Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jeffrey Ross - Roastmaster or Idol Judge? Why Not Both

A wave of public opinion is sweeping the internet. The hope of the masses is to replace the stuffy old administration with a fresh, new, and younger replacement. This isn’t 2008 and I’m not talking about the grassroots efforts that helped Barack Obama become president. This growing clamor is to get Jeff Ross hired as a judge on American Idol. Opposed to President Obama and the fear of taxes being raised, if Jeff Ross becomes an Idol judge the only thing that would go up is the sale of pants to replace all the ones ruined from being pissed in from laughing so hard.

American Idol, the television juggernaut of the past eight years, has recently seen three of its four judges leave the show. Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi are all off the panel. The only remaining judge is former Journey bassist Randy Jackson. The ratings for American Idol have decreased the past few seasons. This is due in large part to the product becoming staid. People know what they are getting.

Disclaimer – most of what is written next is speculation. I haven’t watched American Idol since I was dating my now-wife. Once she said “Yes”, I said “No” to TV I didn’t want to watch.

The best part of American Idol is the tryout section for those that don’t have the voice to make it as a member of The Eagles, let alone become a singer in a good band. Simon was the reason the tryouts were entertaining because he was the only one of the judges that was honest. Plus you’d have the occasional William Hung who lets the insults write themselves. With the addition of bland personalities like Ellen, and the loss of people like Paula Abdul who were probably on more substances than the cast of 1970s SNL, the tryout portion of the show became just as boring and predictable as the show itself. Adding Jeffrey Ross would add a new dynamic the show desperately needs. If people liked Simon basically because he was brutally honest, they’ll love Jeffrey Ross.

Simon Cowell was an unknown, at least to the average American, when Idol debuted. Jeff Ross is a household name. He’s been doing comedy for years. Back before Comedy Central was where college kids got their news, it used to showcase comedians. One of these programs featured Jeffrey Ross and his poems, such as “Why I Love My Gangsta Bitch Girlfriend” and “Hey, Wait a Minute”.

Since then we all know Jeff Ross has become the pre-eminent comedian at the Friar’s Club and Comedy Central’s Roasts. There isn’t a funnier, more honest, or fearless member of those daises and roasting isn't easy, believe me I've tried. He’s roasted Pamela Anderson, Hugh Hefner, David Hasselhoff, Gene Simmons and whoever else pulls up a seat next to him on a stage. He may have the most memorable Roast line of all-time for telling Sandra Bernhard he wouldn’t have sex with her with Bea Arthur’s dick. May she rest in peace.

Not only would Jeff Ross bring this acerbic humor to American Idol, but he’d also bring with him a love of music that goes back to his college days at Boston College where he was music director of the school’s radio station. He was a DJ and played in bands. Plus he was a member of the KISS Army as a kid. Simon didn’t have a comedy background yet people tuned in to laugh at what he’d say to aspiring singers. Not to mention Simon Cowell was probably in the Pet Shop Boys Coast Guard.

The question isn’t why Jeff Ross should be a judge now, the question is why wasn’t he made a judge eight years ago?

FOX may be concerned about bringing Jeff Ross onboard – afraid he might tell a contestant he would rather listen to a lecture on law enforcement from Hooks from Police Academy than one more note from their mouth – but Jeff Ross has experience on network TV’s prime time ratings bonanza - he was a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Even though he didn’t last long, ABC invited him back to roast the finalists. There is no chance the Disney-owned company would let him on the cast or have him back if there was any fear of Middle America making a call to the FCC. Hell, they don’t even let ESPN hire real journalists anymore.

As I said earlier, I don’t watch American Idol. I’m not a huge music fan. I would rather sit on the T between Kenmore Square and Packard’s Corner full of Sawx fans immediately following a game at Fenway than go see live music. If Jeffrey Ross were to become a judge I would make sure to tune in. My guess is there are many more potential viewers like me.

American Idol is a known quantity. Its true fans aren’t going to go anywhere, regardless of whether or not Simon is drinking from one of the big red Coke cups. Cowboys fans didn’t stop coming to Texas Stadium because Jimmy Johnson was gone. And Jeffrey Ross is no Barry Switzer.

A finer compliment couldn’t be had.

Join the movement on Facebook here.

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