Veep panel and I remember thinking that it was really cool of him to be there. Then, just a few a short time later he went on Roast Battle and faced off head to head against the Roast Master General himself and completely held his own against Jeff Ross. I can honestly say that he earned my respect after showing up like that for his Roast Battle. I did not expect him to be packing so much heat that night but I was not about to underestimate him again. I knew he was going to kill and he ended up having one of the strongest sets of the night.
He had a funny zinger for Nikki Glaser when he compared her looks to Larry Bird the called her a “damaged little climber.”
Adam Carolla got it when he said that he “races cars in his ‘spare time.’ So, like, all the time, Adam?”
He also had a pretty sweet two for one that hit both Caroline Rhea and Robert De Niro and involved Salem, the black cat in the punch line.
Then he dropped 2 atomic bombs that completely leveled the room and were both directed right at Caitlyn Jenner. First he addressed the fact that Caitlyn completed her gender reassignment surgery in 2017 and then said that proved that “no one in that family wants a white dick.”
It was at that point, Caitlyn stood up and the stage became a playground. Blake was quick with his reaction and said, “I thought she was coming after me there for a second!” Griffin then landed a knock-out line when he turned to Caitlyn and in all sincerity said, “On behalf of the entire NBA and half of the rappers on the Billboard charts…. Thank you for giving your daughters their daddy issues!” And a comedy star was born!
Poor Adam Carolla had to follow that monster set but still got big laughs with his joke to Chris Redd, “Alec loves untalented brothers, he has three of them!” Then closed big with a strong message about the importance of freedom of speech and brought it all home with a joke that declared that if the “cancel culture wins, Jeff Ross will still be the Roast Master General… at the Arby’s in Glendale!”
Demi Moore completely nailed her surprise guest spot at The Roast of Bruce Willis and I am so happy to report that Baldwin’s daughter Ireland Baldwin kept that tradition alive! Her complicated relationship with her father, including the infamous voicemail he left calling her a “spoiled little pig” that made the rounds in all of the tabloids was a popular premise over the course of this evening, so it was a very big moment when she walked out on the stage and she absolutely nailed it! She hit every mark and she was ruthless!
She opened with a joke about knowing her dad as “that guy from like half of my birthday parties.”
She then went on to tease him about not only losing his temper but “also losing Emmys and Oscars”
and ended with, “And now I’m going to say something that you’ve never said to me before, Goodnight!” **Mic Drop**
Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog made a surprise cameo next and featured Jeff Ross on the drums providing rim shots as appropriate for comedic affect and he had a really funny set. I liked it when he told Alec that being on Sesame Street would be the only way he could get close to an Oscar and asked how he could insult Robert De Niro’s legacy “in a way that his past 12 movies haven’t already?”
And with that the next roaster up to the stage was the man, the myth, the legend, Robert De Niro!!! Some of my favorite De Niro moments
when he told Nikki Glaser that she looked “much older in person,” then declared that he didn’t even know what a Nikki Glaser is. I guess she had that one coming after saying that he looked like ALF during her set earlier in the evening but she always has fun while she’s up there and is a big laugher herself.
he told Jeff Ross that he had to gain 60 pounds in 4 months for his role in Raging Bull then asked Jeff what his excuse was!
Robert De Niro is a legend and it was completely surreal seeing him up there on the stage, especially considering the fact that every guy I dated in my 20’s had a poster of him somewhere in their home!
The Roast Master General, Jeff Ross was up next. He is the absolute physical embodiment of roasting and he always brings the show to another level. He had so many killer jokes in his set that I could hardly keep up with him in my notebook! The man just slays, consistently and at a rapid speed. One after another, he launched and landed joke after joke after joke. Here are my top three favorite Jeff Ross jokes of the night,
“Adam Carolla said that women aren’t funny. Well, they are and you should have hired some to write your jokes tonight!”
“Caitlyn, how can a person who chooses to be a woman vote against a woman’s right to choose? Who did you transition into, Man Coulter?!”
I also loved the joke Jeff wrote about Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression that said that Alec is such a narcissistic asshole, “Trump has been doing an Alec Baldwin impression… only Trump calls his daughter a fox, not a pig!” ZING!
There was another really fun moment for me during Jeff’s set because you never know who is going to show up to support when Jeff Ross is involved and tonight he pointed out that Larry David was in the house! I already knew that Larry was there because earlier in the evening I got some intel that he was right outside of the press room. So like the comedy nerd I am, I flew out those doors at the speed of light, only to find that Larry was in line at the men’s room and although the struggle was real, I decided to curb my enthusiasm and let the man pee in peace! I’m such a fan of his that simply having seen him in the flesh was good enough for me! *Swoon*
The show closed with this year’s Roastee, Alec Baldwin taking the podium and he did a tremendous job returning the favor to each and every person up there on that dais and he showed no mercy!
Alec completely cracked me up when he told Blake Griffin that his gift to him would be “exposure to whatever skin condition you have!”
Another one of my favorite jokes he told was, “Tonight, Caitlyn taught us about courage and Sean Hayes about firm handshakes!”
Baldwin then turned his attention to Robert De Niro and said that he was “the only taxi driver that consistently picks up black women”
Alec Baldwin went full “Roast Mode” on every person up there on the dais and then brought this magical evening to a close in a classic Hollywood fashion, by singing “My Way” with the great Paul Anka!
After the show, I boarded the shuttle and headed off to the after party at the beautiful Soho House in West Hollywood! There was open top shelf bar, fully stocked gourmet buffets and servers passing ridiculously delicious hors d’oeuvres everywhere and most importantly there was a DJ and a dance floor that was jumping all night long! The party was perfect and I was beyond thrilled to have a Just For Laughs reunion with my friend and fellow comedy nerd, Zoe. I was also grateful to have had the opportunity to tell Jeff Ross what an amazing time I had at this fabulous event and it doesn’t get better than that!