The Roast of Justin Bieber falls in line with the majority of Comedy Central Roasts; sophomoric, offensive and derivative. But if offensive, thin one liners tend to entertain you, there are more than enough delivered by a handful of the talented roasters to keep you entertained thru the glut of questionable participants.
Kevin Hart as the Roastmaster keeps the energy high, with impeccable delivery and infectious good nature as insults are thrown his way. Pete Davidson opens the show strong, showing strong chops honed on a year of SNL. His strong delivery and even weaving of self degradation dampen the abrasiveness of topics such as 9/11 (to which he prefaced with a personal connection).
Technically difficulties in-show are mostly confined to Shaquille O'Neal, who visibly stumbles through jokes read from a teleprompter. Yet, he still charms his way through delivery and, more importantly, as a repeated target of the evening insults.
It is Natasha Leggero and Hannibal Buress that are the evenings weakest comedically, pressing to hard at the insult humor. In Buresses case, his indifferent attitude is brazenly on display. Cut from broadcast is perhaps Buresses most incisive comment from the evening: "They say that you roast the ones you love, but I don't like you at all, man. I'm just here because it's a real good opportunity for me. Actually you should thank me for participating in this extremely transparent attempt to be more likable in the public eye. And I hope it doesn't work." This attitude is reflective in his targeting of Bieber, reflecting a critical commentary that is a detriment to the spirit of a roast. It still delivers as cruelly comedic, but one hopes that Comedy Central recognizes that more than a simple evening edit should be enforced, if to keep any credibility to its series of Roasts. The Friers club attained legendary status roasting celebrities from all walks of life, and to dismiss the roastee in such a blatant and unspecified manner is not making a statement, it's simply unprofessional.
While there are surprise appearances by others during the roast, it is no doubt Martha Stewart's turn at the podium that stunned the most. Her presence at introduction is eyebrow-raising enough, but if it is was she who arrived at this event to change public opinion and be the participator, participate she does. To great effect.
If you like your humor brazen, immediate and irreverent, a Conedy Central roast has what you need. Even in its low points, Beibers roast keeps you chuckling, but it probably won't tomorrow and certainly not in a week.