On Saturday night comedian Jeffrey Ross arrived at the taping of “The Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne” wearing an outfit mocking the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. He was joined by two young boys wearing nothing but a football helmet and a towel around their waist. Coach Paterno died a few months after he was fired as part of a scandal involving his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was charged with more than 50 sex crimes against young boys dating back to 1994. The roast was for actress Roseanne Barr and included stars Katey Sagal, Ellen Barkin and Carrie Fisher. Ross shocked the world with his tasteless outfit and then “crossed a line” when he suggested that red-haired actor Seth Green looked a lot like the alleged Aurora movie theater gunman, James Holmes.
“Seth, congratulations. This is actually a great night for you,” Ross said. “You haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora. … I’m kidding. You are not like James Holmes. At least he did something in a movie theater that people remember!”
After the show, Ross defended his routine, telling NBC News:
“Yes, I crossed a line, and that is what the roasts are about. That’s what Roseanne is about — unapologetic comedy. If I had 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,” “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.”
Comedy Central producer Jonas Larsen said Ross’ jokes will not be a part of the telecast when it airs on August 12.