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The Art of the Roast

President+Obama+at+the+2016+White+House+Correspondent%27s+Dinner.
President Obama at the 2016 White House Correspondent's Dinner.

President Obama at the 2016 White House Correspondent's Dinner.

President Obama at the 2016 White House Correspondent's Dinner.

Agnes Han

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The 21st century is known as the information age, an era when ideas and innovation drives economic growth more than labor or land. More and more of the world has become educated and connected. In one century, living standards skyrocketed and the global literacy rate increased by 60%.

And in the midst of all this progress, social media appeared. Outlandish stunts like the water bottle flip and the dab surfaced. So did the roast. Even Urban Dictionary now has a highly questionable page dedicated to appalling examples of roasting. And now, Millburn Middle School students can be heard mentioning that another peer has gotten “roasted” at least once a day. 

The friendly ribbing that occurs throughout schools and comedy shows extends a “time-honored tradition” that originated in a mocking imitation of a toast. According to the roast’s Wikipedia page (yes, it has a Wikipedia page as well), a roast included a party and presentation wherein a guest of honor was “subjected to good-natured jokes at their expense intended to amuse the event’s wider audience.”

Recipients of such jokes were expected to be able to receive them in good humor without bristling or becoming defensive. The first televised roast occurred at Kraft Music Hall, the then the famous New York Friars Club roasts, and now decades later, channels like Comedy Central also started using the format on an annual basis.

The White House Correspondent’s dinner, held April 29th this year, also sometimes features the comedy roasting of a President (unfortunately, President Donald Trump  did not attend this year’s dinner).

All of this probably seems like excess information about a very casual pastime. However, like any tradition, even the roast as a long and engaging history, and perhaps MMS students should look back at the history before casually just dropping imaginary microphones any time a funny comment is made.

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