The much-anticipated Comedy Central roast of Justin Bieber, as expected, drew strong viewing figures when it was broadcast on Monday evening. With ratings of 4.4 million from 10pm to midnight, it was the night’s top-rated program in most male demographics and ranks as the network’s third most-watched roast ever, according to Variety.

Featuring the comedian-of-the-moment Kevin Hart as the roast master, celebrities as varied as Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg queued up to aim zingers at the 21 year old, the youngest person ever to be roasted. Subjects included his love life, music and numerous scrapes with the law. Even Will Ferrell made a special appearance as his character Ron Burgundy from the hit comedy Anchorman!

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber was the subject of a well-received Comedy Central roast on Monday

The roast was taped two weeks ago on March 14th, and it caused some controversy at the time. One comedian made a crack about Paul Walker in reference to Bieber’s DUI arrest that was greeted with outrage by Furious 7 star Ludacris and many audience members. However, Comedy Central soon announced that it would be edited out when it came to the broadcast.

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In the history of Comedy Central roasts, only two telecasts have drawn higher viewing figures than Bieber’s. Charlie Sheen’s 2011 grilling was one of the televisual events of that year with 6.4 million viewers, in the immediate aftermath of his highly publicised exit from ‘Two and a Half Men’. Comedy and acting veteran Jeff Foxworthy was the other, in 2005.

Combined with Bieber’s apology for his previous behaviour at the end of the roast, the event was well received. However, a source close to the singer’s ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez told that the jokes about their relationship, a subject that the roasters seemed to continually revisit, revolted her.

“Selena thought most of the jokes were disgusting and just gross. She managed to watch the whole show, but wasn’t impressed,” the source said. Unfortunately, there’s always collateral damage to reputations and sensibilities at these sorts of events where bad taste is encouraged.

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