It's easy to get nostalgic for those classic Dean Martin TV celebrity roasts. Just watch a Friars Club Roast on Comedy Central. This is not comedy; they are unremittingly vicious. When they announced they were going to roast Charlie Sheen, a disgraceful human being if ever there was one, there was a sense of karmic comeuppance. Then the show aired, and only someone as deranged as Sheen would find it funny.
Sheen is deserving of plenty of verbal head-slaps for his aerobically amoral life with prostitutes, his wife-beating/strangling and his bizarre behavior after being fired by the gutter-level CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men." But this was supposed to be comedic. Instead, it was a merciless bonfire of ferocity. No humanity remained.
The host of this hate-fest was appropriate: Seth MacFarlane, who's done so much to pollute the airwaves on Sunday night with his tasteless, puerile cartoons on Fox. He noted "Two and a Half Men" would air a mock funeral for Sheen's character on the season debut of the sitcom -- and Comedy Central timed its roast to compete with that show. McFarlane said "No need to switch over. You can just wait a couple months and see the real thing."
He then started to read the personal obituary he'd written for Sheen, saying the actor was found dead in his apartment, then stopped: "I just kinda just copied Amy Winehouse's obituary," adding "I only had to change three things: the sex of the deceased, the location of the body, and the part that says 'a talent that will be missed.'"
In case the early death of drug-addled Winehouse in late July wasn't enough grist for giggles, the fameless "comedienne" known as Amy Schumer made fun of the June drunk-driving, car-crash death of MTV reality star Ryan Dunn. Turning to Dunn's friend and fellow MTV star "Steve-O," Schumer cracked, "When Ryan Dunn died, Steve-O probably was thinking it could've been him -- with the rest of the world wondering why it wasn't."
`This wasn't Don Rickles "we kid because we love" stuff. This was acidulous "wish you were dead, not really kidding" material.
But don't feel bad for Steve-O. When it was his turn, he mocked the low-voltage star power of his fellow roasters by joking, "The last time this many nobodies got roasted, at least the band Great White was playing." That refers to the 2003 nightmare at a Rhode Island nightclub when a spray of sparks from the band's pyrotechnics crew ignited foam-soundproofing material in the ceiling. It killed a 100 people.