Cleopatra, Abe Lincoln and other historical figures will be in the hot seat when the comedy premieres May 27.
After years roasting such pop culture figures as Justin Bieber and Pamela Anderson, Jeff Ross is diving into the past with his newest project, Netflix’s Historical Roasts.
“Nothing is off limits because no one’s going to complain,” says Ross of the series’ long-dead targets, among them Bob Saget’s Abraham Lincoln and Jaleel White’s Muhammad Ali. “When I roasted Donald Trump, he was very sensitive about jokes about his finances.”
But just because Cleopatra (Ayden Mayeri) and Freddie Mercury (James Adomian) can’t call Ross to wine about his jabs doesn’t mean he was any less serious about getting their stories right. One of the first things the comedian did after he became attached to the project was to buy a copy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Producers also hired a historian to sit in on the brainstorming sessions and made sure to stock the writers' room with a wide range of comedic voices, from veteran writer Lance Crouther (The Chris Rock Show, Real Time with Bill Maher) to up-and-coming trans comic Robin Tran, who broke out on Ross’ Comedy Central series, Roast Battle.
“I didn’t want this to be an old white guy’s history show,” explains Ross. “I wanted it to represent what’s going on in the world now, so you need a very diverse writing staff.”