If you’ve ever watched American Idol, even for one fleeting second, chances are it was for Simon Cowell. The singers come and go, the songs run together after a while (and by a while, I mean about 10 minutes), but Simon is a classic. He speaks his mind, he’s got a sense of humor, and he isn’t afraid to tell someone they suck. It’s a simple formula, but somehow it’s been enough to make him the most enduring personality in reality tv history (which, admittedly, is also about 10 minutes). But he’s leaving American Idol, and the rumored replacements – Steven Tyler, J.Lo, Shania Twain – aren’t exactly renowned for their wit and candor. So what should this show, this unparalleled music and ratings empire, do? Hire the only acceptable replacement, a comedian you’ve probably never heard of, Jeffrey Ross. And here’s why…
Jeffrey Ross is known as The Roastmaster, and if you’ve seen a celebrity roast in the last 10 years on Comedy Central or MTV, chances are you’ve laughed at one of his jokes. He’s the closest thing this generation has to a Don Rickles, and the best insult joke writer in the business. Jeff’s greatest majesty, his Mona Lisa, his Sistine Chapel of Snark occurred during a roast of Jerry Stiller. Sandra Bernhard took the stage and performed a bizarre musical number that left everyone a little creeped out. Ross was up next and he led with the line “Holy shit, Sandra Bernhard. I wouldn’t fuck you with Bea Arthur’s dick.” Bea, who of course was in the audience, gave him the patented Dorothy Zbornak death stare and roast history was made. Is this the sort of material that will have Fox making a mad dash to Jeff’s door? No. But it should be.
Obviously Ross would have to tone down his style for Idol, it’s a family show and he’d be judging harmless teenagers. But the show needs a harsh critic and it needs someone who can get a laugh. This season they tried out Ellen Degeneres, who clearly wanted nothing to do with negativity and created zero comedy. She’s an amazing comedian, but this was not the job for her. Jeff Ross however was born to tell people when their shit stinks, and exactly what it stinks of. I mean, if you’re gonna have judges, how about getting one who’s capable of passing judgement? Come on, how many times have you watched some delusional lunatic destroy a perfectly good song on Idol and wanted to punch them in the face? Well you can’t punch them in the face because that’s illegal. But Jeff can do more or less the same thing with a one-liner, and you’ll feel almost as satisfied. I promise.
American Idol’s ratings were already dipping last season, and it’s gonna get a lot worse if they replace Simon and Ellen with stunt-casted celebri-blands like J.Lo and Steven Tyler. If producers want to revitalize the show and make it truly interesting, they need unpredictable, they need edge. With Jeffrey Ross on the panel you’d get heaping spoonfuls of each. And wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, TV executives made a bold choice instead of the same old boring nonsense? Jeff thinks so, as he’s started his own campaign on Facebook. I’ve joined. How bout you?