Jeff Ross is host, executive producer and presumably the star of Historical Roasts on Netflix.
But it’s not about him. Nor is about living people, for that matter. Historical Roasts wants us to enjoy seeing dead celebrities brought to task via the modern-day roast format. Does it work? Well…
Joke for joke, the best roasting comes from the stand-ups with the most experience with the form, from Natasha Leggero as Mary Todd Lincoln to Glaser as Cobain.
While the comedians and actors stay true to their impersonations, their jokes sometimes break the fourth dimensional wall to hit home even harder with their targets, the live studio audience or you the viewers. Leggero describes Ross as a “Union general who ate a Rebel Wilson;” to the rest of the dais, she later zings: “My husband famously said, ‘A house divided cannot stand.’ Too bad he didn’t say, ‘A Full House divided cannot be reboot.’”
Some of the comedians spends as much time on themselves or on their character’s place in history as they do ribbing anyone else. Yamaneika Saunders as Harriet Tubman got heated explaining what the slaves endured. John Gemberling spent his time as Babe Ruth roasting Ruth in the third person.
For my money, the most inspired casting showcased Jaleel White, who does double duty, playing Nelson Mandela in one episode, and Muhammad Ali in another.
It made more sense for me for this to come out on Halloween and not Memorial Day. But Netflix never asked me.