Apparently, we (and others) missed a little nugget of awesome just after Comedy Central‘s Roast of Justin Bieber, which featured the usual round of horrid-yet-amazing jokes from comedian Jeff Ross. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live on April 1 and talked about his next project — roasting prisoners in a Texas jail. Maybe everyone brushed it off because it was April Fool’s Day, but it turns out Ross actually did it.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, none of the prisons and prison officials Ross talked to were interested in his idea. He was turned down by at least 150 prisons before he stumbled on another means of reaching out.
Out of desperation, Ross ran an ad in American Jails magazine, which was spotted by Wayne Dicky, administrator of Brazos County Jail in Bryan, Texas, who saw an incentive for good behavior: One month of playing by the rules earned inmates a spot in the audience at one of Ross’ shows (two for male prisoners, one for women).
It worked. The prisoners behaved themselves, and Ross traveled down to the Brazos County Jail (which, as a native Texan who went to college in the area, I’ve driven by many, many times). Ross admits these shows weren’t quite like anything else he’d done, but he quickly made it fun for everyone.
Ross, who has performed for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, says zinging a roomful of violent criminals was far scarier. “I went after the Nazis first,” he recalls. “I wished them a Happy Hanukkah.”
Ross’s prison roast special airs on Comedy Central on June 13.
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)