The 10 Best Celebrity Roasts of All-Time

Charlie Sheen

From time to time, when a celebrity has made such an impression as one of the top contributors to either the entertainment industry, or the world of professional sports, or simply as a public figure, there is the odd occasion a host of other celebrities come together to televise a celebrity roast to put their chosen victim, so to speak, on the spot. For the most part, it’s an opportunity to make fun of a celebrity they personally know, either as a friend or a colleague. However, all kidding aside, it’s also an opportunity for each of these celebrities to honor someone whom they’re close enough to where all the banter, ribs, and jokes are all in good fun. Some of the televised celebrity roast programs stand out more so than others, usually because of the cast within the lineup, as well as the subject of their roasts, best illustrate what star quality is all about. The best celebrity roasts are usually performed by a group who don’t try so hard to be funny as it simply comes naturally for them. There are some celebrities that would rather say a heartfelt thanks as opposed to taking comedic shots, as not everybody in the cast is in on the roast as a means to pick on their buddy. Sometimes, the best celebrity roasts aren’t the cheap shots delivered, but rather the heartfelt thank-yous from people who recognize a true friend in their life when they have one.

There are ten standout celebrity roasts worthy of mention, which are counted down for the unique class level each of them provided, not simply to entertain the audience who watch, but a selected group of individuals who all share a common friend they can gang up on and see what will get dished back at them when the main star of the show gets their turn. The original concept behind celebrity roasts began on The Dean Martin Show where its popularity became so great that even after his show was canceled in 1973, the odd celebrity roasting hour would make a special appearance on network television. At one point, his show had segments called “Man of the Week Celebrity Hosts.” The popularity of this peaked where it was no longer Hollywood stars wanting in on the fun, but politicians, professional athletes, and musical artists. With so many celebrities, plus so much material to work with, it’s understandable why it became so popular and why there would be some that would stand out among the others.

10. Bob Hope


Despite The Dean Martin Show officially becoming canceled, the popularity of the celebrity roasts was so great that these continued as its own show until 1984. The first of these independently aired celebrity roasts saw comedic genius, Bob Hope, as the first person to get thrown into the hot seat while the big names of that time each took their best shots at him. At a time where there was no such thing as offensive comedy, the best in the business hurled as much mud as they could at Hope until it was his time to hurl back. Bob Hope is considered a comedic genius for a reason. When his time came back to dish out what was thrown at him, it’s safe to say the entire guest list was every bit as roasted as he was. The names that all shared in taking on Bob Hope were Flip Wilson, James Stewart, Howard Cosell, Jack Benny, Omar N. Bradley, Phyllis Diller, Milton Berle, Neil Armstrong, Rich Little, Ginger Rogers, Billy Graham, Johnny Bench, Foster Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Nipsey Russell, and Don Rickles. Dean Martin, as host, also doubled as the roastmaster for each celebrity roast he took part in until 1984.

9. Richard Pryor


In 1977, Richard Pryor was the subject of many roasters who took turns, jabbing away at the iconic comedian. When the host, Paul Mooney, sets the tone by teasing about his prolific lifestyle, it was a hard act to follow. However, Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, Shirley Hemphill, LaWanda Page, Tim Reid, Edie McClurg, Peter Cullen, and Marsha Warfield did their best. This roast was put together by his fellow castmates from that show upon learning The Richard Pryor Show was coming to a close as neither he nor the network could come to an agreement to keep the show going. This resulted in the NBC network taking Pryor’s show off the air before the celebrity roasting episode could be aired. Since it’s been found, it has been streaming on sites like YouTube. What made this episode a classic was Pryor taking notes so when it was his turn, he paid each of his castmates with burning comments of his own.

8. James Franco


In 2013, James Franco found himself on the receiving end of some roasts for a change as roastmaster Seth Rogan felt it was a well-deserved honor. The cast of fellow roasters included Jeffrey Ross, Aziz Ansari, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Nick Kroll, Natasha Leggero, Sarah Silverman, Yuval David, Stephen Merchant, SuChin Pak, Busy Philipps, Rob Simmons, Blake Anderson, Jilian Bell, and Adam Devine. Anderson, Bell, and Devine were actually in the audience who got in on the act.

7. David Hasselhoff


The former Baywatch and Knight Rider actor, David Hasselhoff, found himself on the roasting spit when roastmaster Seth MacFarlane decided what a nice idea to take on the big guy in 2010. Fellow roasters, Whitney Cummings, Jeffrey Ross, Jerry Springer, Greg Giraldo, George Hamilton, Hulk Hogan, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, Pamela Anderson, Traci Bingham, Russell Brand, Gary Coleman, William Daniels, Nicole Eggert, Norm MacDonald, and Anne McDaniels each take their turn at Hasselhoff. The highlight of the show was Giraldo’s stellar performance, which was his last before passing away from an accidental drug overdose later in the same year.

6. Bob Saget


From Full House fame, as well as World’s Funniest Videos, Bob Saget found himself on the receiving end of the celebrity roast-fest when roastmaster, John Stamos put him on the roaster spit in 2008. Jeffrey Ross, Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin, Greg Giraldo, Gilbert Gottfried, Cloris Leachman, Jon Lovitz, Norm MacDonald, Jim Norton, Brian Posehn, Sarah Silverman, Tony Besson, and Yuval David each took their turn at Saget. Archived footage from one of the greatest roasters of all time, Don Rickles, as well as Lewis Black was also featured in the televised roasting special.

5. Charlie Sheen


In 2011, when celebrities took it upon themselves to gang up on Charlie Sheen to roast him in front of the camera, they spared no effort to let him have it. Seth MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, Jeffrey Ross, Anthony Jeselnik, Jon Lovitz, Patrice O’Neal, William Shatner, Steve-O, Mike Tyson, Amy Schumer, Melorine Adler, Blake Anderson, Jackie Becker, Sierra Collins, Yuval David, Adam Devine, and Stephen Kramer Glickman. Between the antics of Jeff Ross dressing up like Muammar Gaddafi and seemingly out of control Anthony Jeselnik, many still wonder how the man of the hour was able to survive the ordeal without throwing a punch. However, revenge is bliss when the methodical Charlie Sheen does what he does best, which is to befuddle and frustrate those who started the fight first.

4. Carroll O’Connor


When he played the role of ultra-conservative Archie Bunker on All in the Family from 1968 until 1979, then Archie Bunker’s Place from 1979 until 1983, his character became the official king of being politically incorrect. It seemed inevitable during the 1970s that the actor, Carroll O’Connor would find himself on the receiving end by a number of celebrities who were chomping at the bit to fry up some classic roasts aimed straight at him. First aired on December 7, 1973, Dean Martin did not disappoint. The roasters of the evening that took their turn firing up plates of mean were Dan Rowan, Gene Kelly, Don Rickles, Mike Connors, Marty Allen, Nipsey Russell, Foster Brooks, William Conrad, Dick Martin, Joey Bishop, Robert D. Wood, Redd Foxx, Cass Elliot, Norm Crosby, Ruth Buzzi, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

3. Don Rickles


For Don Rickles, nothing was deemed off-limits when it came to roasting anybody and everybody that caught his attention. On the February 8, 1974, episode, Dean Martin arranged a celebrity roast with Don Rickles as the target of the night. Of all the roasts ever to air, the witty comebacks from the mighty Rickles as he shot back against the collection of celebrities that each took their turn roasting him, are still considered epic to this day. He proved, yet again, why he rightfully earned the title “Merchant of Venom.” The roasters of the evening were Dan Rowan, Jack Klugman, Dick Martin, Joey Bishop, Cliff Robertson, Lorne Greene, Telly Savalas, Rich Little, Bob Newhart, Foster Brooks, Nipsey Russell, Pat Henry, Charlie Callas, Eugene Cernan, Carol Channing, Phyllis Diller, Kirk Douglas, and Casey Kasem. After each of them took their turn jabbing away at Don Rickles, they were reminded why he is the king of celebrity roasters.

2. Bette Davis


One of the highest-rated celebrity roasts of all time saw a woman sitting in the hot seat, namely the iconic Bette Davis. In an epic display of fiery comedy at its best, the airing of the October 19, 1973 episode on the Dean Martin Show saw Howard Cosell, Kay Medford, Vincent Price, Army Archerd, Patt Buttram, Henry Fonda, Joyce Haber, Barbara Heller, Nipsey Russell, Susan Buckner, Tom T. Hall, Sandy Herdt, Ken Lane, Deborah Pratt, and Jeannie C. Riley. The epic delivery of Vincent Price roasting Bette Davis still remains as one of the best comedic pieces ever aired on the celebrity roast. There is a reason why this episode is rated a 9.5 out of 10 on IMDb.

1. Dean Martin


The king of celebrity roasts, Dean Martin, was the man that started it all in 1964 when The Dean Martin Show was on the air. Even after the show was canceled, the television audience loved the celebrity roasts so much that they continued as specials. When fate had it the host of so many roasts was now the official man of the hour, host Don Rickles held nothing back when he proved yet again why he is the master of mean when it comes to literally roasting his victims where there could be the potential need for psychiatric care. When Dean Martin hosted the celebrity hosts since the beginning, he did more than host. He also did some of the roasting antics himself. What is it they say about paybacks?

Celebrity Roast History

The first generation of celebrity roasts began with Dean Martin in 1973 and its popularity was immense. Until 1984, Martin served as the host, as well as the roastmaster. After Martin, additional roastmasters surfaced as the temptation to get caught up in what seems like scathing rounds of cheap shots and low blows. While there has been footage where some celebrities took their material a bit too far, others really knew how to get away with just about anything. There are many celebrity roasts that also deserve mention, including the final Dean Martin Celebrity Roast special that aired in 1984 when Michael Landon became the chosen man of the hour. The ladies were not immune from a good roasting either, but the one with Bette Davis was the highest-rated celebrity roast episode of all time. Other notable ladies that found themselves being roasted, only to roast back in return, are the legendary Lucille Ball, Betty White, Suzanne Somers, Valerie Harper, and Angie Dickenson. Furthermore, celebrities that were not actors also found themselves set up as lambs for slaughter that include Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Evel Knievel. The second generation, so to speak, picked up where Dean Martin and his crazy gang left off. Now as Comedy Central Roasts, the celebrities have continued. For as long as roastees and roasters can take a joke as well as they dish it out, it seems celebrity roasts are here to stay.

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