This one is strictly for diehard fans of the American/Irish comedian. It is a roast, which involves a lot of your industry mates getting onstage and doing little skits about you and what you mean to them. It is a typically North American event where entertainment figures get routinely “roasted”, the implication being they can take in good humour.
This tradition dates back to the 1920, although on TV it is Comedy Central, producer of this broadcast, that has built an impressive roster of actors who have been roasted, among them Chevy Chase, Rob Reiner, Pamela Anderson, Joan Rivers, Gene Simmons.
Hence, the whole experience does not get a lot of comedy gold from Leary, apart from the odd clip that you will have already seen elsewhere and a 10-minute monologue at the end. Leary holds court on stage in a theatre hall surrounded by his comedian mates, and, bizarrely, sitting right next to Elizabeth Hurley and her husband. Huh?
What you get is a lot of US comedians, most of them unknown to terrestrial viewers in the UK, who come to pay tribute to Leary by mercilessly taking the piss out of him, and sometimes out of each other. This means we see a lot of talent talk for 2-3 minutes and leaving the stage to the next one. Some colleagues send in clips (amongst others Christopher Walken, Joe Mantegna, Peter Gallagher, Jon Stewart, Rene Russo wearing a strap-on dildo, and his own dog – yes, you read correctly!) and all present plus Liz Hurley’s cleavage seem to have uproarious fun.
When they have all had a go, it’s Leary’s turn to get on the mike. I, personally, hoped he was going to do one of his stand-up routines, but all he did was have a go at those who had just had a pop at him. All in the best possible spirit, of course.
Since there were a lot of in-jokes and references to US programmes, we can only guess what it was all about. Also, this was first broadcast in 2003, so you’d have to cast your mind back a few years to get some of the references to TV shows.
Among the faces we will be familiar with are Gina Gershon, Mario Cantone (who was in Sex And The City), Lenny Clarke and Dr Dre.
It is a funny, but somehow pointless, homage to Leary and his career, which gets impressively lampooned and derided by anyone who takes the mike. Leary is not retiring, this did not mark an anniversary or a significant birthday, and it leaves me not knowing what the point of the show was.
This is all in the spirit of Saturday Night Live, there’s a lot of back-slapping and self-congratulatory moments, which gives it the overall feel of an awards ceremony. A cover version of Leary’s 1993 song Asshole closes the show after less than an hour.
Extras include a couple of red carpet interviews, an American Idol parody and uncut excerpts from the tribute.
Comedy Central: Roast Of Denis Leary will be released on February 1 and can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.