There is a long tradition in comedy of the "insult comic" -- someone who gets the majority of their laughs from skewering or roasting those around them. Most would agree that Don Rickles, who at 85 years old is still out there taking shots at everyone, is the king of them all. But in the modern era of roasting, made popular by the Comedy Central Roasts, comedian Jeffrey Ross has taken on the symbolic title of Roastmaster General and run with it at a blazing speed.
Never afraid of going too far (as long as the targets are in on it, of course), Ross has made a living roasting the likes of Hugh Hefner, William Shatner, Pamela Anderson, and Charlie Sheen. Besides the television appearances, however, he's performed extensively for U.S. troops overseas (even releasing a documentary he shot himself in 2005 while on a U.S.O. tour), appeared on television (CSI, Children's Hospital, The Sarah Silverman Program), and co-wrote a film with Art Linson called The Comedian which will star Robert De Niro and Kristin Wiig and be directed by Sean Penn.
Of course, a stand-up comic's real work is hitting the road, and Ross has been doing just that with his Jeff Ross Roasts America tour beginning last year. The tour takes a detour north beginning tomorrow (Feb. 10) in Winnipeg, with Jeff Ross Roasts Canada making its way through Toronto (Feb. 11), Ottawa (Feb. 12), Calgary (Feb. 16), Edmonton (Feb. 17), and Vancouver (Feb. 18) courtesy of Just for Laughs. I got a chance to speak with Jeff last week, and we spoke about his start in comedy, the Comedy Central (and Friar's Club) roasts, what Canadians can expect when they come out to see his show, and a lot more.
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Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)