The Comedy Central Roast is a South African version of the international format of one-off specials hosted by Comedy Central in which selected celebrities are "roasted" by a panel of their peers, who do their utmost to embarrass the roastee by directing jokes and comments at them that are as personal and cutting in nature as possible.
Comedy Central Roasts are standout TV comedy events that have featured famous names from the worlds of entertainment, media, business and celebrity.
US Roastees who have previously settled their eminent posteriors on the infamous Roasthot seat include James Franco, Roseanne Arnold, William Shatner, David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, Donald Trump, Joan Rivers, Denis Leary and Flava Flav.
Filmed in front of a live audience, each Roast features a Roastmaster who presides over the event and introduces the guests (or Roasters), who dish out good-natured insults and hilarious tributes to the Roastee.
The Roastee also joins in the fun, meets old friends, gets the chance to refute his critics and rounds up the show with a final closing statement.
Comic provocation, good-natured ribbing, outrageous anecdotes (true and false) and some genuinely barbed remarks made the Roast great watching on both TV and video, selling thousands of units on DVD.
Staged in 2012, the first African Roast - The Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr - was an entertainment event which saw controversial singer, actor, poet and polemicist Steve Hofmeyr well and truly spitted by Roastmaster Trevor Noah, with Roasters Casper de Vries, John Vlismas, Anele Mdoda, Shaleen Surtie-Richards, Robert Whitehead, David Kau, Kuli Roberts and Minki van der Westhuizen.
In September 2013, Comedy Central announced that the second Roastee would be comedian Leon Schuster, but he withdrew after being advised to rest by his doctors following an intense work schedule which saw him shoot two movies back-to-back whilst awaiting a knee replacement operation.
In January 2014 it was announced that he would be replaced by controversial businessman Kenny Kunene as the second Roastee.
The second Roast - The Comedy Central Roast of Kenny Kunene - was staged in 2014 and saw "Sushi King", entrepreneur, reality TV star and politician Kenny Kunene roasted by a panel headed by UK comedian Jimmy Carr and featuring Khanyi Mbau, PJ Powers, Rian van Heerden, Somizi Mhlongo, Tumi Morake, Jack Parow, Dineo Ranaka and John Vlismas.
After a four-year hiatus the Roast returned with The Comedy Central Roast of Somizi, which was filmed on Thursday 26 April, 2018 at the Lyriq Theatre. Entertainer Somizi Mhlongo was roasted by a panel headed by Gareth Cliff, with "Roasters" Schalk Bezuidenhout, Ntsiki Mazwai, Skhumba Hlophe, Kurt Darren, DJ Fresh, Nomzamo Mbatha, Fikile Mbalula and Joanne Joseph.
Filming of the fourth Roast - the Comedy Central Roast of AKA - was open to the public and took place on Thursday 21 February, 2019, at The Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg. Hip hop star AKA was roasted by a panel headed by Pearl Thusi, with "Roasters" Davido, Francois Van Coke, Joey Rasdien, Mark Fish, Moonchild Sanelly, Moshe Ndiki, Nina Hastie and Papa Penny.
The Roasts were held at the Lyriq Theatre in Johannesburg (1-3) and The Teatro at Montecasino (4) and are filmed for broadcast later on Comedy Central.
The Comedy Central Roast is a production of MTV Networks Africa (Pty) Ltd trading as Viacom International Media Networks Africa.
1: Steve Hofmeyr
2: Kenny Kunene
3: Somizi Mhlongo
On Comedy Central, the first Roast was Steve Hofmeyr and the second Kenny Kunene. This order was reversed for the broadcast on SABC3.
The transmission on Comedy Central was 105 minutes for each Roast. On SABC3, these were edited down to 60 minutes.