Since its inception back in 2003, the Comedy Central Roast has been a no-holds barred way of celebrating a personality by making fun of them - often in the most offensive ways imaginable to man.
With that said, some topics are off limits (naturally) and participants are given the option of declaring a particular topic off limits, even if it is public knowledge.
According to Digital Spy, some roastees have stated that certain topics are off limits.
When they participated - Pamela Anderson, prohibited jokes about her Hepatitis C infection, Joan Rivers disallowed jokes about her daughter Melissa; and William Shatner asked that the death of his wife not be mentioned. This courtesy has been extended to many participants over the years.
The most recent person to be honored through a roast is South African media personality and LGBTIQ+ icon, Somizi Mhlongo. Personalities such as Nomzamo Mbatha, Kurt Darren, DJ Fresh, Ntsiki Mazwai, Fikile Mbalula, Skhumba and more featured on the panel and all took turns to roast each other before focusing their attention on Somizi.
The Roast first aired on Comedy Central, DSTV channel 122 on Monday, 7 May 2018 and has since been available online via streaming platform, ShowMax.
In the weeks since it first aired, it has been the topic of conversation for a number of reasons, including the fact that viewers felt as though the panel was trying to make light of HIV and AIDS as well as the evident dislike Nomzamo Mbatha and Ntsiki Mazwai have for each other. The most widely discussed aspect of the roast however, has been the fact that people feel as though Mazwai received an undue and unfair amount of attention.
Speaking as someone who attended the live recording of the roast, I do agree that she got roasted more than Somizi or any of the other panelists did but to call it an attack would be an exaggeration.
To say that the content of the 'jokes' aimed at her is unfair or "too low" - the way Bonnie Mbuli did, would also be a gross exaggeration. And I feel as though Kuli Roberts has every right to agree with this...
Watching the uncensored roast and Nomzamo Mbatha actually went in on Ntsiki 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😂😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/d5c0wTK4NQ— lushian. (@Lushovah) May 13, 2018
Too low!— Bonnie Mbuli (@BonnieMbuli) May 14, 2018
Mazwai is more notorious for her Twitter fingers than she is for her music. She has been involved in a twar with damn-near every South African, famous or otherwise and she continues to ensure we know how she feels about everything. Suffice it to say, Ntsiki Mazwai's Twitter timeline is pretty much a one-woman roast of everyone.
Bonnie it’s a roast.— lushian. (@Lushovah) May 14, 2018
What was low here? The fact that she’s not talented like her family or the fact that she doesn’t have any endorsement deals? Or maybe you were expecting Nomzamo to compliment Ntsiki... in a roast.
Perhaps the panel (most of whom have gotten into it with Mazwai online) felt as though this was their chance to have their say, face to face.
And even then, they kept their jokes relatively mild.
I agree, there’s making jokes and there’s degrading and diminishing someone’s worth, it’s dark. https://t.co/C00tKnlrLA— Bonnie Mbuli (@BonnieMbuli) May 14, 2018
They insinuated that she was poor, that she lacks a certain level of personal hygiene and talent, compared her to a demon and Skhumba made fun of her body (*pretends to be shocked*) but none of this is new and I will speak for myself when I say that none of these 'jokes' colour my opinion of her.
Mazwai is a smart woman, who has added to her intellectual prowess by obtaining a qualification. She also seems to be able to hold her own in the many fights she starts (or ends up in by no fault of her own). Not to say that what is said about her in these instances may not hurt her feelings, but it is not my place to apologize to her for that in this case.
But wait, “you’re poor and I’m not “ is funny now? in a country where more than half the population lives in poverty ? https://t.co/PnqB3axoCN— Bonnie Mbuli (@BonnieMbuli) May 14, 2018
For Bonnie Mbuli, who recently came to Mazwai's defense to gesture broadly at everything is to conflate her feelings about the roast with some unrelated issues.
Before we discuss the elitism displayed at the roast in relation to the broader context we exist in as a country, how about we tackle the fact that a lot of the LGBTIQ+ community may have found some of the jokes homophobic? Does anyone care about that?
Or the fact that people immediately equated Ntiski and Nomzamo's inability to get along with each other to the age-old cliche that they're women and that's just what women do?
Or the fact that people argued that there should have been a display of sisterhood on the stage and two women who dislike each other (for reasons unbeknownst to us, reasons that have nothing to do with their gender) were supposed to pretend everything is hunky-dory... all for the sake of sisterhood.
At the end of the day, the roast did what it set out to do;
To honor, celebrate and roast Somizi Mhlongo,
To make people laugh,
To offend the masses,
and to trend... (and perhaps boost ShowMax's struggling subscriber base).
The roast's intention was never to become a platform in which we discuss and work on the issues plaguing the country. Let's leave that to the countless other platforms that exists for us to do so.
*Disclaimer: The opinions reflected in this article do not reflect the opinion held by ZAlebs and are solely the writer's.
Main image credit: huffingtonpost.co.za