Jeff Ross hits the stage at Carolines Comedy Club this weekend, and "The Roastmaster General" riffed on everything from Trump to his dream roastee in our latest chat with him.
You must love the energy everytime you hit the stage in NYC, no?
JEFF ROSS: I thrive in it. I need it sometimes. I come in weeks earlier just to download all the latest tastes, sounds, and people. I long for the energy when I’m gone.
So what are you riffing on these days?
JR: When I was starting out, everyone was doing a bit on airplane food. Donald Trump is the modern day airplane food for comics. He permeates everything comedians say or do, whether we mention him by name or not. He’s a part of it all, whether it’s immigration, the #MeToo movement, patriotism, or football, ya know? Trump is coloring all that, all that in a light shade of orange.
Were you surprised that Trump was game for the Comedy Central roast you did with him?
JR: Oh yeah, because by then I had already roasted him before at the Friar’s Club years earlier. I’d been on his plane down to Mar-a-Lago with him and done for the members down there. So I already knew he had a sense of humor and loved comedy. He was in show business. He was a big reality star. We all knew he got stuff done in New York. He was an obvious choice to roast, not an obvious choice for president. [Laughs]
If you could nab anyone for a roast, who would your dream roastee be?
JR: Kim Jong Un would be a good roast, but I say I only roast the ones I love and that’s when it gets tricky. We have a few ideas.
The best jokes for you do what?
JR: Part of it is that laughing at our pain. I think if we don’t laugh, we’re put to tears. The tension is out there. Whether it gets to a truth or not, or it’s what I do—roasting people like Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly, some of these characters in the news—I feel like comedy is a pressure relief, and I think you can’t get always get to the truth in life, you can only sometimes laugh at the scary parts.
When you were coming up, was there this hunger to meet the best?
JR: No, I avoided my heroes because I always thought it would be disappointing. I remember seeing Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner at the movies once when I was starting out, and my buddy wanted to run over and say hello. And I said, “Nope. I’m not going.” I wanted to meet them on a more even playing field one day and, through Sid Caesar, I did get to know those guys. You always hear that saying about meeting your heroes and I didn’t want to bother anybody.
JR: I’m going to conquer Caroline’s and I have a few more special ideas, and some roast battles I’m working on right now. I think stand up is king right now and I’m really enjoying the process of working on jokes and presenting them in clubs for people to hear.
For tickets to Jeff Ross' upcoming performance at Carolines Comedy Club, vist carolines.com.
Photography by: Photography courtesy Jeff Ross