Comedy Central has taken over the task of broadcasting the latest incarnation of celebrity roasts, first made famous by Dean Martin and NBC in the 1970s. Celebrity roasts have become a tradition in entertainment, allowing us to see famous people elevated and teased in the oft alcohol-fueled comedy show. This six-disc set includes twelve of the most iconic roasts, featuring a historic collection of comedians and performers who join Martin in an evening of laughter and lush behavior.
Nobody knew how to drink like Dean Martin, no doubt the greatest source of humor for the first celebrity roasts in 1973. Even when Martin is the host and not being roasted, there are plenty of excuses for the guests to poke fun at the excessive alcohol consumption by Dino. Created as a sort-of spin-off in the final season of “The Dean Martin Show,” the celebrity roasts became a regular special that Martin hosted until 1984, making a total of 54 roasts.
There may have been plenty of material within the 54 roasts to pick for this collection, but each of the twelve chosen here have reasons for being included. The names are beyond celebrity, each legends in their own right. The “Man/Woman of the Week” collection includes Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Kirk Douglas, Michael Landon, Jackie Gleason, Don Rickles, Joan Collins and Martin himself. If the subject of the roast is not enough, each also comes with a plethora of hysterical guests to throw the loving jabs at the celebrated.
Humor abounds even when the subject is too nice to find too many ways to make fun of, as was the case with Jimmy Stewart. They repeatedly tease him for being so nice, which is exactly what you would expect from his persona. At the same time, there are other moments where celebrity guests are seen in a different light. Muhammad Ali shows up throw some verbal jabs along with other unlikely celebrities such as John Wayne, Bette Davis and Florence Henderson. Don Rickles is also a regular guest, and would eventually go on to replace Martin as the host.
The Collector’s Edition DVD release includes all twelve roast specials on six discs, along with a handful of unique special features. There are many bonus comedy sketches with Martin and cohorts, as well as two rare Dean Martin TV specials. There is also some home video footage of the swingin’ lifestyles of Martin and friends, interviews with many of the icons in the set, and three featurettes about the iconic roasts.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 9/10
Disc Features: 8.5/10