Wednesday, September 12, 2007

almost famous

Or, as DJ Hazard put it at my roast, "The Poulten March Is On!"

From today's New York Post:



September 12, 2007 -- HAPPY birthday, you syphilitic loser!

Next time you’re looking to honor a friend or colleague, forget boring drinks at a bar or a tedious group dinner. Karaoke? Played.

The birthday party du jour is . . . the roast.

And really, what could be more fun than getting close friends together to publicly and mercilessly tear someone limb from limb?

It’s like Alberto Gonzalez’s congressional hearing, only with an open bar.

“The roast is a time-honored tradition,” says Chris DeLuca, a writer-comic who has been organizing roasts with his friends for a few years. “People have seen those old Dean Martin roasts and think they look pretty funny. Roasts are cool. They evoke memories of people laughing, smoking cigars, being good sports. They’re a different thing to do.”

And as different as they are, they still, oddly enough, serve the same purpose as a regular party: showering a guest of honor with attention.

“Even when they’re mocking you, all the attention is on you,” says Jane Borden, a writer who recently had herself roasted upon turning 30. “It was like a wedding, except it was just about me. And filthy.”

“It’s something in our culture that it’s acceptable to see people squirm,” says Geordarna Poulten, an event planner who just threw a surprise roast for her brother, Benari. “Plus, me being the younger sister, it was a good way to pay my brother back.”

That said, there’s a fine line between cracking on someone in a good-natured way and going too far.

“Anything that violates relationships is something you shouldn’t go near,” DeLuca says. “It’s an opportunity to bust people’s chops, but you should be able to say the things in front of his girlfriend or wife and not have a fear of an impending divorce.”

Benari Poulten says he enjoyed his ribbing, no matter how malicious it got. “Comedy is the only profession where people pay respect to you by beating you up. It’s an honor,” he says. “Roasts are one of the times when you can let loose. You’re almost given permission to be as brutal as possible. It’s really about seeing how far you can go.”

And far they went. How about these jokes from Benari’s friends? Sorry, “friends” ?

“Benari is so little, his last showbiz gig was when he was hired to be the bait on ‘To Catch a Predator,’ ” cracked Dan Newbower.

“I’m not saying Benari is short, but it must feel good to know that if you’re ever in a gunfight, you never need to worry about ducking,” said Baron Vaughn.

“People don’t know this, but Benari actually has written some new jokes in the past six years. It’s just that someone put them up on the high shelf,” said Kyria Abrahams.

We’re gonna hazard a guess that Benari is not tall.

The fun was only amplified by the fact that his parents were there.

“That gave the night a surreal feel,” he says. “It was weird having people saying these graphic things and looking over and seeing my mom laughing.”

These days, though, everyone can enjoy a good roast. Comedy Central runs the occasional special, and Sarah Silverman turned her emcee gig at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards into an opportunity to pick apart famous people in the audience.

Of 50 Cent she said, “Can I just say I think it’s so cute that he’s still alive.”

But she saved her harshest quips for Britney Spears, who’d just finished performing. “Have you seen Britney’s kids?” Silverman asked. “They are the most adorable mistakes you’ll ever see.”

Britney was probably not laughing. Although somewhere, K-Fed was - but only because he was high.

See how easy it is to make fun of someone? Go out and try it yourself. Make sure to bring your sharpest barbs, your strongest liquor and, above all, your thickest skin.

And for added fun, I had the last line of the "Rules of the Roast" side bar piece...a rule which is quite apropos, I think.



September 12, 2007 -- SHOULD you be invited to speak at a roast - and at this point, it’s only a matter of time - here are some pointers to appropriately pay tribute to the honoree (and keep the other presenters from unleashing a malicious verbal assault upon you).

1. Keep it short, dummy

“Three minutes is a long time,” says roaster Jane Borden. “You really don’t need more than that.”

2. Write actual jokes, jackass

Try not to just tell embarrassing stories. Those tend to have a you-had-to-be-there quality. Come up with a bunch of short quips instead. “It’s a very specific art form, and if you stick to it, you’ll do well,” says Borden.

3. Know the limits, nimrod

Sure, it’s a harsh environment, but you don’t want to go too far by spilling personal secrets or insulting someone’s significant other. “Don’t say, ‘Hey, it’s great you’re marrying Karen, but did you know Bill banged her?’ ” suggests roaster Chris DeLuca. “It’s not good to have a fistfight.”

4. Crack on others in the room, dimwit

Spread the non-love around! Everyone in the room, especially the other presenters, is fair game and should be destroyed. “Everyone gets a little bit of attention,” says DeLuca. “It’s a weird ego thing. Some of my friends who are comedians, the worst thing you can do is not mention them.”

5. Spin old jokes in a new way, dufus

Yeah, your friend is fat and has warrants out for his arrest in Florida. Everyone is going to be making fun of those same attributes; your challenge is to come up with a new way to harp on tired themes. “I had a roast for a friend, and people made fun of the amount that he drinks,” says DeLuca. “So people came up and would say, ‘Frank is a drunk.’ Someone else would say, ‘He’s dying of cirrhosis.’ But by the fourth or fifth time, they had to get creative to make the same joke. I said, ‘A lot of people get up here and talk about his alcohol addiction, but if you do that, you miss out on his other life-crippling insecurities.’ ”

6. Get ready for the consequences, %รณ&@#!

“Be prepared to make apologies the next day,” says roastee Benari Poulten. “You never know.”