Over a thousand pack SF theater for roast of legendary actor

Bruce Campbell is a cult icon.

Over 4 a long time in the past, he grew to become the star of “The Evil Lifeless” — a challenge that began along with his school buddies Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert at Michigan State, caught the eye of Stephen King and have become one of the crucial profitable low-budget horror movies ever made. It spawned a TV present, comedian books, video video games, a stage musical and 4 sequels — one in every of which might be launched this April. In the meantime, Campbell grew to become the stuff of video retailer legend, portraying a mummy-battling Elvis Presley (“Bubba Ho-Tep”), a cussed theater usher who refuses to seat Peter Parker in “Spider-Man,” and a boomstick-toting ironmongery store clerk who travels again in time to battle a military of the undead (“Military of Darkness”), with a few kids’s films thrown in there, too (Disney’s “Sky Excessive” and the animated adaptation of the kids’s e book “Cloudy With a Probability of Meatballs”).

And on Saturday night time, over a thousand individuals packed the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco to see a star-studded panel of fellow actors and comedians hurl insults at him for 2 hours throughout a sold-out roast at Sketchfest.

Dana Gould of “The Simpsons” served because the host, alongside a roster of roasters that included San Francisco-born character actor Kevin Pollak (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) and David Alan Grier (“Jumanji”), in addition to horror heavy hitters Cassandra Peterson (you would possibly know her as Elvira, Mistress of the Darkish), drag icon and co-host of the “Midnight Mass” podcast Peaches Christ, and Dana DeLorenzo, who stars in “Ash vs. The Evil Lifeless.” Sadly, the roast had been delayed twice because of the pandemic, and several other anticipated company like Kane Hodder (Jason from the “Friday the thirteenth” franchise), Jennifer Tilly (of “Bride of Chucky” fame) and Ted Raimi needed to again out. However the competition actually rolled with the punches.

Campbell, the goal of the night, sauntered throughout the stage to uproarious applause. He adjusted his collar with a dramatic aptitude, took a sip from the can of Liquid Demise on the rostrum in entrance of him and cleared his throat because the viewers grew silent. The entire room appeared to be ready for him to drop one in every of his legendary one-liners.

His eyes darted throughout the auditorium, milking the second earlier than he lastly spoke.

“Good night time, all people,” he stated in his signature deadpan supply.

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Throughout his opening remarks, Campbell thanked the group and the late Sydney Goldstein, who had rehabilitated and reopened the long-dormant venue in 2013, christening it the brand new house of Metropolis Arts & Lectures.

“No s—t. With out her, this may nonetheless be an area filled with dusty file packing containers and crumbling furnishings with no seats or sound. So thanks, Syd. Right here it’s, 97 years later,” Campbell stated. “At all times assist the traditional, creaking theaters, as a result of they are going to tear them down in case you don’t assist them.”

Whether or not he knew it or not, it was a press release that particularly resonated with the viewers after the current removing of the historic signal on the Alexandria Theater and forward of the looming historic preservation fee listening to that will decide the way forward for the Castro Theatre.

However the sentimentality didn’t final lengthy.

“I’m not going to mislead you. I’m just a little disturbed that folks would present up tonight and pay to see me roasted in agony,” he joked.

Gould began with a number of softballs, the primary being extra of a dig at a widely known disgraced comic than anybody else.

“In ‘Evil Lifeless,’ ‘Evil Lifeless II’ and ‘Military of Darkness,’ Bruce performed Ash, a person who wreaked havoc and destruction with only one hand,” Gould stated. “These movies had been later tailored right into a tv collection referred to as ‘Louis.’”

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Gould additionally made enjoyable of Campbell’s in depth use of filters on social media and referred to the star’s lesser-known roles in “The Love Bug,” “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” and “Maniac Cop” (“or as we name them at present, cops,” he quipped), lauding the star as a “renaissance man.”

“By which I imply he’s extremely previous,” Gould stated. “However he’s growing older like a wonderful wine, largely out of the general public view.”

Comic and author Nick Sahoyah — who wore an indication round his neck pretending to be lacking visitor Ted Raimi — took jabs at not solely Campbell’s oft-discussed seems to be but in addition the time he appeared in an Previous Spice business singing “Hungry Just like the Wolf“ by Duran Duran.

“What an effective way to promote out whereas concurrently asserting your cultural irrelevance,” Sahoyah stated. “Bruce and Duran Duran have so much in widespread. They had been each tremendous well-liked within the ‘80s, and now nobody can work out why.”

Sahoyah then mirrored on Campbell’s function within the Nineties-era tv collection “Xena: Warrior Princess,” particularly two of the episodes he directed.

“It’s actually spectacular,” Sahoyah stated. “It’s sort of like that point Quentin Tarantino directed an episode of ‘CSI,’ aside from Quentin Tarantino is an effective director, and ‘CSI’ is a present that folks watch.”

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The loudest cheers of the night time got here when Peterson took the stage. Surprisingly, her finest diss was not directed at Campbell however at Pollak.

“Kevin was born and raised in San Francisco,” she started. “Identical to our Senator Dianne Feinstein. And on behalf of everybody in California, I’d identical to to say to you what we’d all prefer to say to Senator Feinstein: Please, for the love of God, retire already.”

When Pollak was up, he claimed Campbell had been solid in a coveted function within the “Avatar” movie franchise however that director James Cameron needed to discover another person for the half as a result of “the expertise didn’t but exist to make him a superb actor.” He additionally referred to an elusive movie Campbell appeared in referred to as “18 1/2” — elusive as a result of it could possibly be seen solely on airways.

“On JetBlue, it was solely taking part in on flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles, so that you wanted a spherical journey to see the entire thing,” he stated.

DeLorenzo launched herself as Campbell’s “f-bomb slinging sidekick” Kelly Maxwell from “Ash vs. Evil Lifeless,” however she wasn’t precisely bragging.

“Everybody is aware of that ‘Evil Lifeless’ was the beginning of Bruce’s profession,” she stated. “What I did not know was that it will be the tip of mine.”

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One of many funniest jabs of the night time got here from Grier, who referred to himself because the “Sketchfest range rent” and commented on how white the panel was: “‘Military of Darkness’ it’s not,” he stated. “It’s extra like the military of albinos that includes one Italian girl.”

And the shadiest digs got here from Christ, who in contrast Campbell’s profession to Pompei (“it’s actually simply all about Ash”) and even lampooned his initials, which she identified had been ironic for his age: B.C.

“I’m not going to say that I need him to injure himself with a chainsaw ever, you realize, however when requested to advocate a security coordinator on the brand new ‘Evil Lifeless’ film, I did advocate Alec Baldwin,” she stated, inflicting Campbell to cover his face as the group groaned in disbelief.

Campbell shot again with what at first appeared like a praise, stating that she has been a pillar of the San Francisco underground group for many years.

“The important thing phrases are has been,” he stated.

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Ultimately, Campbell opened up the roast to the viewers, asking them to shout out the identify of one in every of his movies that they wished their a refund for. He turned his again, and the response was an on the spot cacophony, with each title indiscernible. So Campbell requested one individual to determine themselves and communicate up.

The reply got here from somebody within the balcony, who referred to as out “My Identify Is Bruce,” a comedy Campbell directed and starred in about life as a washed-up B-movie star who’s recruited by a gaggle of youngsters to fend off a real-life monster.

“You need your a refund?” Campbell responded, flashing a toothy grin. “You realize, it’s actually sufficient of this silly recreation, as a result of individuals are going to call each film I ever did.”

Sketchfest is working by means of Feb. 5, 2023.