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Jeffrey Ross pokes fun at mayors, the Queen, a Cubs pitcher at ‘Just for Laughs’

Jeffery Ross ridiculed mayors Cubs pitcher Queen Talk Vic Friday night. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Jeffery Ross ridiculed the mayors, a Cubs pitcher and the Queen of Talk at the Vic on Friday night. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:22AM

Caustic comedian Jeffrey Ross tore Chicago a new manhole Friday night as part of the town’s annual “Just For Laughs” comedy festival. Appearing before what looked to be a sellout or near-sellout crowd at the Vic Theatre, the so-called “Roastmaster General” did what he does best: Make fun of everything and everyone in a profane and no-holds-barred style that’s made him a darling of Comedy Central, where he’s laid low such luminaries as William Shatner and David Hasselhoff.

As if to set a tone for the evening, which included sporadic electric guitar accompaniment, the shaggy-haired and putty-faced Ross emerged onstage following rapping opener Zach Sherwin (aka “MC Mr. Napkins”) to cheers and applause and tugged at his crotch. Scanning the room, he zeroed in on a guy in the box seats off to one side. “Give it up,” he announced, “for this ass---- in shorts in the balcony.”

Others in the audience, including 13 people who voluntarily went onstage to be publicly pelted, were the eventual victims of Ross’s often crass and biting barbs as the night wore on. An overweight (and very game) woman with a Mohawk was repeatedly referred to as a “beast.” A tall and muscled guy from Canada was pegged as gay (Ross went to the gay well several times and always got laughs). Every female was the subject of sexual come-ons unprintable here. So were some of the guys.

The city itself took slings and arrows aplenty — not all of which hit the bull’s-eye. A gag about mayors with phallic-sounding names (Dick Daley, Rahm Emanuel) seemed too easy. So did one about serving deep-dish pizza bagels during Emanuel’s tenure. Because, you know, he’s Jewish.

Then Ross hit a nerve. Is Chicago called the Windy City, he wondered, “because your sports teams blow so hard?” Playful (he surely hoped) boos briefly blended with the laughter. Ross even brought Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster up for needling. “Opie with an arm,” he called the redheaded slinger as Dempster sat in a chair and calmly took his beating. “The Chicago Bears have a better chance of winning a World Series,” Ross proclaimed. He also told Dempster: “You choke harder than David Carradine.” (Um, Google it).

Oprah Winfrey absorbed a couple of blows in absentia. “Chicago got a lot less Windy without that f------ Oprah around,” Ross said with his trademark easygoing delivery. “She was like the Fidel Castro of talk show hosts. ‘You’re going to have to pry this microphone out of my cold, dead fingers.’”

And this cheaper shot: “When I found out that a cow started the Chicago fire, I was surprised, because I didn’t think Oprah was alive in 1871.”

Chicago’s collective weight problem was a big target. “I’m not going to say people in Chicago are fat,” Ross said, “but they’re shooting ‘Whale Wars’ here next season.”

The zinging of famous dead dudes — Hitler, Lincoln, Michael Jackson, Gary Coleman — from behind a podium and a string of decidedly unpoetic “poems” comprised the least effective parts of Ross’ show.

Still, guts got busted and sides were split. And Ross obviously felt the love. As he announced toward the start of his set, indicating an urge to get freaky with the room as a whole, “I feel like making a love child now.”

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