Set List Bonus: The Rock & Roll Roast Of Dee Snider
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By Jamie Harvey
The refrain "I wanna rock" from the famed Twisted Sister anthem sails through my head at least once a week. This year's second annual Rock & Roll Roast, presented by Revolver and Guitar World, found Dee Snider, the vocalist who sang those very words, as the target for an onslaught of jokes and jabs all in good fun and to raise money for a great cause: MusiCares.
Before the roast began, I spoke with musicians and comedians such as Anthrax's Scott Ian, Lita Ford, Pantera's Rex Brown, and Zakk Wylde regarding their first memories of Snider. Some had tour war stories, but most spoke of having a fondness for the iconic "I Wanna Rock" video. While making his way down the red carpet, the music video's scary teacher, Mark Metcalf, shouted the famous "What do you want to do with your life?" line from the video, which made everyone turn and collectively shiver.
The stage at the Grove in Anaheim, Calif., was set for the celebrity roasters to take the stand and let it rip. Roast master and comedian/musician Penn Jillette kicked off the event by taking jabs at the honoree and the roasters: comedian/actor Jim Norton, Ian, last year's subject Wylde, comedian/TV personality Jim Florentine, Ford, comedian Craig Gass, radio host Eddie Trunk, and Snider's son Shane Snider. As the jabs continued throughout the night, Ford really got the brunt of the jokes as the only representing female.
When someone wasn't making fun of Snider's appearance, they made fun of what Twisted Sister lacks in the hits department. But the fact of the matter is that it only took those few hits (they had three songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100) to put Snider in the permanent consciousness of music fans. And Snider has parlayed his fame and success into other entertainment avenues. While the roasters gave it their best mock his stint on "Celebrity Apprentice" (he made it pretty far), or assisting Arnold Schwarzenegger in his campaign for California governor (he ended up winning), his part in the Broadway musical "Rock Of Ages" (which was well-reviewed), and his family life (he's been married for more than 30 years with four children), it proved difficult to find much to make fun of.
In the end, attendees shared a lot of laughs courtesy of musicians playing the role of comedian for an evening, and ultimately raised the level of respect for Dee Snider through hours worth of backhanded compliments.