“Jeff Ross Roasts America,” on Comedy Central

When Jeffrey Ross describes Jeff Ross Roasts America — which debuts tonight on Comedy Central — as a special, he and the cable network mean it.

This hour (42 minutes minus the ads) isn’t your standard-issue stand-up headlining set, but rather, a travelogue, road trip and customized roast-a-thon, with celebrities and ordinary Americans all included in the mix. It’s also a prelude to both the annual Comedy Central Roast — for 2012, it’s Roseanne, airing on Sunday — as well as a weekly “roast” the news/gossip series for Ross on the network called The Burn with Jeff Ross, which premieres next Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.

Ross begins his cross-country mission in Seattle, which while not close to his homes in New York or Hollywood, is closer to his close relatives. Ross makes his nephew his first target offstage. Onstage, he mixes stand-up with specific barbs aimed at Courtney Love, the late Kurt Cobain and Bill Gates. In Seattle and other stops on the tour, Ross also has begun inviting audience members onstage (volunteers only, so he’s not picking on people without permission) and “speed-roasting” them.

Here is an example of an audience speed-roast from Jeff Ross.

The special actually should be called “Jeff Ross Roasts North America,” because he crosses the border into Canada for a gig in Toronto. In the winter. Brrr. Celine Dion as a joke target? Sure. Michael J. Fox? Now, that’s cold.

Roll the clip.

Ross also visits and cracks wise at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the beach in Miami, reunites onstage with a past lover in Minneapolis, finds a way to exchange jokes with a wounded veteran, meets Dolly Parton in Las Vegas, plays songs on the guitar, gives shout-outs to Greg Giraldo and Patrice Oneal, deals with drunks both male and female, and tools around Tennessee with country musician John Rich.

It’s all in good ribbing fun.

Especially since, as always, Ross takes time out of his act to turn the roasting onto himself.

“Too soon? Never too soon.”

MORE: If you’re in the Los Angeles area this month and at least 18 years old, you can attend a live taping of The Burn with Jeff Ross on Thursday nights.

RELATED READING: Jeffrey Ross spoke with The Comic’s Comic in 2011 about “Roast in Peace” (a phrase mentioned multiple times in his Comedy Central special) and making jokes about dead celebrities.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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