Comic Jeffrey Ross talks Charlie Sheen, about how he became America’s No. 1 roaster, and his new speed-roasting concept, which he’ll bring to the Borgata.
ATLANTIC CITY — When New Jersey native Jeffrey Ross made a special, unannounced appearance during Charlie Sheen’s Violent Torpedo of Truth tour stop at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City this past April, he wasn’t there to promote this Friday’s (June 3) stand-up comedy gig at the Borgata.
He was there — appearing during the first third of the show (in a hazmat outfit; more on that later) and staying until the end of the event — to save the troubled Sheen.
“You probably didn’t buy a ticket, you probably got a ticket,” Ross, 45, tells Atlantic City Weekly during a recent phone call from California. “But I felt bad for all of the people who were buying tickets and not getting a show [in other cities]. I was reading the reviews and it was just killing me that people weren’t feeling like they were getting their money’s worth. I just felt like it was my duty as a Jerseyan to step in.”
What really happened, Ross explains, is that he got a call from Sheen the night before the April 16 show in Atlantic City.
“He called me the night before and said there was a 6am flight to Philly and I could make it to A.C.,” says Ross. “And I said I need to know that I can say whatever I want. [He said 'OK'] and that’s what I did. And I got on the plane from L.A. and I wrote jokes all night. It was pretty crazy; it was an adventure.
“I said, ‘Charlie, all I want is a podium and a hazmat suit.’”
The hazmat suit would serve as a double entendre for Ross as he made his way onto the stage at the Mark Etess Arena at the Taj. Relating both to the stink-bomb that Sheen’s seemingly unorganized and quickly arranged tour had become, as well as the recent nuclear facility tragedy in Japan, Ross, with one of the first bullets fired at Sheen of the evening, told the troubled actor: “You’re about as wanted in Los Angeles right now as Japanese spinach.”
The teasing shot was the first of many that night as Sheen, sitting in a chair or pacing on the stage, took the lobs of roast-worthy abuse that Ross threw at him during the show — which turned out to be the best and longest stop on Sheen’s exploitative tour yet.
Sheen got it. Ross, after all, is the official “Roastmaster General” of the New York Friars’ Club, earning the title (which is also the URL of his official Web site) after getting known for his hilarious and often vicious roasting of celebrities — such as Pam Anderson, David Hasselhoff, Flavor Flav, and most recently Donald Trump — for roast specials on Comedy Central. He has also roasted a slew of other celebs at other events, including Hugh Hefner, Emmitt Smith, Drew Carey and Jerry Stiller.
“I don’t think he knew how hard it would be, but I didn’t give him much choice,” says Ross about Sheen. “[But] he took it extremely well and he had me do it seven more times.”
On stage that night at the Taj, Sheen, after experiencing his best show of the tour, with only a few people asking for refunds — a much better ratio than in previous towns such as Detroit and Chicago — asked Ross to join him for his next casino show, the following night in Connecticut.
“That was pretty surreal,” Ross remembers. “But I was already there on the East Coast, and I did it. And I got meaner every night, using new jokes every night. It was like a snowball effect.”
Ross would join Sheen for several subsequent stops on the VTOT tour, making it a much more entertaining affair.
“I feel like by letting himself get roasted, [Sheen] showed that he was sort of owning the bombs from the earlier parts of the tour. I thought he showed really thick skin, because I was ripping into him pretty hard.”
After the Connecticut show, Ross says he took a day off “for the Jewish holiday” and Sheen went back to L.A. for a child custody hearing.
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