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Big Papi roast host warns: ‘You save the meanest jokes for the people you really like’

Josh Wolf and David Ortiz at the 2016 David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in the Dominican Republic.Pete Staples

David Ortiz will be remembered for many things, including clutch hits, and those infectious smiles and laughs . Those hits will be honored Friday night when Ortiz gets his No. 34 jersey retired. His humor will be honored Thursday night, when Big Papi becomes the subject of a comedy roast at the House of Blues. The event, which will benefit Ortiz’s Children’s Fund, is set to feature appearances from Dustin Pedroia, Rob Gronkowski, Bill Burr, Lenny Clarke, Sarah Tiana, Anthony Mackie, and Josh Wolf. We caught up over the phone with Wolf, a 42-year-old Amherst native, to see if he’s ready to roast the Boston legend.

Q. So how’d you get this gig in the first place?


A. I’ve worked with the Children’s Fund for a couple years now, so I called Tiffany, David’s wife, and one of the other women who was on the board, and I said, “Hey, instead of another gala, do you want a new fun way to raise some money?” They were like, “Yeah, yeah,” so I said, “Well, what if I put together a roast?”

Q. So you’re pretty familiar with Ortiz then?

A. Oh yeah, I’ve been doing his [charity] golf tournament for a couple years. He’s a super good guy. You know, I live in Hollywood, and they say that fame turns a person into an [expletive]. I say, success and money just amplify who you are. If you were a little bit of an [expletive] before, then you’re going to be a big [expletive]. But David is just a good dude. The more success and fame he got, the better of a guy he became.

Q. Do you have any prior experience roasting people?

A. I’ve never done a roast, but I grew up with three older brothers, so that was pretty good training.


Q. Are you worried about crossing a line?

A. [Laughs] No, no. This is a roast, you know? Anyone who comes and gets offended, that’s their problem. Somebody said to me, “Oh, I hope that you guys don’t go overboard,” and I was like, “You’ve clearly never seen a roast.” The whole thing is overboard. I mean, the idea that someone is on a stage for an hour and a half to get made fun of is crazy in of itself, and David knows that, so I’m not worried.

Q. Are you guys planning on getting kind of mean?

A. What was it that Jeffrey Ross said? You only roast the ones you love? It is what it is. I always said: You save the meanest jokes for the people you really like. Because you can. You don’t put that much time or effort into someone you don’t like.

Q. On a different note, I’m guessing that you’re a Sox fan.

A. Oh, a huge one.

Q. All right, then I have to ask: What do you think of this year’s team?

A. I mean, I think they gotta start swinging the bats. And they eventually will. Papi’s in pretty good shape! I’m not saying he should play in July, but why not, you know? He already got his retirement gifts, he can hold on to those, play just half a season. Look, on paper, with this team and this starting pitching, they should be really good. But here’s the thing: I didn’t grow up with the Red Sox winning all the time. I just expect the worst, even after three World Series. Something is in my DNA where I’m like, “Well something bad is going to happen.” I do love that the Yankees are good again this year; I think that rivalry is good for baseball and the Red Sox. Before 2004, when my New York friends would be like, “Yeah this is a great rivalry.” I would say, “That’s easy for you to say, you’re not crying every year.” But now that we’ve evened it out, I think we could have a real rivalry now. We just need one of the Yankees to be a giant [expletive]. Aaron Judge is just too nice.


Interview was edited and condensed. Alex Frandsen can be reached at alexander.frandsen@globe.com.