I love this albumen portrait of Abraham Lincoln, taken in Washington at Alexander Gardner’s studio on 9 August 1863. Although before his election as president he had a collection of quips and humorous stories that he would embroider or simplify depending upon his audience, once our nation was torn in two, Lincoln suffered personal tragedy and the weight of our country’s problems wore him down. This photograph was taken only a month after the slaughter of Gettysburg where there were 51,118 casualties. Looking at Lincoln’s face do you think anything could cheer him up? I think what he needed was a good laugh. He gets that via Jeff Ross’s streaming presentation, Historical Roasts.
“Historical Roasts is an American comedy television series on Netflex. Based on the Los Angeles live comedy show of the same name, the series ‘roasts’ historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cleopatra. The 6-episode first season was released on Netflix on May 27, 2019.” – Wikipedia
While surfing through Netflex offerings last month I found “Historical Roasts.” I looked at the historical selections and chose the Lincoln program. It put me off a little bit, but I also laughed. Then I went on to find a good film or two. Over the weeks, however I kept thinking about the roast and was drawn back to it as a great piece of art will, which makes you look at it from different angles and viewpoints. You begin to see the nuances and the small touches that make you reflect, consider, understand, and enjoy.
Black humor and Jewish humor were combined in my choice of selecting the roast of Anne Frank. Jeff Ross was really criticized over this production. First of all, you must know that many of the jokes and comments made on these programs are lewd. These shows are not for the faint of heart, or prissy people. Like the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts of the 70’s and 80’s, a panel of like-minded people pay “tribute” to the roastee. Don Rickles, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Adolf Hitler took turns in roasting Anne before she took the lectern to make her own comments. I loved Adolf Hitler as played by Gilbert Gottfried. Don Rickles had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and his daughter, Mindy portrayed the Rickles character. She did a nice job of lampooning Anne and her father. My take-away from the presentation was questioning the work of President Roosevelt. Why did he not do more to help the Jews? He had to have known of their plight.
Prejudice and bigotry seem rampant in the lives of roastees Freddie Mercury, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and Anne Frank. This series makes you laugh, makes you mad, makes you wonder, and makes you think. These are all good things. Really good things.