Kirk Roccaforte, mayor of Bridge City, was honored with a hurricane theme at the 9th Celebrity Roast, sponsored by the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce at the Bridge City Community Center on the evening of October 22. Former County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, left, gave Roccaforte and “autographed” photo from former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. RECORD PHOTO: David Ball

David Ball – For The Record

The timing was ironic.

Kirk Roccaforte, mayor of Bridge City, was honored with a hurricane theme at the 9th Celebrity Roast, sponsored by the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce at the Bridge City Community Center on the evening of October 22 while Hurricane Patricia was about to make landfall in Mexico. Roccaforte was a city councilman during Hurricane Rita and mayor during Hurricane Ike.

Everyone had a good time poking fun at each other. The event started with Rev. Jack Comer Circle Drive Baptist Church giving the invocation. Introductions of the roasters were given by Scot Shaffer, chamber president- Judge Carl Thibodeaux, Judge Don Burgess, Bobbie Burgess, Kevin Mott, and David Ess. The Master of Ceremonies was Mike Hatton. Mayor Roccaforte also got a chance to make a rebuttal after some friendly exchanges.

Others who have been roasted in the past were recognized as well.

Hatton started off the jokes by saying Hatton (named after a family member) and Sims Elementary Schools were torn down during his administration.

The first of the roasters was former mayor, Bobbie Burgess. She said one of the hardest things she has ever done was doing this roast.

“How in the world do you do a roast? I googled roasting speeches. If we were doing Shirley (Roccaforte’s wife) I could talk about our Thelma and Louise escapades. Kirk is the straight man in that comedy act (his marriage to Shirley), because Kirk is boring,” Bobbie said.

She then shared some of the things she found on her google search.

The first recommendation is to pick the right candidate for a roast. She said because Roccaforte is the candidate, it will be a very short night.

The second recommendation is to choose the right roasters. Bobbie said Kevin Mott is the only entertainer on the panel.

The third recommendation is to dig for material. However, Roccaforte is so shallow, things sank to the bottom “real fast.”

The fourth recommendation is to acquire professional material. Bobbie said some of the material she found she couldn’t tell the audience.

The fifth recommendation is to watch your time. They suggest speaking from five to seven minutes. She said Roccaforte is so empty-headed, she would be repeating herself and there would be an echo effect in Roccaforte’s head. Bobbie added she could call Kirk a pain in the neck but the pain would actually be much lower.

The sixth recommendation is to have a heart. She said Kirk is dedicated, loyal, and Bridge City is a better place because of him. He’s also a devoted friend and family man and Shirley is lucky because Kirk is devoted to her.

“I’m honored and proud to call you a friend,” Bobbie said.

Former councilman Kevin Mott was next on the list.

Mott said he was elected to the council to keep an eye on Roccaforte and tell him what to say. During Hurricane Ike, he saw the best in Roccaforte outweigh the worst.

He said the FEMA trailer they were housed in was pretty nice, but Roccaforte had to keep a night light on because he was scared. Mott added if he lived with Shirley he would leave the light on too.

Mott said Roccaforte would reach out with his hand while he was asleep and he wanted Mott to hold it because Judge Thibodeaux wasn’t there to hold it.

Roccaforte was temporarily blind after Ike he told Mott he needed to be checked out, but not to make a big deal of it. Mott said the next thing he saw were a bunch of paramedics and firefighters coming in to look after Roccaforte. He joked there were two “hot” paramedics treating Roccaforte but since he blind, he couldn’t see them anyway.

He was also there when Roccaforte called Michael Chertoff, homeland security secretary, a “SOB.”

Mott and Roccaforte were also pulled over after curfew, a curfew set by Roccaforte. The state trooper made sure Roccaforte knew it was the curfew he set he was violating.

In conclusion, Mott said it’s a blessing to know Roccaforte. He also spoke of his good work ethic and his honesty, he being a father, a husband, and a dear friend.

Next, it was Judge Don Burgess’s turn to speak.

He said people would be having a much better time and the jokes would be funnier if they get liquored up.

Don joked they were scraping the bottom of the barrel by roasting Roccaforte.

“I thought we were roasting (City Manager) Jerry Jones because Kirk always says ‘He thinks he’s mayor,'” he said.

He said Roccaforte has been a mechanic for 340 years, but that was just an estimate.

Don summed up his comments by saying Roccaforte was a good guy.

Roccaforte’s golf pro and golfing buddy, had his turn.

He said Roccaforte loves sex and golf. He’s lousy at both but he still enjoys them. He said Roccaforte joined a bridge club, he thinks Roccaforte jumps next Tuesday.

The way Roccaforte plays golf it would be a sin on any day and not just Sunday. In fact, a golf pro told him to keep his head down when he swings so Roccaforte won’t see him laughing at him.

Ess wrapped things up by saying Roccaforte has a wonderful family and he has done much for the city.

Thibodeaux spoke last for the roasters. He joked Roccaforte was so unpopular, he had to get his own sponsors. He then read a letter from a “mystery” guest who could make it to the roast.

The letter started by the writer saying he still didn’t know where Bridge City was and he heard Roccaforte is still mayor.

The writer recalled the flight with Roccaforte on the Blackhawk helicopter and the foul names and rough language Roccaforte used because he wouldn’t fly over Bridge City after Hurricane Ike. Also, when Roccaforte told the writer of the letter “That SOB can get his a** to Bridge City if he knows where it is,” at a town hall meeting.

The writer blamed all the mistakes made after Ike on FEMA. However, the writer of the letter was the head of FEMA. Thibodeaux then read the writer of the letter sent Roccaforte “A token of my love”- an “autographed” photograph of Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security.

Thibodeaux finished by saying he would go to battle with Roccaforte any time.

Hatton, the MC, said he couldn’t have better friends than Roccaforte and Shirley.

It was finally Roccaforte’s turn to reply.

He first thanked his family for everything.

To Bobbie, he said she was the only person he knew that cleaned up and dressed up to go to Walmart after mowing the lawn.

He thanked her for bringing him forward and everything she has done for the city.

He reminded Mott how his truck wouldn’t start after Ike and how he left him alone with Chertoff. And though he has a reputation as a “great planner,” he forgot his keys to his deer lease after driving there.

Roccaforte said Mott is an asset to the city and a really great friend.

He told Don he lets Bobbie buy top of the line Walmart clothes.

Roccaforte thanked him for bringing up points to the other side of issues and doing the right thing.

Ess and Roccaforte have had some “very good discussions” about a variety of topics, but he won’t give him golf lessons because he doesn’t want Roccaforte to be as good as he is.

Ess will do anything for the school district, the city, or for anyone in need.

“He’s a mentor to many. He’s a great golfer, person, and friend,” Roccaforte said.

To Thibodeaux, he said the county judge was the reason the “letter” happened. Roccaforte explained following Ike they had to travel to Beaumont often for meetings. Roccaforte and Thibodeaux became tired of driving to Beaumont. Thibodeaux, speaking of Chertoff, said “if that SOB wants to talk to us he can come here.”

Roccaforte said Thibodeaux fired him up and why he spoke to Chertoff the way he did.

He told Thibodeaux to laughter FEMA was invited to the roast and they will arrive next week.

Thibodeaux joked Chertoff was surrounded with men carrying firearms because they were watching Roccaforte.

Roccaforte said Ike was a trying time and Thibodeaux was the person to have as judge during times such as those.

He told Hatton though there a many things in Bridge City named Hatton, the city is trying to change that.

Roccaforte said he’s honored they’re friends and he appreciated the roast.

The event sponsors were the city of Bridge City, Orange County Navigation and Port District, Dr. Fred Zoch Family Dentistry, Bridge City Radiator & Automotive, Bridge City Bank, Nickum State Farm Agency, Sabine Federal Credit Union, Karen Collier-Edward Jones, Sabine River Ford, Granger Chevrolet, and Bridge City ISD.

The event committee consisted of Jerry Jones, co-chair; Shirley Zimmerman, co-chair; Beverly Perry, Scot Shaffer, and Michael Hanneman. The meal was catered by Hushpuppy Seafood & Catering, sports memorabilia auction by Don Bonnin; videographer Joe Shannon; and photographer Chris Slaughter.