Before Comedy Central began roasting celebrities mercilessly on stage, entertainer Dean Martin did it on a pretty regular basis. Starting in 1974 and ending in 1984, the alcoholic singer/actor hosted The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts and with each special, he along with other dais members ripped into a well-known celebrity for about an hour. The hour would be a highly amusing one and would be remembered for years to come by not only the roastee but by the audience viewing said roasting.
The format is simple. A notable star would be selected as “Man/Woman of the Week” and a group of celebrity friends/admirers would sit at a dais or long Last Supper-like table. Each celebrity would then take turns insulting the “Person of the Week” but in a playful and entertaining way. The celebrities roasted in this DVD set include Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Kirk Douglas, Michael Landon, Jackie Gleason, Don Rickles, Joan Collins and even Roastmaster General himself, Dean Martin.
With 54 roasts over the course of 10 years, the show took place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, a fitting setting for entertainers and folks looking to be entertained. The show was actually a retooled version of The Dean Martin Show which was suffering from poor ratings. NBC then decided to make it a roast special and the results were more than positive. The sight of numerous celebrities on stage simultaneously hit audiences right at home and was something few other programs offered.
Aside from the roastee, the dais is what really made The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. The Last Supper-like table featured a bevy of colorful stars. In this DVD set, they include John Wayne, Dom DeLuise, Rich Little, Muhammad Ali, George Burns, Phyllis Diller, Art Carney, Bette Davis, Florence Henderson, Bob Newhart, Don Rickles, Milton Merle, Jonathan Winters and the list goes on. These performers knew how to make a crowd laugh and with each zinger and one liner, they generated a good amount of laughter and applause from the audience.
The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts is a truly terrific DVD set. It contains hilarious footage of some of the greatest stars pre-1984. The show is dated, however but if you are into classic film and TV references or if you have a grandparent who enjoys a good chuckle, then this is the perfect gift for you or them. Star Vista and Time Life have restored this footage into any easy-to-digest DVD set. Think of it as a bonding opportunity with your grandpa. Comedy from the 1960s and 1970s was filled with booze, sexual innuendo and politically incorrect one-liners. Though this humor may seem inappropriate today, it definitely feels at home on DVD.
Dean Martin is an aquired taste. He was a good looking man, who drank heavily and offered the world some very classic songs (i.e. That’s Amore, Everybody Loves Somebody). His Celebrity Roasts brought together some of the time period’s most notable stars in a venue that welcomed playful ribbing and delightful belly laughs. Everyone on the dais, in the hot seat and in the audience seemed to have had a great time. With over 900 minutes of footage, this new DVD set will provide you and grandpa with a healthy dose of comedy. You don’t really have to have been alive during the 1960s/1970s to enjoy this program. The humor is universal and can be enjoyed by anyone no matter how old. Roastmaster General Dean Martin made sure everyone watching the show enjoyed themselves and now with this wonderful DVD collection, he continues to do so in excellently remastered fashion.
DVD Bonus Features
The bonus features for The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts are filled to the brim just like Dean Martin’s drinking glass. There are bonus comedy sketches, two rare Dean Martin TV specials, three featurettes, rare home movies of Dean and friends and lastly, interviews with celebrity roasters.