Everybody loves a roast and not the kind you put in the oven, though they can be quite delicious. We're talking about the kind of roast where the guest of honor is the one who ends up in the hot seat. If you're going to put on one of these things, you better follow some common sense rules of your roast could turn into a five alarm fire with your guests running for the exits.
The first thing you want to do when hosting a roast is to make sure that the guest of honor is actually okay with the idea. The last thing you want is to be up there poking fun at the guy and he's looking at you with daggers coming out of his eyes. A roast is no fun if the main course runs from the table in a huff.
The next thing you want to do is select a roastmaster who can run the event professionally and in good taste. The roastmaster is the person who introduces each person who is going to speak at the roast and will occasionally make a few jokes himself. Your roastmaster can make or break your roast.
Before the program begins, the roastmaster should speak with each person who is going to speak at the roast to find out what they plan to say. This way he can coordinate his remarks with each of the performers. Also, you want to go over the whole program to eliminate the possibility of duplicate jokes. He should also work with each presenter to make sure the routines are sharp and no more than 2 minutes.
The roastmaster also needs to work with the guest of honor to help him prepare a counter roast for the end of the program. This is where the guest of honor gets to return insults to the people who took shots at him during the evening. The roastmaster must make sure that this is all done in good taste.
When the roastmaster opens the program, he must keep in mind that there are going to be people in the audience who are not comfortable with poking fun at others. It is his job to tell them that we only roast people that we like and that it is all in fun. By poking fun at himself at the beginning, this will help put the audience at ease.
When presenting each roaster, the roastmaster should throw a roast line at each of them to start them off. This is a great stepping stone for each roaster to push off of. This makes it so that everyone basically is being made fun of and nobody feels singled out.
When the guest of honor does his counter roast, this should be the highlight of the evening. Don't try to top this as the roastmaster. This is the guest of honor's chance to "get even" and should not be upstaged.
If you follow the above tips, your roast should go off without anybody getting burned.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Humor