Jeffery Ross on How He's Planning on Roasting Phoenix This Weekend

Comedian Jeffery Ross has a killer wit, impeccable timing, a razor-sharp tounge, and no sense of decency whatsoever. All of these attributes have allowed the stand-up comic to become the star of celebrity roasts everywhere and have earned him the title of "roastmaster general."

Anyone who's watched Comedy Central's celebrity roasts over the past decade can attest to this, as Ross has relentlessly and harshly ripped into stars like Pamela Anderson and William Shatner, as well as such human trainwrecks as Charlie Sheen, Courtney Love, and David Hasselhoff.

And later this year, the merciless comedian will continue to tear celebs to pieces as a part of his new Comedy Central show The Burn, which premieres in June.

In the meantime, Ross has his sights set on a different sort of target: Phoenix.

The comedian will rip our fair city a new one this weekend at Stand Up Live during his roast of Phoenix. And according to Ross - who took time to speak with Jackalope Ranch recently -- he plans to unleash plenty of jokes at our expense, including riffing on immigration, idiot politicians, the heat, and maybe even a few sacred cows.

So you're planning on roasting an entire city?
I am. It's something I haven't done before. It's one of my favorite cities so it won't be hard. Besides ripping into the place in general, I'm going to attempt "speed roasting" volunteers from the audience.

So people in the crowd are going to willingly step up to be blasted by you?
Yeah. I've been doing it all over the country and its been working. At a certain point in the show I'll just invite any Arizonans who want to come onstage for 15 seconds a ping and see if they can handle it. It should be interesting. It's very punk rock.

It's also very masochistic too.
I love it. I had two people thrown out in Vegas last week. When I got off the stage some chick kept smacking me.

I heard Penny Marshall went after you once after all the jokes you've made at her expense.
Yeah, it was pretty intense, but luckily I'm a black belt, which gives me the confidence to talk smack. I think it was within seconds of becoming physical. She's adorable. I could take her, though.

Is Phoenix an easy target for considering how our city and state is a hot mess sometimes?
Well it's hot, you know, and that makes people a little light-headed, I think. And that already helps them make a lot of crazy decisions. Obviously the immigration laws will be fun to make fun of, and the people in general. I'm not sure what I'll say but I know its going to be rich with material.

To say the least, considering that meth freaks, anti-immigration nuts, and idiot politicians populate Phoenix. Guns are legal to carry everywhere too. We're like the Florida of the west sometimes.
Wow, guns are legal everywhere there? I'm writing that one down.

Our state legislature keeps trying to allow guns on college campuses and just banned medical marijuana from universities and other schools.
That's too bad. I mean, I have a prescription and I love it.

What's your chronic condition?
Um, I have writer's block.

Is it easier celebrities when they're trainwrecks like Charlie Sheen or Hasselhoff?
I think it makes it harder, in a weird way, because those people are low-hanging fruit. They get made fun of a lot so the challenge is to find angles that haven't been picked apart. No one has roasted Phoenix before so I think that's a blank canvas. The show will cut deep and they'll be a lot to work with. I'm looking forward to it. People always ask what my favorite roast [subject] is and I always say, "Whoever's next," because the preparation and the process is so fun.

When prepping for a roast, have you ever held back with certain jokes that are too harsh?
You know what I'll do? I'll get into town early and start writing on Thursday for my Friday shows. I'm sure I'll go too far on Friday, try to figure out where the line is and by Saturday it will all be honed. So if you want to hear the jokes that will go too far, come on Friday. But then again, by Sunday I'll have so much confidence and swagger in how to roast Phoenix it's hard to say what will be the best show. I have the feeling everyone [in the audience] will be a little snowflake.

Have you ever gone too far with your roasting?
Never too far, but sometimes you can do too much. I don't like to pile on or bully any one person or subject. I've done a lot of Whitney Houston jokes and maybe after awhile I'll start to feel bad and hopefully someone else will die and I can start making fun of them instead.

Who are some of the celebrities you'd love to roast?
John McCain would be fun, don't you think?

Yeah, we've been going after McCain for a long time.
He's so old that Abraham Lincoln's high school was named John McCain High School (laughs).

Jeffrey Ross is scheduled to perform his roast of Phoenix nightly from Friday until Sunday at Stand Up Live. Admission is $22. Click here for show times and ticket info.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.