Historical Roasts season 1, episode 5 recap: Cleopatra


Episode 5 of Netflix’s Historical Roasts looks at the complicated life of Egyptian ruler Cleopatra, featuring Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and goddess Isis.

[Note: We don’t wish to spoil every single joke from Historical Roasts, so we’re largely going to focus on the historical aspects of the episode, and its basic highlights.]

Jeff Ross introduces Historical Roasts by noting that Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator (Ayden Mayeri) reminds him of his great-grandmother, Rosie. Ross also notes that, yes, Cleopatra married two of her brothers! This was common practice among royal families “to preserve the purity of their bloodline.” Ross theorizes that she was from southern Egypt, adding that she visited incestry-com (to give you a taste of the jokes Historical Roasts offers).

There are plenty of other interesting details covered. For example, Cleopatra at one point smuggled herself into Caesar’s palace by rolling herself up in a rug. Also, with Julius Caesar (Ryan Phillippe) assassinated, Cleopatra married Mark Antony (Ken Marino). The two later committed suicide, after being defeated by Octavian in the Battle of Actium. When Julius Caesar speaks, he mentions that he killed Cleopatra’s brother in the Nile river.

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Death by snake bite?

Historical Roasts humorously addresses the myth that Cleopatra killed herself by snake bite. Donnell Rawlings appears as “Aspy Larry,” a play on his character of Ashy Larry from Chappelle’s Show. Saying things like “Snake don’t flake” and “snake lives matter,” he comments on “anti-snake bias in the media.” In truth, it’s not known if Cleopatra killed herself literally with an Egyptian cobra. It’s commonly believed she probably injected herself with a poisoned needle instead, rather than be displayed as a conquered enemy in Octavian’s parade.

Historical Roasts also notes that Mark Antony escaped Rome by dressing as a slave. In addition to taking Rom from an oligarchy to the autocratic Roman empire, Antony tells some of the best jokes of the episode. For example, regarding Cleopatra, he says: “Her bed is like Olive Garden: When you’re there, you’re family.” He also suggests that Jeff Ross could have kept lions fed for a month. William Shakespeare (Rory Scovel) makes a surprise appearance, too, as he’s been accused of downplaying her accomplishments in his works. In response, he says he wrote “dumb plays for poor people” and that theater’s not supposed to be educational.

The ladies speak

Near the end, Isis (Bridget Everett) — the goddess of fertility — speaks. She notes how Cleopatra claimed to be her and that Julius Caesar was stabbed by 60 people! However, she’s disappointed that Cleopatra has a greater legacy than her. Whereas everyone’s heard of Cleopatra, everyone now assumes Isis is “al-Qaeda the sequel.” When Cleopatra steps up, she notes that Caesar’s Palace is still the third best-selling casino in Vegas and how she was the commander of a naval fleet.

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Ultimately, this episode does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and probably by offending far fewer people than previous installments would have, given how ancient these historical figures are. Of course, someone out there may have hissed and booed, but that’s true of nearly everything.

What are your thoughts on Historical Roasts? Let us know in the comments!