Published Sep 25, 2018Roastmaster Jeff Ross brought his scathing meanness to the "salad bar," as he called the ivy-adorned splendour of the Winter Garden Theatre, for what was billed as a Roast of Toronto. Ross got there eventually but in his own trademark, laconic manner.
First he ambled about the stage in jeans and a T-shirt and told some stories about celebrity friends, roast subjects and mused about politics. Ross doesn't have anything like a structured hour of standup — he's naturally gregarious and a funny storyteller, enough to carry him through to what he does best, and is best known for.
After about 30 minutes of standup, Ross pulled out the notes he'd made for a roast of Toronto. Thankfully skipping the one every comic visiting the city makes — it'll be so lovely when it's finished — Ross sailed through some clever one-liners about Canadians being arrogantly polite, and generic in most other ways.
The show really hit its stride when he invited some audience members up to be speed-roasted and pretty much the entire front row stood up to volunteer. Ross took them all on, including two men who laughed with their shoulders — like something from Disney's animatronic Hall of Presidents, Ross quipped — in a way that was so unusual, you'd certainly call it unique. Except there were two of them right in front of us.
Doll house architects, a band of meth sellers and users, a woman who was the hot version of a woman standing right beside her, Billy Idol's Hot Topic nephew, and the team working security in the venue all took their shots from Ross with not just good-natured humour, but genuine enthusiasm. It was a feeling Ross shared, because if there's anything the roastmaster respects, it's the ability to laugh at oneself.