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A roast, in North American English, is an event 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 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".

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New York Friars' Club

The New York Friars' Club has held celebrity roasts in private since the 1920s. Only recently has the public been invited to see them. Dean Martin hosted a series of roasts on television during the 1960s and 1970s as part of The Dean Martin Show. The humor at these broadcast tributes was far tamer than the sometimes extremely vulgar and explicit language of the private, non-televised ones.

Comedy Central

Currently on television in the U.S., Comedy Central occasionally broadcasts roasts of comedians, both some of the Friars' Club and their own. To date, Comedy Central has aired roasts of Drew Carey, Jerry Stiller, Rob Reiner, Hugh Hefner, Emmitt Smith, Gene Simmons, Chevy Chase, Denis Leary, Jeff Foxworthy, Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Flavor Flav, Bob Saget, Larry the Cable Guy, and Joan Rivers. (see also: List of roast TV shows).

Politics

The White House Correspondents' Association and Radio and Television Correspondents' Association have annual dinners that, in some years, feature a comedy roasting of the President. Don Imus at the RTCA in 1996 and Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner have received particular attention for their biting remarks during their speeches.[1][2][3]

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