Famous people make fun of other famous people
Compare that with the three roasts on this DVD, which celebrate Joe Garagiola, Hank Aaron and Evel Knievel. Though the disc's theme falls apart quickly (with two ballplayers and then a stuntman) the episodes are consistent in feel, as there's a sense that the people on the dais genuinely like each other and the jokes are pointed yet good-natured, allowing for plenty of laughs. Part of it is Martin's easy-going style, but the roasters and the roasters are the reason everyone's having a good time.
Presented in reverse chronological order, the specials show Martin in fine form as the master of ceremonies, kicking things off with a few jokes before handing off to his dais-mates, who pepper the honoree with jokes and light compliments, before he takes the mic to return fire to the best of his abilities (with Garagiola, an announcer, naturally faring best, while Aaron makes his remarks very brief.) The comics, including Gabe Kaplan, Jack Carter, Nipsey Russell, Norm Crosby, Foster Brooks, Don Rickles and Milton Berle hit the best, as expected, but some of the athletes and other participants, like a funny Georgia Engels, get in licks as well (though others are brief or even unheard-from, with Glen Campbell saying little more than his own name in a very odd appearance.) One of the more interesting elements is the presence of Ruth Buzzi, Charlie Callas, Audrey Meadows and others as characters rather than as themselves, having some fun with the idea, as Buzzi does her famous purse-swinger bit, getting in shots on Martin.
Though there are plenty of truly funny bits (and surprisingly few that have dated-out hard) there are some truly unfunny ones as well, with Senator Barry Goldwater falling rather flat and Orson Welles offering a poem so out-of-tune with the rest of the show that you'd assume it was his own little private joke. However, with the rapid-fire pace of the roasters, nothing gets to hang there for too long (with the exception of Brooks' hilarious drunkard routine.) What's hard to miss are the far less politically correct jokes, which StarVista thankfully hasn't removed, noting that it was a different time. It's amazing now to hear people make jokes about Italians and Polish people, but it's rather stunning to hear one comic make a watermelon joke to Aaron, only to have Rickles follow it up with his jive impersonation. Better to know the past than to pretend it never happened.
The audio is presented via Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, and it's fine for what it is. The mix is standard, offering center-balanced sound, and the speakers are easily understood, though the crowd is sometimes much louder than then the roasters. Distortion is not an issue.
Also included on this disc are a pair of sketches from The Dean Martin Show (6:06), from the same night as one of the roasts. "The Bar #17", which pairs Martin with fellow Rat Packer Joey Bishop in a game of imaginary poker, is a great example of space work, and shows the friendship between the two performers, when a bit of improv from Bishop makes Martin crack-up with laughter. The other, "The Patient," which also features Bishop, is a bit more gimmicky, built around a story about Frank Sinatra, but it's amusing anyway, mainly for Martin's dazed delivery.
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