Roasts are notorious for testing the boundaries of tasteful comedy, and the upcoming Roast of Justin Bieber is proving to be no different.
Though it won't be airing until March 30th, Comedy Central filmed the Bieber ragfest this week. With Kevin Hart as master of ceremonies, the night was full of famous faces including Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O'Neill, and even Martha Stewart. However, it was the presence of Ludacris, star of new release [Furious 7](movie:264263), that really set off a tirade of controversial jokes. Luda's co-star and close friend was Paul Walker, and it didn't take long for the car accident jokes to be trotted out.
A quick warning: some people may find these jokes humorless and offensive. Please use discretion when reading any further.
Natasha Leggero, a comedian and actress who has appeared on a few Roasts in the past, seems to have started out the trend by saying, "I'm not saying Martha Stewart is old, but she needs a new Walker more than the Fast and Furious franchise."
Jeffrey Ross, a Comedy Central Roast mainstay (seriously, I'm pretty sure he's on every single one of these), kept the ball rolling and definitely upped the ante. Quoting one of Ludacris's hits, he said, "'Move bitch! Get out the way!' That's what Paul Walker should've said to that tree." When some of the audience responded with raucous boos, Ross fired back, "Too soon? Too fast? Too furious? Give me a break, people! I'm trying to save this kid's life."
According to the Hollywood Reporter, at that moment a visibly offended Ludacris signaled for them to stop taping the segment. In response, Ross claims that he was too "in the moment" and couldn't tell which jokes were landing.
Comedy Central, probably judging by the audience's reaction and general measures of good taste, will not be airing any of these jabs. In a statement, they make it clear that they leave this time for editing, ensuring that only a trimmed down cut will make it to broadcast. A Comedy Central spokesman offered the following statement to E! News:
Roasts often push the limits of good taste and we give the participants full reign to try things knowing we have the edit to shape the show. Sometimes the line is discovered by crossing it. The Paul Walker references will not be in the telecast.
Bieber, to his credit, reportedly said that he "didn't like the Paul Walker jokes," either.
I'm all for irreverent comedy and obviously everyone has the right to speak their mind, but let's not forget that Paul Walker's death shockingly occurred under a year and a half ago. It's likely that his friends and family (including Ludacris) are still grieving, and Walker had a tangential connection at best to this Roast. Sure, it's traditional to roast the other comedians at the event, but that doesn't necessarily mean that personal tragedies are the best mining ground for jokes.