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A roast is an event in which a specific individual, a guest of honor, is subjected to good-natured jokes at their expense intended to amuse the event's wider audience. This type of event was created as a mock counter to a toast. Such events are intended to honor a specific individual in a unique way. In addition to jokes and insult comedy, such events may also involve genuine praise and tributes. The implication is that the roastee is able to take the jokes in good humor and not as serious criticism or insult, and it is seen by some as a great honor to be roasted. 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."
The Friars Club
"FRIARS KID MR. HARRIS: Veteran Theatrical Manager Butt of Jokes at Dinner" read the headline of the December 10, 1910 issue of the New York Tribune.
Dean Martin's Celebrity Roasts
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.
From 1998 to 2002, the cable channel Comedy Central produced and broadcast the annual roast of the New York Friars Club, with roasts of the celebrities Drew Carey, Jerry Stiller, Rob Reiner, Hugh Hefner and Chevy Chase.
Based on the success of these roasts, Comedy Central began hosting their own roasts on an approximately annual basis, under the name Comedy Central Roast. The first roastee was Denis Leary in 2003, followed by Jeff Foxworthy, Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Flavor Flav, Bob Saget, Larry the Cable Guy, Joan Rivers, David Hasselhoff, Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, Roseanne Barr, James Franco and Justin Bieber.
In 2010, Comedy Central's international affiliates began to produce and air their own local roasts as well. Comedy Central New Zealand has aired two roasts (of Mike King and Murray Mexted), Comedy Central Africa has aired two (of Steve Hofmeyr and Kenny Kunene), and Comedy Central Latin America has aired one, of Héctor Suárez.
Other televised roasts in the United States
Many attempts have been made to adapt the format to a British audience. Channel 4 launched the latest British version on 7 April 2010 with A Comedy Roast, with initial victims being Bruce Forsyth, Sharon Osbourne and Chris Tarrant.
The Indian comedy group All India Bakchod organized the live show AIB Knockout in January, 2015 featuring Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh with Karan Johar as the roastmaster. The programme caused a controversy for allegedly featuring distasteful, sexist, offending and humiliating content. Videos of the event were removed from YouTube, and the state is contemplating a clamp down on future AIB Knockouts, following legal action by some viewers. 
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. 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.
- "History // Friars Club". Friars Club. Retrieved 2014-09-26.
- Armstrong, Stephen (5 April 2010). "Channel 4 launches comedy roast shows". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- "A Comedy Roast - Series & Episodes". Channel 4. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- John Hendren (2007-04-11). "Imus Clout Prompts Political Support". ABC News. Retrieved April 11, 2007.
- Sandoval, Greg. "Video of Presidential roast attracts big Web audience". Cnet News. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
- Rich, Frank (November 5, 2006). "Throw the Truthiness Bums Out". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-11-22.