INTERVIEW: Jeff Ross will roast audience members at Atlanta Comedy Theater March 25-27

Jeff Ross returns to Atlanta for shows at the Atlanta Comedy Theater. CONTRIBUTED BY GETTY IMAGES

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Jeff Ross returns to Atlanta for shows at the Atlanta Comedy Theater. CONTRIBUTED BY GETTY IMAGES

Comedy Central has sadly not done a comedy roast since 2019 when it focused on Alec Baldwin. Almost all of the roasts, from Bob Saget to Donald Trump, have been led by “Roastmaster General” Jeff Ross, who is this generation’s Don Rickles.

He is back on the road willing to gleefully insult random audience members who dare come to The Atlanta Comedy Theater in Norcross March 25 to 27. This is a relatively small venue for Ross, who is doing shows there as a favor to the owner Gary Abdo.

Abdo and Ross are mutual friends with Dave Chappelle who also appeared at Atlanta Comedy Theater in 2020 to prep for his “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig. Ross also appeared on stage with Chappelle last November at Mercedes-Benz Arena when Chappelle screened a documentary about his pandemic comedy shows to a big Atlanta crowd. “I was the only other comic on stage,” he said. “He mostly played the film and music with Atlanta rappers. The home grown came out. T.I. was there backstage cracking everybody up.”

Ross said he has enjoyed the road as the pandemic has lightened up. “People missed live comedy,” he said. “The audience seems more appreciative of what we do. They are really responsive. They wait afterwards to say hi. I feel this real connection.”

And he said it’s been good for him as well: “I feel the freest, the healthiest when I’m on stage. The world problems, my own agita slips away.”

Ross on other topics:

On his stand-up act: “Aside from roasting volunteers, I will break down what is going on in my world and my life. My show has a real arc to it. If you don’t have a good time, I’ll personally have a money-back guarantee. If you’re feeling blue or on the fence, come on out. I’m worth the risk!”

On the Oscars hosted by three comediennes: “I love when comics get to have a platform like that. I’m glad there’s comedy there again. ... I wrote for Billy Crystal at the Oscars 20 years ago. That is a highlight of my career. Is hosting the Oscars really a goal of mine? Not really. I’d rather do the Grammys. I like making fun of musicians. Actors are too sensitive.”

On the Ukraine war: While Ross is not remotely political, he can’t help but root for Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. “He’s a fellow Jewish comedian. I feel like I have an investment in this. I want to see him do well.” But Ross himself couldn’t run a country: “I could barely run my own life. It would have to be a really small country. Maybe my hometown in New Jersey.”

Visiting town: “I love Clermount Lounge. I tip big there. Anything to help the Atlanta community! It’s a lot cheaper than Magic City. I went there with Janelle Monae and some rappers. They made it rain. I made it drizzle. I don’t have that much money.”


IF YOU GO

Jeff Ross

7 and 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday, March 25-27. $35-$45. Atlanta Comedy Theatre, 4650 Jimmy Carter Blvd., #114b, Norcross. atlcomedytheater.com.