The Jokes About Rob Lowe’s Sex Tape From His Comedy Central Roast Kept The Target Off His Partner
The Comedy Central Roasts aren't known for being careful with delicate, sensitive topics, and that's why they sometimes get huge laughs. When the network turned its attention to roasting Rob Lowe, one thing that came up in nearly every single set was Rob Lowe's sex tape with an underage partner. That's a topic that's easy to get into dangerous territory with. But, most of the jokes kept things in a deeply politically incorrect, but technically on-topic territory, making the target of the joke Lowe, for choosing to have sex with a minor, and profiting from his continued fame after the event — rather than mocking the woman in question. But, it was brought up again and again, reminding the audience not just of Lowe's misconduct, but also the woman's trauma from 1988, putting the topic in grey territory. Different comedians had different takes on the topic, and dealt with it in different manners.
Lowe's recorded sex tape with Jan Parsons, who was then 16, leaked in 1988. She then filed a civil suit which Lowe's lawyers settled by paying "an undisclosed sum to Jan Parsons and her father," according to People. Lowe acknowledged the sex tape in a 2011 interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying he was grateful the scandal happened because it helped him get on a better path. "It ends up being the greatest thing that ever happened to me," he told Winfrey, according to the Daily Mail. "Because what it ends up doing is accelerating my alcohol [addiction] to where I finally get sober. I have been able to have the rest of my life that I'm so blessed with, which is now 20 years of sobriety."
Some, like Ralph Macchio and David Spade chose to focus their jokes on how many chances Hollywood has given Lowe to fail despite his past, making the punchline of the joke their own petty career jealousy and even a subtle way to dig at the way that a man who's had a sex tape scandal was able to continue his career uninterrupted, something that would almost certainly never happen to a female star. Others simply went with one-liners that weren't particularly memorable, but also at least didn't focus on the women in the tape.
However, the female comedians had the most unique viewpoint on the issue. Both Nikki Glaser and Jewel mocked the way Lowe took advantage of a young woman by thinking how they would feel in her shoes. Jewel even performed a whole song about that exact subject, singing in the first person as if she was the 16-year-old from the sex tape. She wasn't, by the way, which the rest of her performance made clear. But, it may have been the most unconventional way to broach to topic. Besides this GIF that Comedy Central kept posting on Twitter all night.
Lowe didn't address the tape during his set, in either a joking or a serious way, and perhaps that's because he wanted to be respectful to those who appeared in the tape with him, because he didn't find it funny, or because his celebratory tone seemed completely out of touch if he was going to bring up something this sensitive.
While the writers of The Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe certainly weren't looking to be progressive in their jokes, particularly in their treatment of Lowe's sex tape, they also managed to avoid writing anything that would get them into too much hot water by sticking to jokes about their subject — not his sex partners.