William Shatner, on the other hand, takes the extreme criticism in stride. He's a good sport all through this roast - some of the jokes are truly brutal, ranging from verbal jabs at his alleged hairpiece to his singing career and of course his infamous acting chops. Shatner's good humor surrounding the entire ordeal elevates this program - because I'm sure I would have felt less content to laugh along with all the jokes if Shatner had thrown a Chevy Chase and been a jerk about it.
This isn't quite as good as last year's Pamela Anderson roast, I must say. Overall the jokes are tamer (excluding some crude references to a gay "Star Trek" castmember and his private activities, so to speak) - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I felt as though a lot of the dirtier stuff had been cut out. This doesn't bother me as much as the fact that the cuts were made fairly obvious. No doubt Comedy Central will feature some type of "Uncut" DVD in the future with bonus material "too raunchy for television."
Plus, I absolutely HATED the fact that they cut numerous roasters' speeches short. I understand there were time constraints, but the first one who should have been axed was Farrah Fawcett, whose speech was absolutely horrid. Apparently trying to make fun of her notorious Letterman appearance from a few years back, it quickly dissolved into another case of a joke falling victim to its own subject - she was wasted out of her mind! She completely messed up her jokes, kept turning away from the microphone (making it hard to hear what she was saying), and just generally ruined the vibe of the entire thing. The audience members (including Carrie Fisher, who gets stabbed with jokes a few times linked to her weight gain) were straining to laugh.
Instead, I would have FAR preferred to see comedy genius Fred Willard's speech. They decided to cut it short and give us probably less than a minute or so of what he actually said when the show was recorded last week. Willard is such a fine, dry comedian - chances are his jokes just weren't understood by the editors of this show, who are obviously in favor of the more obvious, deliberately crude material.
Basically the whole thing about the gay Star Trek member was funny the first few dozen times, but it's akin to Pam Anderson's boob jokes from last year getting old - enough is enough. Not that I'm complaining, but Andy Dick and Kevin Pollak were also cut short (I could go without hearing Dick's entire routine, I admit) - and the editing is more choppy than last year's roast, resulting in noticeable skips - as if the editors selected the "best" of each roaster and spliced it together.
But these flaws aside, the show WAS very funny. I laughed my head off when Ben Stiller appeared in a pre-recorded roast to Shatner. Unexpected and hilarious, Stiller's was one of my favorite segments of the entire program! Jason Alexander was a surprisingly good host, although he seemed a bit hesitative and unsure at times. Overall I think I preferred Kimmel's more cynical presentation from last year's, but again, it's a minor complaint.
Overall if you're a fan of these roasts you'll love this. There are some great moments such as the Shatner music flashbacks - including video pieces from his infamous "Rocket Man" performance from years ago. Shatner takes it all in stride and comes across as a really nice, likable guy - even after all is said and done he gets up and delivers a tongue-in-cheek roast to himself.
This may not be quite as unexpected, irreverent or downright hilarious as the Pamela Anderson roast, but just barely. My only complaints, as I mentioned above, were the editing choices, really - apart from that, it was another job well done on Comedy Central's behalf! As an aside, I'd really love to see "The Roast of David Hasselhoff" next year. NO ONE deserves a roast as much as this guy does. So I'll have my fingers crossed for the next year, I suppose.