Roast

A roast is an event, almost exclusively in the United States, in which an individual is subjected to a public presentation of comedic insults, praise, outlandish true and untrue stories, and heartwarming tributes, the implication being that the roastee is able to take the jokes in good humor and not as serious criticism or insult, and therefore, show their good nature.

It is seen by some as a great honor to be roasted, as the individual is surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers, who can receive some of the same treatment as well during the course of the evening. The party and presentation itself are both referred to as a ‘roast.’ The host of the event is called the ‘roastmaster.’ Anyone who is honored in such a way is said to have been ‘roasted.’

Dean Martin hosted a series of roasts on television in 1974 as part of the final season of his self-titled variety show. After the show was cancelled, NBC decided to schedule a series of ‘The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast’ specials from the former MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (now Bally’s Las Vegas) in the Ziegfeld Room through 1984. The humor at these broadcast tributes was far tamer than the sometimes extremely vulgar and explicit language of the private, non-televised ones.

The ‘Comedy Central’ TV channel occasionally broadcasts roasts of celebrities as well as comedians, both some of the Friars’ Club and their own. The White House Correspondents’ Association and Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association have annual dinners that, in some years, feature a comedy roasting of the U.S. President.

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