How to Host a Winning Comedy Roast at Your Event
With the soaring popularity of Comedy Central’s roasts, a growing number of organizations are getting in on the action by bringing this lighthearted entertainment to their events. Here is a series of tips from the award-winning comedians at Winning Wit to ensure your next roast hits the mark:
• Find the right honoree. For corporate roasts, most organizations spotlight the C.E.O./chair, but great roasts often honor a retiree, top salesperson, or someone who's given the company several decades of outstanding service. And, most importantly, make sure your honoree can take a joke...or 200.
• Make each person's speech a ‘roast sandwich.’ You should always start off with heartfelt words, make the bulk of the roast a series of jokes, then close with the same warm, heartfelt sentiments. Yes, this evening is a parade of raucous laughter at the expense of your honoree, but always remember that they're being honored above all.
• Work the room. Yes, this night is about your honoree, but working in material about the other roasters, as well as other people in the group, is a great way to keep everyone attentive and engaged. This is a team event, and everyone should get in on the action.
• Smile and incorporate self-deprecating humor. Flub a line? Follow up with, "...and don't forget to sign up for my public speaking seminars" or something similar. Not taking yourself too seriously is the best way to ingratiate yourself to the crowd and keep the laughs rolling.
• Know the red lines. There are always one or two topics that are completely taboo, so never cross that line for the sake of shock value or a cheap laugh. It's a great way to lose your audience, your friends, and even your job. Identify the "red line" and go right up to it, even alongside it, but never cross it.
• Choose the appropriate emcee. If hiring a professional, make sure this person’s tone and style fit your group's culture. An emcee in a tux probably won't work when roasting a construction foreman at the pub. If someone in-house is leading the event, make sure he/she has the experience and confidence to command the room and keep the evening flowing smoothly.
• Give the honoree the floor. Nothing concludes a dynamic evening of ribbing like the target having an opportunity to dish it back to everyone. Let the honoree get up at the end and address his/her roasters, as well as the crowd as a whole. It ties the evening together perfectly and makes sure the laws of karma are in full effect.
About Winning Wit: Founded by Stand Up NY "Funniest Person from Queens" winner Geoff Woliner, Winning Wit uses decades of stand-up comedy experience to help organizations write and deliver hilarious speeches, roasts, and presentations for their own events.