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Jeff Ross roasts Tacoma

Hit the bathroom before watching The Roastmaster General

Jeff Ross / press photo

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Ed. note: Jeff Ross' Tacoma Comedy Club shows have been postponed. The shows will be rescheduled.

I've never been very good at ribbing people. I think it comes from all of the anger that churns deep inside of me, but I could be wrong. Whenever there's a group of people playfully jabbing each other, I will invariably go too far and say something really mean, without any sort of comedy cushioning. It's just not in my blood.

On the other end of the spectrum is comedian Jeff Ross, whose career revolves almost entirely around insulting people for humor. The so-called Roastmaster General first caught the attention of comedy fans through his involvement in the Comedy Central Roasts, which were the perfect venue to highlight his innate ability to cut down just about anybody. I spoke with Ross in anticipation of his two Tacoma Comedy Club dates this weekend.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: So, you're going to be performing in Tacoma.

JEFF ROSS: Never been there. Any advice?

VOLCANO: Tacoma hates Seattle. You could mention that.

ROSS: Is that true? That's great. That's really good to know.

VOLCANO: It's more like Seattle looks down on Tacoma, so we hate them for that.

ROSS: That makes more sense. I'll put that on my list.

VOLCANO: How did you discover you had a talent for roasts?

ROSS: It was a fluke. I just started making fun of people at the comedy clubs as they went to the bathroom. Slowly, I learned how to pick people off. I don't know if it's because I grew up in New Jersey, where everybody loves to bust balls, or what, but dissing is my life. It might be some kind of verbal self-defense from bullies. It's in my DNA.

VOLCANO: Do you ever worry about going too far?

ROSS: Nah. People can handle it. If they can't handle it, then they don't come to my show. At this point, I like to let loose. That's why I'm psyched to come to Tacoma, because I think everybody there can handle it.

VOLCANO: I think that's probably true. So, you got started in Jersey?

ROSS: Yeah, I was doing open mics in New Jersey, and I took a comedy class in New York. I kinda started it as a hobby, and I feel like I still do it as a hobby on some level.

VOLCANO: Do you have any advice for aspiring comics, especially ones that are in a town like Tacoma, which doesn't have as healthy a scene as LA or New York or Chicago?

ROSS: You should be onstage every night. I don't care if you have to create your own open mic at the bar or a coffee shop or at the Tacoma Comedy Club - anywhere you can get onstage, as much as possible. And tape yourself and listen back. Listening is the hardest part, but you gotta work on your craft, and you can't do it sitting on your couch watching The Daily Show. You gotta get up and get outside and live. I once heard Dave Chappelle say that you only start out once. It's rough, but you gotta work through it. That's what makes you funny. You earn your chops.

VOLCANO: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about the biggest story in comedy, right now. Any take on the Bill Cosby controversy?

ROSS: If he wanted these women to fall asleep, he could've just done his comedy act. (Laughs.) But, you know, I've been thinking and talking so much about Cosby that I think I'll save it for the Tacoma shows, because it's pretty raw. When it's one of our own, it's really poignant. I can't imagine me not riffing on this extensively when I get to Tacoma.

JEFF ROSS, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 14 and Monday, Dec. 15, Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market St., Tacoma, $25-$40, 253.282.7203

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