A roast is an event in which one particular guest is joked about and made fun of by his or her peers, usually in front of an audience. The roasters are typically assembled on a "dais" (a raised platform or stage), where they remain for the length of the roast. The host of a roast is called the "roastmaster," who does jokes at the opening and then introduces each guest. The roasters then take turns doing jokes about the guest of honor, as well as the other comedians on the dais. A roast usually ends with the guest of honor (roastee) getting the opportunity for a rebuttal against all of the insults hurled at him or her in the course of the evening.
Roasts are traditionally comprised of insult comedy and are known to be very vulgar.
It is largely considered to be a great honor to be roasted.
Roasts first began as a tradition of the New York Friar's Club, where they were held in private as far back as the 1920s. They achieved mainstream popularity in the '60s and '70s when Dean Martin began hosting televised roasts.