Comedy Central to Cut Paul Walker Jokes From Justin Bieber Roast
Most comedians consider a roast the kind of place where you can joke about anything. Everything is fair game, as they often say. But, a number of controversial jokes about the death of actor Paul Walker at Comedy Central's Roast of Justin Bieber will be cut before the show's broadcast on March 30.
The Comedy Central roast was taped on Saturday and, following backlash from those in attendance (including Walker's Fast and Furious star Ludacris) and later online as the offending jokes leaked to the web, Comedy Central has decided to edit those segments out of the program. The network said in a statement:
Roasts often push the limits of good taste and we give the participants full reign to try things knowing we have the edit to shape the show. Sometimes the line is discovered by crossing it. The Paul Walker references will not be in the telecast.
The jokes in question came from roast mainstay Jeff Ross and SNL star Pete Davidson. Ross cracked to Ludacris, “Move b----, get out of the way. That's what Paul Walker should have told that tree.” Later in the taping, Davidson joked, “Just this past year, Justin got arrested for drag racing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t with Paul Walker.”
Both jokes were met with boos and groans from the audience and, after the taping, Justin Bieber told reporters, “I didn't particularly like the Paul Walker jokes.”
It's not the first time a Comedy Central roast has courted controversy. In 2011, Amy Schumer joked about the recent death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn to Dunn's friend and co-star Steve-O (Schumer would later say she didn't “feel the need to apologize” for the bit), though this is the first time a joke has been cut because of controversy.
Though Walker passed back in November of 2013, Fast and Furious 7 is set to open in just a few weeks, and wounds are still fresh. The recent premiere at SXSW was highly emotional both before the film as the cast and crew addressed the crowd, and afterward. It's not often you see a crowd sobbing and grabbing for tissues after an action movie, but Furious 7 packs an emotional punch.
We'd never want to tell comedians what they can and can't make fun of, so we wouldn't hold it against Davidson and Ross for making those jokes, but we also don't hold it against Comedy Central for cutting them either.