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The Roast
No fools were pitied during the filming of this event.

In comedy, The Roast is a specific kind of comedy performance. Typically mixed with a banquet, the Roast is, at its basest, where one comic (or other kind of personality/celebrity) is brought on stage to be made fun of by a collection of his/her closest friends. The standardbearers for the Roast are the New York Friar's Club, who have been roasting celebrities since the early 1950s. Only rarely have these been seen by the rest of the world, either in video offers seen on late-night TV or through Comedy Central, who got the rights to broadcast a few of them in the early 2000s. Another series of roasts were hosted by Dean Martin in the 1970s (he was the roastmaster for all of them), and recently revived thanks to those late night Infomercials by Guthy-Renker.

While it may look and feel spontaneous, it really isn't. The Roastee has just as much say in the creative process as the producers, including choosing a Roastmaster (Master of Ceremonies who fires the first salvos at the Roastee and introduces the other guests) and other Roasters. Comedy Central roastees include Denis Leary, Jeff Foxworthy, Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Flavor Flav, Bob Saget, Larry The Cable Guy, Joan Rivers, David Hasselhoff, Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, Roseanne Barr and James Franco.

Well known regular Roast events include:
  • The Friar's Club. One of the most famous yearly roasts of all time. It is an enormous honor to be roasted by them because, as the Friar's Club motto states, they only do this for the ones they love. Unless you're Chevy Chase (then they really hate you).
  • Comedy Central Presents The Roast of... Comedy Central's yearly roast of a famous celebrity, probably the most well-known of the current era. CC used to run The Friar's Club roasts for years before switching to their own.
  • Additionally, Comedy Central ran a show called The Burn hosted by Jeff Ross for a few years, which was essentially Ross using his roasting skills on current events, the panel of celebrities that episode (who also participated) and the audience.
  • The Golden Gods Awards Roast of... Heavy metal magazine Metal Hammer's annual metal awards has done a roast of a well-known metal personality in conjuction with the ceremony in the last few years.
  • Ring Roasts is a pro wrestling version done by You Shoot Productions.

Common Tropes:

  • Acceptable Targets: Watching any roast would lead you to believe everyone, even people not present at the roast, is an Acceptable Target. However, some things get edited out because the roastee took offence to them.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: A common motif among both roastees and roasters. A particular nasty zing will get a momentary panged look, then followed by hysterics.
    • Lisa Lampanelli practically lives this. She's one of the most common roasters and has probably received more insults collectively than anyone ever (to the point the roasters claim they are having harder and harder times coming up with new material for her, you can only bash someone's looks, weight, and penchant for black men so much before the well runs dry), and without fail she laughs the hardest at it.
    • Andy Dick regularly protests any and all homosexual jokes. However, there's been at least one time when he's cracked a smile.
      • Not just that. Andy acted pissy over every single joke at his expense during the Pamela Anderson roast....except when Sarah Silverman performed
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Greg Giraldo uses this joke regularly when mentioning female roasters.
    (about Farah Fawcett) "That poster of you in the bathing suit ... That poster caused more seed to be spilled than a crime lab technician with Parkinson's Disease."
  • The Alcoholic: A lot of roasters make jokes about other roasters who've had established drinking problems.
  • Bait and Switch: Common enough. One notable example:
    Seth MacFarlane: Tonight we honour a self-made millionaire. He started with nothing, worked hard and made a fortune. That man is Fred Trump, Donald (Trump's) dad."
    • Anthony Jesselnik's entire stand-up routine pretty much lives on this.
  • But Seriously Folks: The greater majority of the Roasters' routines ends with several endearing remarks about the Roastee.
    • Lisa Lampanelli actually subverts this. She'll say the endearing remarks in full honesty, but use them as a setup for a final zinger. About Jeff Foxworthy, she mentioned how he was able to become the most successful comic in the world without being dirty, mean, or sleazy, ending with "Thanks for fucking it up for the rest of us." Similarly, when mentioning that Pamela Anderson was able to be such a beautiful, good-hearted class act, ended with, "Knock it off, bitch, you're making me look like a foul-mouthed cunt.
    • Greg Giraldo did on one occasion as well, combining with Self-Deprecation during the roast of Larry The Cable Guy. "In all seriousness, you make more in a week than I will in my life. You may not have done drugs, but your act put me in rehab twice so thanks for ripping my soul out, you hillbilly fuck!"
    • The entirety of Gene Simmons' rebuttal. He had a script ready to go to get back at his roasters, but began talking about the charity the roast was for (Wounded Warriors) and got so choked up he tossed it out totally and did a serious call to action for the charity and simply thanked the dais.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Larry King confused a lot of people at Trump's roast by acting like it was an episode of his talk show. He'd deliver the jokes but would occasionally randomly blurt out things like "Caller, you're on the air."
    • They also had Gary Busey show up, who lampshaded his loopy reputation by saying "Do you know who I am? Well, would you mind telling me?" He then proceeded to roast himself as if he were a separate person, fully embracing the bit (Lisa Lampanelli was furious about this. In a behind the scenes video, she mentioned how she had so much material ready for when he crashed and burned, and when he didn't, it was worthless.)
      Gary: (pointing) How'd they manage to get Gary Busey out here tonight?
      (Camera shows his empty seat on the dais. Everyone else starts laughing)
  • Cluster F-Bomb: And the bleeped versions might be even funnier.
  • Country Matters: Occasionally. Examples are in But Seriously Folks, and also this:
    Artie Lang: "A lot of people might say, 'Why hit Janeane (Garofalo)? She's not here to defend herself' and the answer's simple. I've met Janeane Garofalo and she's a fucking cunt."
  • Crosses the Line Twice (and thrice, four times, five times, six times...)
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The Pamela Anderson roast is notorious for Courtney Love spending the length of the special completely smashed.
    • Especially because she claimed repeatedly that she'd been clean and sober for over a year, which led to more than one person saying what amounted to, "Honey, if you're not on drugs, you should be."
    • Scott Hall was similarly smashed and belligerant at The Iron Sheik's roast and had to be escorted out.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Few of the roastees seem to get genuinely hurt by the roast, as they go in knowing what they're in for (Chevy Chase of all people being a very odd exception to the rule), but do occasionally seem genuinely hurt by a few of the real mean zingers. Additionally, some topics are discussed ahead of time by the roastees/roasters/producers as verboten (notably, Pamela Anderson forbade any jokes about the child that died in her pool at a party and the rumors of her having Hepititis; while William Shatner similarly banned jokes about his wife dying (also in a pool, strangely enough).
    • On the other hand, some of the invited members of the dais apparently DON'T know what they're in for, and walk away upset by it. Hulk Hogan (apparently was not used to getting slammed, despite working in a profession known for its backstage ball busting, and additionally balked at some of the jokes written for him to say at the expense of Pam Anderson while on the dais), Courtney Love (although given her state its hard to tell), and recently Lita Ford all were reportedly unhappy with their experience and didn't plan to do them again.
    • In fact, the inverse is often true. The meaner the joke, the harder some of the roastees laugh. Drew Carey, Flavor Flav and Joan Rivers being prime examples.
  • Epic Fail: Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino notoriously crashed and burned at the Trump Roast, and was almost booed off the stage (Jeff Ross actually had to go up and defend him long enough for him to finish.)
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A lot of the Comedy Central Roasters (especially Lisa Lampanelli, Whitney Cummings, and Anthony Jeselnik) are highly unapologetic for the number of times they cross the line. However, when Marlee Matlin was on the Donald Trump roast, most of them said that she was such a class act, they wished they'd gone easier on her. (This despite the fact that Marlee took it all in stride and, frankly, was able to give as well as she got.)
  • Fan Disservice: Lady Bunny states that he is this during the Pamela Anderson roast. Quote, "a boner break." He then jokes that Courtney Love is the second one.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Plenty over the years but notably any Too Soon joke ever made by Greg Giraldo.
    • One of the worst was at the Larry The Cable Guy Roast. Lisa is talking about how successful Larry is and mentions that he makes $250,000 a night. She repeats the number a few times, then says, "I just wanna see how many times I have to say that before Greg Giraldo kills himself." He actually looks at her and says "Once more."
    • At the Charlie Sheen Roast, comedian Patrice O'Neal seemed legitimately upset that people were making fun of his diabetes. He went on stage and said he was "dying". The Roast aired in September 2011; O'Neal died in November 2011 at the age of 41. Crosses with Harsher in Hindsight and Tear Jerker since O'Neal and Sheen had never met prior to the Roast.
    • At the William Shatner Roast, Betty White joked, "It always makes me laugh to see Artie Lange onstage...knowing that I'm going to outlive him." (1) This was before Lange's suicide attempt in 2010, and (2) Betty White wound up outliving two other roasters (Greg Giraldo and Farrah Fawcett).
      • At the same roast, Artie Lange himself joked, "It's the whiskey talking; I'm going right to rehab after this." He did two years later.
  • Genre Savvy: When the crowd would boo at a particularly nasty joke, the Roaster would remind the crowd just what they were watching. (Once, when Lisa told a joke that elicited more cringing than laughter, she point-blank said "It's a roast, assholes!"). Greg Giraldo and Lisa Lampanelli definitely acknowledge this the most.
    Greg Giraldo: "It's a fucking roast, groanie, groan, groan."
    • During Joan River's roast, SHE admonished the crowd when they booed a rather mean joke at her expense. "Lighten up! It was funny!"
  • Goshdang It To Heck: The ones on television are edited - sometimes heavily - for syndication. There's still plenty of swearing and lewd jokes, but they look tame by comparison to the original.
  • Head Scratchers: Some seemingly easy targets of the roastee gets omitted from (at least the aired version) from the barbs. Whether its expressly forbidden as per above or just an oversight on the roasters/edited out, it's probably confusing to the audience why certain topics weren't hit.
    • Denis Leary, for instance, is somewhat infamous in the comedy world for supposedly lifting his act from Bill Hicks. This was alluded to merely one whole time on the broadcast (so seemingly not a forbidden subject).
    • William Shatner's infamous alleged toupee also seemed to get off lightly...other than George Takei's epic closer (which may have been why, the other roasters laid off to allow George the spotlight).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the 2011 roast of Donald Trump, roast master Seth MacFarlane joked that, "I smoked a lot of pot, and clearly don't give a shit about this show. I'm kind of the perfect host for this roast or for the Oscars." This was before he was chosen to host the 2013 Academy Awards.
    • James Franco was roasted two years later, also adding to the meta-joke.
    • Lisa Lampanelli's joke from Larry The Cable Guy roast "What is this, Last Comic Available?" is maden more hilarious with roasters Jeff Ross and Greg Giraldo having judged Last Comic Standing, and starting with the Charlie Sheen roast, they used a former contestant from LCS, Amy Schumer.
    • A lot of the material directed at Denis Leary was aimed at his abysmal-to-that-point attempts at an acting career. The roast was done shortly before Rescue Me started airing and became a big hit.
  • I Thought It Meant: During the William Shatner roast:
    Greg Giraldo: "When I heard someone was gonna come on a horsenote  I thought "Wow, the Network's really gonna let Andy Dick and Lisa Lampanelli get away with murder."
  • The Lad-ette: Many a female roaster, such as Amy Schumer.
  • The Lancer: The Roastmaster.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    Gilbert Gottfried: "BOB SAGET RAPED AND KILLED A GIRL IN 1991!"
  • Money, Dear Boy: At Pamela Anderson's roast, she and the others were pretty open about the fact that the reason she agreed to do it was because Comedy Central agreed to make a sizable donation to Anderson's favorite charity, PETA.
  • Never Live It Down: A typical source of humour about any of the participants. One example during the Bob Saget roast:
    Greg Giraldo: (to John Stamos) "You lost your wife to the fat kid from Stand by Me!"
    • David Hasslehoff's infamous drunken cheeseburger eating video was alluded to several times during his.
    • Did you know that Denis Leary made some terrible movies? Well, we will remind you of that. Several times.
    • Drew Carey once wrote a book called Dirty Jokes and Beer. It wasn't really good. Let's remind him. Repeatedly.
  • Older Than They Think: Roasts didn't start with Comedy Central, the Rat Pack, or even the Friar's Clubs. There have been records of event resembling roasts of well-known public figures going back to at least Roman Times.
    • One of the traditional roles of the court jester in medieval times was to mock the king/queen *while they were holding court,* including jokes about their political blunders, their lineage, their rumored sexual indiscretions, etc. It was used as a sign that the Royalty weren't quite above it all.
  • Pet the Dog: During the Roseanne Roast, when she was doing her "shred the other roasters" rebuttal, she turned to Amy Schumer and said, "Thanks for doing nothing to stop that rumor that women aren't funny." Schumer seemed genuinely wounded by this, so Roseanne then genuinely thanked her and said she enjoyed her set.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The other Roasters.
  • Recycled Script: Some of the other comedians such as Lisa Lampanelli have gone on record of saying that Comedy Central has some pretty talented writers who can write some pretty good material for the roasters who aren't professional comedians, but there are still a few old jokes that get dragged out at each roast. At Pamela Anderson's roast, she told drag queen Lady Bunny the classic line "I always knew you were crazy, but in that dress, I can clearly see you're (your) nuts" and to the famously-smashed Courtney Love "It's nice to see her doing stand-up comedy. I always knew she could do comedy, I just didn't know she could stand up."
    • And speaking of Lisa, as above, given that she's done so many of these, the jokes aimed at her have started to get repeated.
  • Running Gag: Each roast has its fair share, but one running theme among the majority of the Comedy Central roasts was ragging on Greg Giraldo (before his death) by insinuating that no one knew who he was and mocking his lack of success.
    • It has continued since his death, with the targets now being Anthony Jeselnik, Amy Schumer, and most recently, at the James Franco roast, Jeff Ross
    • Jeff Ross in particular gets a lot of jokes about how he apparently has no other job but showing up to roasts. His face has also been compared to that of a horse on more than one occasion.
    • As noted, Lisa Lampanelli's (former) weight, taste in black men, and insinuating she looks mannish have been used many, many times. Recycled Sc
    • Gilbert Gottfried giving an alternate style of roast during his set. And of course his voice and squinty eyes are often mocked.
    • The Comedy Central ones always have the roastee make a grand entrance that is themed to their persona.
    • Seth MacFarlane having ripped off The Simpsons (or South Park) to achieve success.
    • Jeff Foxworthy's mustache and annoyance that he makes a lot of money being a clean comic.
    • Someone will invariably stand up to mock confront a roaster at a particularly mean joke.
    • Greg Giraldo using various different analogies for people masturbating over various female roasters (e.g. Pam Anderson or Farah Fawcett).
    • On Roseanne's roast, Carrie Fisher mocked the other running gags (Roseanne is fat, Jane Lynch is a lesbian, Seth Green is short, etc.).
    • Andy Dick's sexuality. Lisa Lampinelli especially dishes out the most euphemisms for homosexuals when talking about him (e.g. pickle kisser).
    • Exclusive to the roast for Pamela Anderson: Any and all quips about Courtney Love being not particularly sober.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: It didn't take long for Marlie Matlin's interpreter and friend to throw his hands up and leave during her routine. He got replaced by Gilbert Gottfried who arguably went 'off script'.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Man/Woman of the Hour is the last to go; they often roast themselves as well as the people who roasted him/her.
    • Usually there's the occasional roaster who spends more time ripping into themselves more than the person they're supposed to be roasting. Carrie Fisher and Ellen Barkin at the Roseanne roast spent more time talking about their past drug problems and tendency to date younger men, respectively, than they did roasting Roseanne.
  • So Unfunny It's Funny: There's usually one roaster (usually not a professional comedian) brought in with the intent of being hilariously awful.
    • Notably, Norm MacDonald fell squarely into this during Bob Saget's roast, typically pairing it with Don't Explain the Joke. While the audience took a few of these to start laughing, the other roasters were dying.
    • Andy Samberg offered a similar style when he showed up at the James Franco roast. Similar to Norm's case, the audience seemed to take a while to catch on, but some of the dais members (ESPECIALLY Bill Hader) found it hilarious.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Sometimes, the other Roasters.
  • Start My Own: After its contract with the Friar's Club expired, Comedy Central started doing its own series of roasts.
    • Additionally, AMC did one for Gene Simmons, and the heavy metal magazine Metal Hammer has started doing them in conjunction with their annual Golden Gods awards.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Marlee Matlin's ultimate response to Gilbert Gottfried's routine as her replacement 'interpreter'.
    Gilbert Gottfried: "Did I get that right?"
    Marlee Matlin: (while signing) "Sounds good to me."
  • The Tyson Zone: Mike Tyson himself roasting another glorious example of this, Charlie Sheen. Their unbelievable lives were referenced by most, if not all, other roasters.
  • Too Soon: As the Comedy Central versions have shown, Lisa Lampanelli is very fond of this.
    • Lampshaded after Greg Giraldo's death.
    • Calls of this got Gilbert Gottfried to abandon most of his planned set after a failed 9/11 joke... and instead shift to one of the most infamous versions of The Aristocrats ever broadcast.
    • Jeff Ross infamously made a James Holmes joke at the Roast of Roseanne Barr, which was deleted from the broadcast.
    • Jimmy Kimmel made a Chris Benoit joke at the Flavor Flav roast, a few months after his murder/suicide of his family. Most were surprised it DID make the broadcast.
  • With Friends Like These...: The reason the roastee never gets offended by the hilariously awful statements is usually a combination of having a good sense of humor, knowing what to expect, and most of all, being good friends with the roasters and being able to make a few jokes at each other.
    • Some roasters genuinely have a hard time getting through their scripts because some of the jokes are just too mean and aimed at people they are good friends with/greatly respect.
    • In ones where the victim's actual friends are the roast board, such as James Franco's, it's even more enforced.

The Roast In Other Media:

  • Liar Liar: Jim Carrey's character only gets away with running down his boss while under his truth curse because his boss thinks he's being roasted.
    The Boss: "I love a good roast!"
  • The Office: Michael Scott sets up a roast for himself in one episode, foolishly assured at what jokes they will make about him...and then gets upset when they *really* rip into his character flaws.
  • Seinfeld - Jerry's dad Morty, as president of his condo board, gets a roast in his honor, but he's so sore with his emcee friend over Jerry and the 'astronaut's pen' that he pushes the whole affair into an ugly brawl.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 - TV's Frank roasts Dr. Forrester, who slowly boils over into a murderous rage.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold has The Joker throw one for Batman while he's literally roasting on a spit—with Jeff Ross having been kidnapped to join in. Batman lets Ross go ahead with no hard feelings. (This is actually a Batman Gambit: while Ross launches the Take That at Batman, the villains don't realize Batman's freeing himself from the roasting spit.)
    • Batman then lands a few lines on Penguin ("They ought to call you The Nail, because you're always pounded by the Hammers of Justice!"), Two-Face ("I'd try not to hit your good side, Two-Face, but you don't have one!") and Riddler ("The answer to all your riddles is THIS!").
  • Amazon Women on the Moon features a roast/funeral. The widow steals the show.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch has Don Rickles do this to Rodney Dangerfield during their fight. He's trying to be genuinely insulting, but unfortunately for him he can't find any insults that Rodney doesn't wholeheartedly agree with. When Don runs out of material, Rodney takes the upper hand and literally roasts him (a pit of charcoal was placed in the ring specifically so that this kind of thing could happen.
  • An entire episode of WWE Legends House is about the set up and execution of a roast for cast member, wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.
  • There's an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race that has all the cast members doing a roundtable roast of all the contestants and a panel of judges that critiques their performances.
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