“How do you embarrass a crackhead?” comedian Jeffrey Ross wanted to know. When the crackhead wears an oversize Movado clock around his neck and a mouthful of gold grillz, when he has a rap sheet longer than Bobby Brown’s and has had his driver’s license suspended more than 40 times, when he’s been accused of performing a “coon act” and a “minstrel show,” fathered seven children by two baby mamas, and dated a 6-foot-1-inch Danish Amazonian who was once married to Rocky Balboa, you really can’t embarrass a guy like that. Of course, there’s really only one guy exactly like that. And at the taping of the Comedy Central roast of the Public Enemy rapper–turned–reality show star, the question really was, Could anyone embarrass Flavor Flav? He’s already been called “the Urkel of VH1” and described as looking like “Idi Amin after a three-year crack binge on the sun.”
Before taping began at Warner Bros. (the show airs August 12), there was the obligatory purple-carpet freak show of reality-TV has-beens, reporters, security guards and one Skippy Handleman (Marc Price, who played Alex P. Keaton’s next-door neighbor on Family Ties). There was “Buckwild,” our favorite wiggerette and contestant from season two of Flavor of Love, throwing gang signs. Beefy wrestler Chyna Doll looked surprisingly demure and pretty, but it seemed as though Carrot Top, who has a face only a grandmother could love, is turning himself into a steroid case. Ice-T posed with his not-a-porn-star wife, Coco, who looked as if J. Lo’s ass were resting on her oiled-up, pumped-up chest. The Al Sharpton of sleaze, Ron Jeremy, was hogging up camera time. And Moonlite Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof was going around slapping backs as if he’d just sold one of his prostitutes to the highest bidder. I felt the irresistible urge to bathe.
After the press line died down, we were ushered into a studio, where we were seated at the same table as Johnny Knoxville (perhaps he wore that Pabst Blue Ribbon shirt because he was anticipating drinking a lot?) and awaited Flav’s arrival. It was no ordinary entrance. He shot out of a cloud of smoke and flew across the audience suspended by cable cords, dressed like a Smurf in head-to-toe blue and wearing a crown stolen straight outta Burger King. “Makes you wonder where the other flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz are,” quipped comedian and master of ceremonies Katt Williams. “[Flav] is the only conscious black man I know to wear a Sean John sweatsuit, gold teeth and an Aryan Viking cap at the same time.”
This being a Comedy Central roast, the roasters were as big a target as the roastee, the biggest bull’s-eye, of course, being Carrot Top. “I used to think they called you Carrot Top because of your red hair,” said insult queen Lisa Lampanelli, solving the biggest mystery of the evening. “But now I know it’s because everyone would love to see you buried up to your forehead in dirt.”
The entire night was a verbal pingpong of putdowns and every variation of a you-so (you so black, you so ugly, you so skinny, you so black-ugly-and-skinny) joke: “You’re so old, the first thing you bought with your record-deal money was your freedom,” comedian Greg Giraldo said to Ice-T. “Bitch, if you fucked Flavor Flav, you don’t got jungle fever, you got Ebola,” the actress Sommore said to Brigitte Nielsen. “Flavor Flav is responsible for more homeless black children than Hurricane Katrina,” Jimmy Kimmel shot back to Flav. Lampanelli brought it all home with, “I haven’t seen this many blacks in one room since the sickle cell anemia benefit.”
“In the parking lot!” I hear at one point from behind me. “He’s about to get his ass beat.”
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Yes, we simultaneously laughed and squirmed in our seats, knowing full well that even in this age of Sarah Silverman and Dave Chappelle comedy, this kind of humor would’ve gotten all our asses whooped in another time and place.
All the while, Flav took sips from a pimp cup so big it should’ve come with a lifeguard.
And when it was finally time for the man of the hour to say his piece, all I heard was slurred, slurpy-sounding laughter. After three hours of incessant you-so’s, my forehead was ready to hit the table, like the girl slumped over her chair in front of me.
Incidentally, Chuck D (whose name, as someone pointed out, stands for “dignity”) was not present.