On Thursday David Ortiz hosted a roast of himself in order to raise money for his charity, the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which does work to help children in both New England and the Dominican Republic gain access to vital pediatric services.
The roast was scheduled to be broadcast later on local sports network NESN, but was later pulled from the schedule due to the offensive nature of many of the jokes made at the expense of those on the dais, according to the Boston Globe.
Those onstage with Ortiz included comedians Bill Burr, Sarah Tiana, and Lenny Clarke, actor Anthony Mackie, and fellow Boston athletic royalty Dustin Pedroia and Rob Gronkowski. The jokes don’t read well, but as far as roasts go most of them are what you might expect – crossing lines but with everyone on stage appearing to laugh together at each other, knowing their turn will come. If this were originally scheduled to air on Comedy Central, it’s easy to imagine the show going on with a few well-placed bleeps.
That said, there are definitely lines crossed that some would not be able to forgive, and don’t belong on local television networks by any measure – notably a joke made about former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez who committed suicide in prison earlier this year. This, along with other jokes made at the roast, left much of the audience groaning, according to the Boston Globe.
While the audience had been warned by ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman that some jokes would be rough, there were still a few moments that left people more nervous with the comedy than delighted by it. Gronk delivered a few clunkers extremely poorly, including a “Jewish/quarterback” pun that was particularly cringe-worthy, and a “third base” line reeking of sexism and slut-shaming that definitely made him laugh harder than anyone else in the room.
Other jokes skewed closer to what you might expect from a roast of these sorts, with Bill Burr calling fellow Boston-based comedian Lenny Clarke, “A Boston institution – like gout and racism.” Burr also got in a solid burn on Ortiz, with the Boston.com reporting him saying, “I can’t believe they’re retiring this guy’s number. He’s a [expletive] DH. Retiring a DH’s number is like putting a vice president on Mount Rushmore.”
Dustin Pedroia got some of the most well-earned laughs of the night, recounting stories of his playing days with Ortiz, including an adorable and extremely believable anecdote about Ortiz not knowing his name even after close to a decade of baseball together.
While the show won’t make it to air, you can watch Gronk and Pedroia’s sets as recorded by Boston.com below and judge their content for yourself, and if you feel so inclined, donate to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.