Justin Bieber, the once tween sensation, the boy middle-schoolers love to love and everyone else loves to hate has been long over due for a roast. It finally happened on March 30, 2015. As is the tradition of Comedy Central roasts, the “roasters” spend plenty of time targeting each other with witty barbs before roasting Bieber. Justin’s panel consisted of Martha Stewart, Snoop Dog, Ludacris, Natasha Legerro, Hannibal Buress, Jeff Ross, Chris D’Elia, Shaquille O’Neal and SNL‘s Pete Davidson.
Justin was ushered in by a gospel choir and lowered onto the stage by a angel-winged rig. He took his seat of honor with his trademarked bewildered smirk, and maintained that expression through most of the night.Generally, the roasters were simultaneously meanest and funniest when they were targeting fellow roasters, or peripheral figures in Bieber’s life, like Scooter Braun and Selena Gomez. This was the most hyped up roast in recent history, and it really delivered on its promise of being funny, cringe-inducing, and wildly entertaining. The roasters were mostly in good spirit and comfortable joking around with each other. Bieber, at times, looked more uncomfortable on that dais than Martha Stewart, who was surprisingly wry and funny. Justin responded to many of the jokes directed at him with a blank face or a hesitant smile. His earnestness served him well at the end when he formally stated that “the things that I’ve done really don’t define who I am. I’m a kind-hearted person who loves people, and through it all, I lost some of my best qualities. For that, I’m sorry,” he said. “What I can say is I’m looking forward to being someone who you guys can look at and be proud of.”
No one watches a roast to be sermonized or apologized to, and Bieber’s attempt to improve his public standing was completely transparent. But it was no different from Pete Davidson, Kevin Hart, Natasha Legerro, and Ludacris who each ended their set with an obsequious proclamation of love, loyalty, and respect toward Bieber.Somehow, it all worked because everyone seemed so genuine and, despite his shortcomings, Justin Bieber remains a likable character.
Overall, the roast was both amusing and uncomfortable, and went a good way to accomplishing Justin’s goal of improving his public standing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns around and drops a new single any day now. Just like comedy, staying relevant is all about timing.