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No Holds Barred at Roast : All-Star Cast of Comedians Throws X-Rated Jabs at Roseanne

September 23, 1993|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The guest of honor wore black, but the humor was bluer than blue at Rosey's Roast.

Roseanne Arnold, former "domestic goddess" and one of television's most popular performers, was treated to a relentless barrage of insults and jabs Tuesday night by an all-star panel at the Friars Club's annual X-rated roast, two days after she pulled a no-show at the Emmy Awards, where she won for best actress in a comedy series.

Slimmed down, wearing a black hat that resembled a mountain of thinly braided dreadlocks and discretely showing off the rose tattooed on her breast, Arnold good-naturedly endured joke after joke about her sexual appetites, her weight and what comedian Martin Mull called her "wisely unchallenged power."

The tone was set early in the evening when comedian Bill Maher praised Arnold and her husband, Tom: "As a couple, they're earthy, they're raw . . . they're pigs. They've done for manners what Mickey Rourke has done for boxing."

Later, Maher said, "But they fill a need, because there's a lot of white-trash, ill-bred low-lifes out there who need to know 'What would it be like if I made it big?' "

Andrew Dice Clay said, "Roseanne is nice. She'll do things like donating clothes to the homeless--for shelter. . . . Everyone figured the only reason she showed up tonight was because she heard 'Roast.' Oh!"

George Wallace explained her absence at the Emmys: "They had a buffet at Denny's that night."

That was one of the only explanations heard. Arnold, who has frequently criticized the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for lack of recognition for her hit situation comedy, "Roseanne," was not saying why she did not attend the ceremony in Pasadena Sunday.

"I'm not going to talk about that," Arnold said before the roast, refusing to say where she was during the Emmys or whether she watched.

But she added that she felt honored to receive the award: "It's really cool." She plans to send the statuette to the Iowa diner that she and her husband own.

She preferred to talk about her hat: "It cost $1,200 and it's by some English designer whose name I forgot."

Tom Arnold was close by his wife during the roast, joking that he was one of the more nervous roastees. "You know, I'm the only one up here with anything to lose," he said.

He also made reference to his wife's habit of sending scathing letters to critics who knock her show or him, joking that if he makes her angry when his next series begins, "she'll send a few faxes and she'll sink that one just like she did the other one"--meaning last season's "The Jackie Thomas Show," a vehicle for Tom Arnold that ABC declined to renew.

Others who poked fun at Roseanne with jokes that were mostly unprintable included Sandra Bernhard, John Byner and roastmaster Steve Allen. More than 800 industry executives, celebrities and others attended the event at the Beverly Hilton, which raised money for several charities, including Roseanne Arnold's foundation for sexually abused children.

At the end of the roast, Roseanne Arnold finally got her shot at the podium and fired off a barrage of equally unprintable insults at her roastees.

But in the end, sentiment took over, and she noted how honored she felt to be in the presence of comedians she had watched on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and who had inspired her to go into show business.

"It's a great pleasure to be with you," she said, flinging back a strand of her black hat.

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