FRIARS CLUB: Let’s get this out of the way, right here at the top. You’ve roasted Donald Trump, twice, and rather eloquently. Now he’s President, and a fellow Friar. How do you feel about him bringing back water-boarding?
JEFF ROSS: I’m okay with water-boarding, but just for pedophiles and comedy club hecklers.
FC: Reasonable… You’re known throughout the world as the “Roastmaster General.” When and how exactly did you achieve this rank? Were you promoted from Roastmaster Colonel?
JR: I earned the title of “Roastmaster General” by Presidential decree many years ago. I ran into the new President recently, down in Palm Beach, and we talked, and I’m up for a cabinet position… “Secretary of Offense.”
FC: You’ll be in very good company! Roasting aside, have you ever sautéd or grilled anyone?
JR: Yes, but only in the privacy of my own bedroom, and never with cameras rolling.
FC: Shame... Someone as funny as you are could easily make that Must-See TV... How did you get involved with the Friars, and why did they accept someone like you as a member?
JR: I joined the club because I was lonely and wasn’t getting enough emails. I love the club. It’s about camaraderie and sharing an occasional sandwich or a plate of chicken chow mein with other whiney comedians. I was also hoping to get a cover story in the Friars Epistle, but I guess your fucking blog will have to do.
FC: The blog is WAY better. This whole internet-thing is bound to catch on... You recently roasted criminals in a maximum security prison in Texas. And soon after, cops, while riding-along through the mean streets of Boston. Would you ever consider rounding out the justice system by roasting attorneys and judges?
JR: Hey, that’s a good idea! Lawyers are very roast-able. But I imagine getting them to sign the necessary release forms will be a challenge. Plus, they’ll probably charge me $250 an hour, even though I’ll be the one working.
FC: $250 would be fairly cheap! You did an NPR interview with Terry Gross which was truly engaging. You spoke about Roasting becoming a movement in places like India, Mexico, and Australia, among others. Is insult comedy a universal art form? Or do you think there are some cultures in the world where it just wouldn’t fly?
JR: Roasting is becoming a worldwide movement. The roasts air in many countries and I even went to South Africa and judged a Roast Battle last year. I imagine that even in oppressed countries that don’t allow free speech there are aspiring comics doing underground roast battles. There is so much sadness in the world right now. I feel like people need to laugh more than ever. I just got back from a weekend gig at the Comedy Crater in Mosul.
FC: Iraq? Wow, that must have been intense. The Friars do a lot for US troops and veterans. When you perform for them, do you have to alter your act at all?
JR: I always adapt well to whatever situation I’m in. Like my regular audience, military crowds are very diverse. A military base in Texas can have a very different feel than a forward operating base in Iraq. I performed a few shows for the troops in Iraq on Christmas Eve and Christmas. They were the greatest audiences. So appreciative. And I got a lot out of it too. We went to four remote bases all over the Sunni Triangle, flying around in C-17’s, C-130’s and Blackhawk helicopters. I’m not really sure where they took me. And I was half asleep the whole time. It was like being on a date with Bill Cosby.
FC: Speaking of disgraced comedians, if you weren’t a comedian yourself, what would you be doing?
JR: If I weren’t a comedian, I’d still be a comedian.
FC: Great answer. You write, as well. Writers often talk about writer’s block. Do comedians ever get joker’s block?
FC: You lie... Out of curiosity, which comedians influenced you the most as a kid?
JR: The Rock Star comedians: Cheech and Chong, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, The Blues Brothers.
FC: Those guys may still be the funniest of all time. So what’s in the creative pipeline for you?
JR: “Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle” returns to Comedy Central January 26 to 29. It’s a bracketed tournament of the funniest young comics from around the country roasting each other. Four nights in a row. The finale is live. We did it last summer and we are doing it again. The judges were Kevin Hart, David Spade, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Anthony Jesilnik and Judd Apatow. It's a very unique show.
FC: Last question. And please, please answer honestly. If you were a pasta noodle, what kind would you be, and why?
JR: I’d be rigatoni. Al détente. As a main course... See ya at the club!