Jeffrey Ross stirs up controversy with remark at Roast of Roseanne

The comedian appeared dressed as the late Joe Pa and joked about the Aurora shooting

WRITTEN BY: Scott Hixson
Image Source: The Comedy Store via Flickr
Jeffrey Ross

Jeffrey Ross has appeared at numerous celebrity roasts over the years and now his form of shock-comedy has drawn criticism and forced Comedy Central to cut one of his jokes from the final broadcast.

Jeffrey Ross, while appearing at the Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr, made an ill-timed joke comparing comedian Seth Green to the accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes.

“Seth, congratulations. This is actually a great night for you,” Jeffrey Ross joked. “You haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora. … I’m kidding. You are not like [accused shooter] James Holmes. At least he did something in a movie theater that people will remember!”

According to a report Monday from NBC, guests responded the Ross’s joke with “an audible gasp, followed by awkward applause.”

Jeffrey Ross later admitted his joke “crossed the line,” but defended it as well. “That is what the roasts are about,” Jeffrey Ross said of the shock-value spirit that permeates each and every roast. “That’s what Roseanne is about – unapologetic comedy. If I held back, I would have done her a disservice.”

“I think that this particular roast – in these particular times we are in – it is important to exercise freedom of speech,” Ross continued. “Comedians are apologizing a lot. I am not saying that is right or wrong. But it scares me when I start second-guessing myself. So I wanted to put it out there and remind people what America is about – and on some level, what the roasts are about.”

In an interview with The Huffington Post in February, Jeffrey Ross spoke of an obligation “to not hold back.”

“Do you want me to apologize after every joke?” Ross said. “If it doesn’t offend somebody it’s probably not a joke. It’s probably an observation that’s not funny. It’s gotta offend somebody somewhere.”

Roseanne Barr commented on Ross’s joke after the taping, saying that it “crossed the line.” Barr continued, “But comedy is about moving the line … And where is the line in a country that has freedom of speech? Maybe there isn’t one.”

Jeffrey Ross also received mixed reactions when he appeared on the red carpet dressed as Joe Paterno, accompanied by two young men clad in nothing but football helmets and towels.

According to Comedy Central producer Jonas Larsen, Jeffrey Ross’ joke about the Aurora shooting will be censored from the show’s official broadcast on Aug. 12 due to widespread criticism.

Just one week after the Aurora shooting, Dane Cook joked, “So I heard that the guy came into the theater about 25 minutes into the movie. And I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but the movie is pretty much a piece of crap… Yeah, spoiler alert. And I know that if none of that would have happened, I’m pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing it was a piece of crap, probably was like, ‘Ugh f-king shoot me.’”

Cook took to Twitter the next day to apologize for his “bad judgment call.”

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