Roasts are very popular but difficult to bring off. They require a lot of organization, including a number of different speakers, all of whom must agree not to take more than two minutes.

Roasts are intended to be fun at the expense of the guest of honor, so even though he claims to have a thick skin and a good sense of humor, don't take anything for granted. Clue him in advance as to the type of material, the names of the roasters and warn him that the audience will be watching him at the end of each line—funny or not. If he doesn't laugh first, they won't laugh last. He must be as much an actor on stage as anybody.

Also encourage him to let you write a short rebuttal, perhaps taking one verbal swing at each presenter. In that way, he'll feel more of a participant and less of a sitting target. Even then, the odds are that a few jabs will bruise for a long time. That's why the best time to run a roast is when the guest is retiring or departing the locale—forever.

Stag roasts work best. Once a woman executive was retiring. One of her male friends said, "I'm delighted to see Agnes being roasted. It's the first time in six years she's been in heat!"

The best lines aren't just put-downs but help make the person feel he was doing his job enthusiastically.

If Martians ever appear on this campus, the only one who would pay attention would be our bursar, Charlie. He would swing into action and immediately bill them for out-of-state tuition.

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