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While late actor Paul Walker was warmly remembered for SXSW’s surprise screening of Furious 7, that’s not quite how it happened for the recent taping of Comedy Central’s Roast of Justin Bieber. Despite having nothing to do with the pop singer beyond having an ability to woo women off of their feet, Walker’s name got brought up a couple of times for some predictably mean-spirited jokes. And those jokes will be excised from the program when it airs in two weeks.
It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that Roastmaster General Jeff Ross was one of the offenders. Here was his joke, in reference to a song by fellow roaster and Walker’s Fast & Furious co-star Ludacris.
’Move, bitch, get out of the way!’ is what Paul Walker should have told that tree.
That’s about as cheap of a shot as you can take, but that’s usually what 30% of a Roast consists of. According to Variety, Ludacris wasn’t a fan of the jokes made at Walker’s expense, and made a “cut” motion with his hand after one of them.
Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson dropped the other bomb during his set.
Just this past year, Justin got arrested for drag racing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t with Paul Walker. What? He’s doing great! He’s got a movie coming out!
I mean, at least this one had Bieber as part of the subject matter, but it was still a low blow. Of course, it’s telling that the Roaster lineup wasn’t filled with dark humorists, as I’m sure all of them would have wished death on Bieber in some form. (I don’t even think host Kevin Hart wishes death to flies.) And it’s still a questionable angle to use a dead celebrity to prove a point, especially one whose death still feels fresh thanks to Furious 7’s upcoming release. I mean, that’s almost precisely why the jokes were made in the first place, but still.
Comedy Central recognized that the boundaries were stretched a little too thin with those jokes, releasing the following statement.
Roasts often push the limits of good taste and we give the participants full reign to try things knowing we have the edit to shape the show. Sometimes the line is discovered by crossing it. The Paul Walker references will not be in the telecast.
Personally, I think that Roasts should be aired as close to live as possible, as hearing about jokes second-hand through news stories is the most boring way for comedy to happen. Sure, potentially offensive jokes like these would make it to air, but it’s not like editing them out makes them not exist anymore. People are always going to say horrible things, and you can catch all of the Walker-free jokes at Bieber’s expense that you can handle when the Roast of Justin Bieber airs on Comedy Central on Monday, March 30.