“Fearlessness,” he says. “And maybe a little naiveté, because inevitably, I could get smacked at any time.”
Ross — who has blasted celebrities big (and not so big) at roasts honoring Joan Rivers, Hugh Hefner, Pamela Anderson, Jerry Stiller, Drew Carey, Shaquille O’Neal, David Hasselhoff and Charlie Sheen — brings his one-of-a-kind banter to Cobb’s Comedy Club this week.
In the fickle comedy landscape, the guy Donald Trump called a “one-man verbal assault unit” is at an all-time high. Not only has he been given the title Roastmaster General, his own show “The Burn,” in which he and guests skewer hot topics and current events, is a ratings winner on Comedy Central.
Funny enough, Ross, who hails from New Jersey, didn’t set out to be a comic. “Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be doing this,” he says. “I knew in my heart that it would be something different. I thought disc jockey or rock star or managing bands.”
His early influences were Steve Martin and Cheech & Chong, along with family members. He credits longtime pal Mark Chapin, who co-produced the documentary “Patriot Act:” A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie” about his life-changing experience entertaining U.S. troops stationed around Iraq, for nudging him toward comedy.
“I was 23 and I was sort of this chubby loser living at home with my grandfather,” he says. “Mark said, ‘You should try a stand-up comedy class’ and it was just the kick in the pants I needed.”
He has new material for his show in The City: “I am bringing my guitar and trying some roasting folk songs for the first time. San Francisco will be the true test to see if these songs are working,” he says.
Audience members also will be asked to hit the stage for a mini-grilling.
In his roast of Rivers, whom he called so old, “when you Google her you can find her on Craigslist and ‘Schindler’s List,’” he also thanked her for showing him how to enjoy the process of doing comedy.
He gives a similar answer when asked what keeps him going.
“Somewhere along the line somebody told me, ‘enjoy the process.’ Those are words that I live by,” he says. “No matter how hard life gets — the ups and the downs — don’t get too up and don’t get too down. Enjoy the process. Actually, it might have been me who told me that!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Cobb’s Comedy Club, 915 Columbus Ave., S.F.
When: 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (415) 928-4320, www.cobbscomedyclub.com