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A roast 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 as a mock counter to a toast. 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."
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. To date, Comedy Central has aired roasts of Drew Carey, Jerry Stiller, Rob Reiner, Hugh Hefner, Chevy Chase, 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.
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.
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.