Instagram I @netflix.

This story contains spoilers

YOU DON’T HAVE to get too far into Netflix’s The Roast of Tom Brady to realise that it’s not going to pull any punches. In fact, you could argue, it dishes out many jokes that are below the belt – literally, in the case of Nikki Glaser’s plea to Brady to make her orgasm, or more figuratively, in the many pointed jabs about Brady’s ex-wife Gisele Bündchen leaving him for a jiu-jitsu instructor.

A sample: Kevin Hart telling Brady, “One of the smartest quarterbacks to ever play the game. How did you not see this coming? Eight fucking karate classes a day. Eight karate classes a day and she’s still a white belt.” Or, when Hart said, “When you got a chance to go 8-9, and all it will cost you is your wife and your kids . . . you gotta do what the fuck you gotta do, do you understand me? You gotta do it. Yeah, Tom! Fuck them kids.” Or Glaser on Brady’s TB12 line of supplements: “Do you guys know about his diet program? It is so strict. But if you follow it exactly as he does, you too can lose your family. And, seriously, you can lose so much family.”

Various other comedians, podcasters and celebrities, such as Andrew Schulz, Tony Hinchcliffe, Sam Jay, as well as Ben Affleck, Kim Kardashian and Dana White, took turns to pour shit on the quarterback and his teammates, with GOAT tight end (sorry Travis) Rob ‘Gronk’ Gronkowski coming in for some particularly withering one-liners about his intellect, or lack thereof. See Glaser on Brady losing $30m in crypto: “Tom what were you thinking? Even Gronk was like ‘Me know that’s not real money’,” becoming one of the more viral jokes to come out of the night.

The show has racked up over 14m views and occupied top spot on Netflix’s global top 10 for almost two weeks – it was dethroned last night by the new Ashley Madison doco – an indication of both Brady’s popularity as well as a substantial appetite to see him cop it.

But while the show has been a bona fide mega-hit, the fallout has been tough for Brady and his family. The former Patriots and Tampa Bay quarterback told the The Pivot Podcast he regrets agreeing to do the show due to the impact it’s had on his kids.

“I loved when the jokes were about me. I thought they were so fun,” Brady said. “I didn’t like the way that it affected my kids, so it’s the hardest part about like the bittersweet aspect of when you do something that you think is one way and then all of a sudden you realise, I wouldn’t do that again because of the way that affected actually the people that I care about the most in the world.”

He probably should have seen that coming but while his vision on the field is preternatural, Brady’s judgment off it is perhaps not as pin-sharp – he did lose $30m in crypto, after all. Anyway, you live and learn and you look at those seven – sorry, eight rings, Gisele gave hers back, thanks Nikki G – for solace.

In the broader cultural context, the show’s popularity could be a sign that roasts (a genre of comedy popular in the mid to late aughts) are back. Pulling back even further, after the onset of the cancellation era a decade ago, in which many comedians retreated into their shells, the show’s outsized success could indicate that edgier, more pointed comedy could also be set for a return.

Watching at home I frequently found myself slack jawed at the areas the roasters were going. Nothing was off-limits, which was certainly eyebrow raising, even if the number of jokes about blowjobs and dicks getting CTE did become a little tired after a while.

Whether comedy is in for a risqué renaissance or not, you can bet Netflix will be keen to begin pumping out similar live roasts with other celebs. There are likely a few already in the works but you have to ask whether the success of Brady’s roast is replicable? Firstly, it doesn’t take long for edgy comic fare to get old. What seemed refreshing in the Brady roast might quickly feel belaboured.

It’s also worth wondering whether such a no-holds-barred comic character assassination would work with someone who is not as obviously bulletproof as Brady. Handsome, successful – yes, seven fucking Superbowls – even the most pointed jabs slid right off him as he maintained a rigid shit-eating grin. It’s always fun to punch up, but how many celebs occupy the same stratosphere as Brady and are as self-assured as he is? The answer: not many.

Let’s start with sporting GOATS. Michael Jordan occupies a similar standing in both basketball and the broader cultural landscape to Brady but is too maniacally competitive and petty – see his decision to sever his friendship with Charles Barkley after objecting to his former pal’s fairly tame criticism of his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets – to endure being sling-shotted by a bunch of nerdy comics.

Lionel Messi is too meek to shape as a real target. In his preening athleticism and ongoing propensity for aesthetic self-immolation, Messi’s great rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, offers plenty of potential for comic gold. He just doesn’t seem to possess the baseline self-assurance of a Brady to endure a tag-teaming roster of comedians he’s never heard of sinking the boot in.

Novak Djokovic could possibly pull it off, but his embrace of the extremes of self-help perhaps makes him too problematic a character for comic dissection. He also lacks the crossover appeal to attract a mainstream audience. Federer is simply too clean and Nadal, probably too, er, Spanish. Nick Kyrgios, the guy who killed it in the commentary box at this year’s Oz Open and produced a well-received podcast, could work, though you suspect he is still too unpopular with too many Australians for a roast to truly work. The delicate alchemy of the roast dynamic requires the target to be popular but punchable, kooky but not too weird. Pouring shit or punching down on a perceived dickhead is just not the same.

In pop culture, Leo shapes as an obvious candidate – he has the requisite global mega stardom; it’s just hard to see him subjecting himself to a barrage of jokes about dating women under 25. Tom Cruise has the global appeal but again, is probably a little too weird for jokes to really land. Same goes for someone like Kanye, with the added complication of his mental health struggles and galactic-sized ego. Other musical candidates, like, say Diddy, have been cancelled already.

Indeed, the problem Netflix might face is that after the beating Brady took, there probably aren’t a lot of celebs putting their hands up for a verbal shellacking, at least right now. But money talks, even for those who don’t need it, and there are perhaps three candidates for whom I can see this working.

The first? Our own Chris Hemsworth. Astonishingly handsome with a Vader-like vocal register, Hemsworth seems to possess the self-assurance and ability to laugh at himself that’s a must for a good roast. He’s a good sport and if you make this a charity event, rather than a self-motivated money-spinner – in the words of Kevin Hart, “fuck you, Tom” – you could see our Thor being able to withstand a few comic hammers to the head.

The second is probably the most realistic: Becks. He’s basically the British Brady and revealed himself to have a sense of humour in last year’s delightful doco, Beckham, which incidentally was on Netflix, so there’s that.

The third candidate is more of a wish than a genuine suggestion but if you are looking for the ultimate example of a punch-up candidate, one who would break Netflix’s algorithm, then there’s really only one choice: Taylor Swift. Beautiful, successful beyond all measure and she at least seems to have a sense of humour, though you don’t want to get on her bad side – see the boos that greeted Kim K at the Brady roast.

The problem, of course, is that a legion of Swifties may be too collectively fragile to see their girl endure serial jibes about Travis being dumber than Gronk. But they would tune in regardless. To echo the classic roast catch cry: “Let’s fuckin’ go!”


Retired NFL great Tom Brady enters the English Football conversation

What I didn’t expect to learn from the Beckham documentary