Comic Jeff Ross has gained fame by lovingly lambasting famous folks like Hugh Hefner, William Shatner and Pamela Anderson on Comedy Central Roast. His new weekly Comedy Central series, The Burn with Jeff Ross, applies his off-the-cuff, in-your-face approach to a comedian-panel format and takes it out on the street, where he roasts current events and everyday people we like to gripe about (meter maids, anyone?). But as Ross explains, there’s a skillful art to firing his comical cannonballs without going too far.
Know Your Targets: “You don’t want whiny or supersensitive people. People we’ve roasted before, like Charlie Sheen or Donald Trump, are thick-skinned and are very accomplished in their fields, so they can take a joke. And that’s really the key to roasting.”
Pick the Right Ammo: “You want it to be a personal joke but not have the person take it personally. You want it to be a badge of honor. The best jokes are backhanded compliments, jokes that the guest of honor can go home and repeat to his or her friends. ‘Guess what Jeff Ross said about me?’ ”
Be a Target: “My live [stand-up] shows have evolved to where I now speed roast with actual volunteers from the audience. I like to shine a light on the hecklers and invite them on stage to roast the roast master if they want.”
Accept Return Fire: “I roasted Richard Branson once, and he didn’t take it well and dumped his drink on my head. I won’t be flying Virgin anytime soon.”