Roast Of Denis Leary John Fortenberry

With their traditions of candid humour and busting balls, celebrity roasts are generally thought to bring out the darker, meaner sides of popular entertainers who gather together to gang up on the proceeding's elected target. By most accounts, these rib fests first gained popularity as a segment on The Dean Martin Show in the 1960s. They soon took on a life of their own and from 1973 to 1984 The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts were a sure-fire primetime hit featuring the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., George Burns, Ronald Reagan and Lucille Ball sitting at a table like a panel, boozing and busting each other up. Ostensibly hoping to revitalise the roast concept, Comedy Central presents the Roast of Denis Leary, a raunchy, at times hilarious special that brings together celebrity friends of the outspoken and notoriously loyal comic. Aside from its raunchy language (here's a fun game, play "Count the Fucks!"), this Roast also strays from its forbears in its lack of real stars. Aside from Colin Quinn and Yo MTV Raps' Doctor Dré and Ed Lover, Leary's panel is stacked with friends who essentially owe their "celebrity status" to him. Ever heard of Mario Cantone? Lenny Clarke? Nick DiPaolo. No, you haven't but this is yet another example of Leary's commitment to his friends, which transcends any celebrity schmoozing. Not to say there aren't some real stars involved. Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) struggles as the host and the stage is littered with silent scenery like Kiefer Sutherland, Elizabeth Hurley, and a partial collection of Sopranos. Bigger stars like Rene Russo, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Christopher Walken and Joe Mantegna are all hilarious but send in scripted video tributes. Leary manages to trump all of the roasters in a rebuttal that gets justice as a DVD extra in its unedited form. Though it is often truly funny, Comedy Central's Roast simply lacks the panache of the classics. Plus: Red Carpet Premiere, extra footage, deleted scenes. (Paramount)