Excerpt from the chapter on the roasts
From 1998 to 2002, Comedy Central aired five Friars Club roasts. After five years, the agreement between the Friars Club and Comedy Central ended. In 2003 Comedy Central inked a deal with Denis Leary’s production company Apostle. Frank DiGiacomo reported: “Though the partnership had been extremely lucrative to the Friars, they seemed relieved to be free of the yoke of national television. No longer did they have to lard the dais with young observational comics for the sake of demographics, or deal with big-name comedy stars who were afraid of working blue on national cable television.”
The first of the revamped Comedy Central roasts aired in 2003. Robert Kelly traced the origin of these shows to a roast of club owner Barry Katz that took place at the Boston Comedy Club in New York: “Jeff Ross sold the idea to Comedy Central. It was just us celebrating each other and smashing each other. It was pretty fucking great. It was at a little club, just us, mostly comics. Some industry, a little fans. To me, it’s what roasts are all about.”
Greg performed in nine of the roasts that aired on Comedy Central: Chevy Chase in 2002, Jeff Foxworthy and Pamela Anderson in 2005, William Shatner in 2006, Flavor Flav in 2007, Bob Saget in 2008, Larry the Cable Guy and Joan Rivers in 2009, and David Hasselhoff in 2010. Comedians and comedy fans revere Greg as one of the best roasters ever. His intelligence, writing skills, ability to ad-lib, and his lack of concern for being offensive all came together. The results were often hilarious.
Many knew Greg as “the guy from the roasts.” The shows enhanced his notoriety, but they may have detracted from his broader standup talents. To fervent fans, calling Greg a roast comedian is like calling Michael Jordan as a slam-dunk champion. Roasts were an exhibition where Greg excelled, but they did not encompass his overall comedic style.