When roasts go bad

Page 2 columnist

A note to anyone preparing to be the guest of honor at a roast: The fact that you were asked means you're big-time, so enjoy it now. Chances are, by the end of the night, you'll be begging to be shown a way out through the kitchen.

Earl Weaver
Earl Weaver didn't find his roast very amusing when Jim Palmer took the microphone.
Just ask former Orioles skipper Earl Weaver. If you've ever read Thomas Boswell, you know nothing delighted this wrinkled lawn dwarf more than entertaining the press for hours after games while smoking cigarettes buck-naked. Yet this crusty veteran of big-league heckling snapped at a recent charity event after Jim Palmer dusted him back with a few too many short and drunk jokes. It took no less of a man than Lee May to pull the livid Weaver off Palmer.

Well, what the hell did Earl expect? Roasts are charity's answer to a parole-board hearing. People who know you too well are expected to attack everything that's true about you for laughs. Never have so many ugly words done so much to help so many. But when the roasts go bad, you need high-octane material that comes with a simple disclaimer: Use the following one-liners at your own risk.

  • If you roast Bobby Bowden, think twice before you ask him if he used to run up the score when he played his kids in "Chutes and Ladders."

  • Try to get on early at the Bill Romanowski roast, before his wife slips him his "diet pills," then unchains him.

  • Are you man enough to open your Bob Knight material with "Hey, Knight!," then jump right into some tamer fodder: "Much has been made of the fact that Bob separated his own son's shoulder on a hunting trip, but no one mentions the fact that the kid doesn't listen!"

  • Make sure your limo has bulletproof glass before you compare rapmeister Allen Iverson's stylings to "vomit with a beat."

  • Note your exits before asking Jerry Krause if, at this point, he thinks the Bulls could sign a blind midget.

  • Call me so I can be there if you plan on asking Vince McMahon if his breasts are real, or if Olden Polynice ever used his fake police badge to get free doughnuts.

  • If you're asked to roast John Rocker, be prepared to duck after speculating that for the rest of his career, he'll see more batteries than the Energizer Bunny. Of course, if you talk real fast there's a good chance he won't get it.

  • Ryan Leaf might just yell, "Quit it!," and a few other choice words when you ponder aloud who stole more money -- Leaf or Tank Black.

  • If you're looking for easy pickin's, call out those two guys who get so excited when Dan Patrick calls up to order an ESPN the Magazine fleece, and tell them "we cut the groupies with headsets sketch."

  • If you're asked to roast Daniel Snyder, let's hope he's in a good mood before you wonder aloud if he'd trade all his money just to be 5-foot-3.

  • And Jim Palmer? I can't help wondering if he got into the Hall of Fame for being a great pitcher, or for being the first underwear model to introduce an entire nation to the concept of male camel toe.

    As for Earl Weaver? Next time you're considering mounting the dais, Earl, give me a call.

    Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at http://nickbakay.com.

  • a slice of roast 

    Roast of Weaver turns into feud with Palmer

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