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From the editor and writers of Bright Lights Film Journal
Action! Interviews with Directors from Classical Hollywood to Contemporary Iran
(Anthem Art and Culture), by Gary Morris (Editor), Bert Cardullo (Introduction), Jonathan Rosenbaum (Foreword). London and New York: Anthem Press, 2009.
"I dare anyone to squeeze between two covers a more varied, useful and flat out entertaining sampling of the personalities that make the seventh art the liveliest."
David Hudson, IFC.com
Charo and Pamela Anderson
Finding the Funny, One Dick Joke at a Time
Comedy Central's Pam Anderson Roast on DVD
Enough engorged vagina jokes to feed a family of four for an entire year!
Some pleasures — a blow job from Angelina Jolie, for example1 — lie permanently out of reach, but others are close at hand. A case in point is the Comedy Central Pam Anderson Roast, now available uncensored on DVD.
The origins of the comedy roast lie hidden in the mists of time, and I intend to leave them there. It was Pauline Kael (of course) who had the first and last word on roasts, noting the vicious race to the bottom, the competition among the assembled comics to come up with the worst, sickest, foulest gag and the most hidden, the most forbidden, the most hurtful revelation. The atmosphere at such events tends to be further curdled by the need of the promoters to obtain as many "names" as possible, guaranteeing a collection of desperate has-beens, in various states of mental, physical, and moral disrepair. If you want to hear Brett Butler cracking wise over how drugs destroyed her career, a comedy roast is likely the place to go.
Fortunately, the good folks at Comedy Central have found a way around this appalling impasse, or perhaps a shortcut to its depths. Hire young, hungry comics whose angst and self-loathing remains hidden behind healthy flesh and rich California tans. The best of the breed — or, rather, the only one I've seen — is the "uncensored"2 version of the Pam Anderson roast broadcast back in 2005.
It's hard to imagine a riper target for comic gags than Pam, whose self-caricaturing persona was pushed beyond self-parody by the release of the famous Pam n' Tommy sex tapes, featuring hung Tommy and overhung Pam flagrantly in flagrante. Fortunately, Pam is still in great shape, and the relentless gags hurled by assembled wise guys and gals Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carola, Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli, et al., simply bounce off her impenetrable and insuperable bosom. Also along for the ride, and the source of half the fun, is Pam's gal pal Courtney Love, fresh out of detox and ready to rhumba. Because what's funnier than heroin addiction?
If you don't watch Comedy Central regularly — and I don't — watching this roast is a bit like crashing someone else's party. Jimmy the K seems to be the franchise at CC — without him there's no show. Adam's3 his best bud and Sarah's his main squeeze. Other regulars include Nick DiPaolo and Greg Giraldo. Bea Arthur, frequently accused of having a penis, serves as den mother, while Andy Dick is the little gay kid everyone makes fun of. Because what's funnier than harassing gays?
The roux is further thickened by the presence of wife-beatin', salami-swingin' ex-husband Tommy Lee (right). If that still isn't enough show, Anna "I fucked a 90-year-old man" Nicole Smith is in the audience.4
With this crew, the pussy jokes flow like wine, and the minutes fly by all too fast, while we in the audience get a ringside glimpse at life as it's lived by B-list celebrities. Fame, money, sex, drugs, and booze! What's not to like?
Afterwords
As an extra, the DVD features behind-the-scenes clips, not terribly interesting except for an exchange between twelve-steppers Andy Dick and Courtney Love on their least favorite step. 5
Many of the comics featured here have concert DVDs on the market, but the few that I've seen verge on the unwatchable. Most comics simply don't have much range. How funny is it to watch Lisa Lampanelli accuse her audience of being whores for an hour, or Sarah Silverman say "doody"6 for ninety minutes?
Notes

1. Yeah, but can you imagine those lips (right) around your dick! The thought alone is gold!

2. "Uncensored" is not precisely le mot juste. A snide remark by Lisa Lampanelli, vaguely at the expense of Diet Coke, gets bleeped. I guess CC just couldn't handle the pressure from the folks at the pause that refreshes.

3. Jimmy and Adam first hit it big with The Man Show, which probably should have been called The Thirteen-Year-Old Boy Show, because if I had seen it when I was thirteen I would have loved it.

4. So is seventies sex-bomb Charo, but no one gives a damn.

5. Not surprisingly, Courtney (right) had some problems with that higher power shit.

6. Or is it "dooty"? I'm not sure.

August 2006 | Issue 53

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