By Robin Bronk - 11/02/10 12:21 AM EDT
Comedian Jeff Ross’s first book, I Only Roast the Ones I Love: Busting Balls Without Burning Bridges, recently came out in paperback. Known by fans as The Roastmaster General, Jeff Ross is feared and revered for his show-stopping appearances on Comedy Central’s popular celebrity-roast series. Called “an heir apparent to such old-school masters as Buddy Hackett and Rodney Dangerfield” by The New York Times, Ross has uproariously honored many of America’s most beloved stars, including Pam Anderson, William Shatner, Hugh Hefner, Drew Carey, Bob Saget, Joan Rivers, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump and David Hasselhoff. Ross also directed an award-winning documentary about his experience entertaining U.S. troops in Iraq, titled “Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie.”
ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him?
JEFFREY ROSS: If I had five minutes with the president, I’d ask him why the hell he’s wasting his time talking to me, then I’d run out of the room. He should be using all his free time to bring home the troops, lower unemployment, save the environment and prepare for his next shot on “The View.”
RB: What is the one piece of advice you’d give the president?
JR: I’d strongly advise him to let me roast him on national television just before the next national election. What could possibly be a more effective way to prove Sarah Palin was wrong about his cojones and show voters that he has thick skin and is proud of his record? Plus, in my opinion, there is no higher honor you can pay someone than to write a well-crafted insult — or backhanded compliment — in their honor.
Sample joke: Have you noticed how gray the president has gotten lately? And that’s just his stance on the Ground Zero Mosque.
RB: If you could ask the president one question, what would it be?
JR: I’d ask him, in this depressed economy, and with so much else to worry about, if he’s still determined to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Yes, I understand the prison’s sordid history. Yes, I understand tearing it down would be a symbolic gesture in the right direction. But it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. So I wonder [if] another, more cost-effective and equally symbolic gesture would be for him to go down there personally and deliver a worldwide address declaring new and transparent policies for the inmates there. Instead of knocking it down, let the world know that Gitmo is now on the up-and-up.
I once traveled to Guantanamo Bay to entertain the sailors and Marines stationed there. The over-100-year-old base features a McDonald’s, Starbucks and waterskiing on the weekends. Parts of the base are very scenic, and the people working there are not the evil torturers the world may think they are. Rather, they are a diverse and hardworking group doing a phenomenal job under intense circumstances. Not to mention that this high-tech prison complex cost us taxpayers over $200 million just to build. I believe leveraging the president’s appeal in the Muslim world for the purpose of effectively changing Guantanamo Bay’s image from a place of torture to a symbol of American justice would not only allow us to continue monetizing our enormous investment there, but would also spare us the anxiety of bringing all those prisoners of war to our mainland. Anyway, that’s just one comic’s opinion.
RB: Would you ever consider going into politics?
JR: Yes, I would absolutely consider a political career, but not in a democracy. I could never deal with the checks, let alone the balances. However, I do believe I would make a great dictator. I’m a quick decisionmaker, benevolent by nature and adore gold furniture. Plus I’ve always wanted a good excuse to grow a goatee. So if anybody out there knows of a fledgling regime in need of some new blood, please e-mail me at Jeff@Roastmastergeneral.com. I’m especially interested in emerging nations with a warm climate and discreet plural-marriage laws. Have jokes, will travel.
Bronk is a seasoned Capitol Hill strategist and advocate. She started her career at The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group for the arts and entertainment industry, in July 1998. During her tenure as CEO, Bronk has taken The Creative Coalition from a New York-based entity to a national organization. www.thecreativecoalition.org