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by Mallory McKnight COMEDY

At The B.O.B. Grand Rapids, MI 616.356.2000




JESSE JOYCE August 11 - 13


HE TRADITION OF EVISCERATING an anointed celebrity at The Friar’s Club roasts remains one of comedy’s most cherished institutions. Out of respect, the good-natured ripping apart of everyone from Frank Sinatra to Lucille Ball is the ultimate show business gesture of good faith.

When Comedy Central began hosting its own roasts in addition

to airing the Friar’s Club roasts, the comedy went to an all-together different, darker and hilariously dirty place. Comedian and writer Jesse Joyce revels in a perfectly crafted, wince-inducing punch line as it hits home hard enough to bruise. “It kind of lets you flex your mus-

JESSE JOYCE Dr. Grins, Grand Rapids August 11-13, show times at 8, 9 and 10:30 p.m. $5-12, (616) 356-2000

cles,” Joyce said. “It’s really an exercise in coming up with the darkest, meanest s**t you can possibly think of.” As painful as the ritual humiliation

can be to watch, Joyce says the act of roasting a person comes from the great- est of comedy traditions: the act of dishing it out and having it shoved right

back in your face. The comedic sparring is, after all, all in good fun. “It’s not like we’re going into David Hasselhoff ’s bedroom and

saying awful s**t about him being a terrible drunk while he lies in bed hung over,” he said. The Comedy Central era of roasting has seen

the stature of the honorees change from golden age stars like Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr. to more dubiously beloved stars like Larry the Cable Guy, Flava Flav and the recently an- nounced Charlie Sheen. Joyce, however, doesn’t really see that much of a difference between the Friar’s Club celebrities of yesteryear and Comedy Central’s targets. “When you really think about it, what’s the

huge difference between Dean Martin, drunk and bloated at 50, and someone like David Hasselhoff?” he said. “I might be the first person to make that comparison — outside of Germany.” All roast victims have the opportunity for

Jesse Joyce

roast sets. He recently hosted events in New York City and Los Angeles to benefit Giraldo’s three kids, to whom Joyce is very close. “He was like my older brother,” he said. Even after his death, Joyce says he still hasn’t stopped learning from

“[Roasting] kind of lets you flex your muscles. It’s really an exercise in coming up with the darkest, meanest s**t you can


August 25 - 27 46 | REVUEWM.COM | AUGUST 2011

a rebuttal at the end of the night. While it gets vicious during their all-out comedic cage matches, Joyce says the goal is shock, not outright villainy. The biggest shock line of the night always gener- ates the biggest laugh. The Roast experience changed profoundly for James during the last

year. In late September, Joyce lost dear friend and mentor Greg Giraldo, a comedy star who died of an overdose. Joyce credits Giraldo with kick-starting his stand-up and writing career. The two toured together and Joyce wrote many of the jokes that appeared in Giraldo’s infamous

Giraldo. They shared more than a sarcastic sensibility. As both men were in the process of getting and staying sober, Joyce said he figured they would be a good influence on one another. Still sober six years down the road, Joyce said Giraldo’s death made a lasting impact on him. “Watching him struggle with his sobriety

was a valuable lesson to me, in a dark and unfortunate way,” he said. Living through the experience of losing

Giraldo makes him grateful for all the nights he can remember and the normality it brings to the experience of being on the road. Being present for his stand-up sets, phone conversations with his wife and discussions of their dog’s latest tiny outfit makes it all worth it, he said. “I couldn’t fit drinking back into my life

possibly think of.” —JESSE JOYCE

now if I tried,” Joyce said. The increased insight granted by this year’s

loss just reaffirms his love for the art of stand-up. With a film playing the festival circuit, Stags, and a full stand-up tour schedule that includes a stop at Dr. Grins, Joyce finds his wordy, sarcastic

comedy making a mark on the community he so proudly saw come together following the death of his friend and mentor. There’s love in them, even as they insult each other to the point of drawing blood for the general public’s amusement during a Roast. “That’s the cool, magical thing about what we do.” n



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