Vegetables: some people love them; most people hate them. Therefore, they make the perfect subject for a roast, both literally and comedically.
On March 25, Brooklyn’s Union Hall hosted “The Roast of Vegetables,” featuring an array of local comedians. Each comedian roasted a specific vegetable, lobbying insults and jabs at produce. Overall, the show was funny. It was packed with so many puns that it would make even the most diehard of comedy fans wilt.
The host, Zach Zimmerman, was friendly and upbeat. He was able to keep the audience laughing with subtle jabs at America’s most controversial food group. However, it wasn’t long before the puns kicked in and Zimmerman was inviting audience members to “be mean to greens,” “deflower cauliflower” and “turn up their noses at turnips.” At times, it wasn’t clear whether the audience should laugh or groan.
After an introduction, the first comedian, Eliza Cossio, took the stage to verbally combat cauliflower. Her set had a shaky start, with some of her jokes falling on deaf ears. However, she eventually found her stride, calling out the vegetable for being as boring as if “the DMV had to wait in line at the post office.”
Tommy McNamara was next to take the stage, singing a rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” but instead asking “Why don’t you taste like something celery?” He made some valid points, like how celery is really only good as a vehicle for peanut butter. His delivery and enthusiasm sold the song to the audience, even if the jokes weren’t always funny.
Jason Gilbert followed with a roast of arugula, or as he put it, a vegetable as disappointing as the C train. Gilbert’s witty and deadpan delivery kept the audience laughing. Later on, while roasting potatoes, he said that “if I wanted to be bored by an overplayed Irish export, I would have gone to a U2 concert.”
The pianist, Dave Holtz, taught everyone about the conspiracy behind America’s kale obsession, in a gut busting, paranoia-filled set. After listening to his hilarious explanation and catchy song about the nefarious plots of the American Kale Association, one might be inclined to believe his wild vegetable conspiracy.
Comedians impersonating squash and avocado came out to defend their produce brethren. However, their sets often dragged and didn’t deliver on the laughs like the other performers.
Mitra Jouhari and Halcyon Person were both slated to perform, but were unable to make it. Instead, they sent in recordings of their standup, which didn’t go over as well as if they had been there in person.
The show was surprisingly funny, considering the subject matter. While not all of the sets were successful, it was overall an entertaining evening. At times, there were too many puns, yet that seemed to be the point. In the end, it seemed as though the audience couldn’t decide whether they liked the show or not. Then again, that is how most people feel about vegetables.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 2 print edition. Email Lily Dolin at [email protected].