Roast By Example – Persuasive Communication and Life Skills
So what do we know about John? Well, according to his wife, he is incredibly absent-minded and forgetful ,and he is becoming even more so as he ages. I asked her to tell me more and she said, “Let’s say that he could, in one breath, tell you he is definitely going to take out the garbage or put something away, or get something out for you, and then completely forget about it in the very next second. Let’s say that you have learned you cannot depend on him to do things you ask him to do that he says he will do, because he forgets. Let’s say he can never remember where he puts things, so you have to find things for him.”
Obviously, we’re going to have fun with John’s memory. The good news is, no matter offensive we are, he probably won’t remember it!
What else do we know about him? Well, she tells me that he can’t spell at all. Maybe we can find some jokes about being unable to spell. That has some humor potential. We could tell a joke I already know, put his name in it so that one time, when John was traveling through Alaska, he stopped in a small town, went into a local restaurant, and asked someone if they could ‘Please tell me, where exactly am I?” The lady sounded it out slowly, “Bur…Ger… King.”
We could say that John told one of his patients that he thought he might have appendicitis. He asked John if he’d ever had trouble with appendicitis. John said, “Only when I have to spell it. “
Another thing we know about John is that he isn’t just a nice guy, he is THE nice guy, maybe the nicest guy ever. To be that nice, he has to be incredibly naive. We could have fun with that. We could say that he was once mugged by two punks, and he put up a really good fight, but tried not to hurt anyone. Finally, they got him pinned down, and they took his wallet. One of the punks said, Why did you put up such a fight?” John said, “Well, I was afraid if you won you would find the $400 I keep stashed in my right shoe.”
If there is some way to laugh at these characteristics in a light hearted way, we’re going to find it. And a google search for keywords like ‘forgetful’ comes up with some easily adaptable jokes. I’m going to take those jokes, and add in John’s name, and maybe a few familiar details that the group will recognize.
Here we go.
John is so forgetful. One day, he came home, and his wife answered the door. He said, “Um…is John here?” She thought he was kidding, so she said, “Apparently not.” John sat down on the doorstep and waited for himself.
Perhaps you remember a few years back, John and his wife took a trip to Turkey. One day, on a train ride, a conductor came by and asked for their tickets. John searched his pockets, but couldn’t find the tickets anywhere. The conducter said, don’t worry, I’ll come back. But when he came back, John still hadn’t found the tickets. So the conductor was really great about it, he said, look it’s ok, you are tourists, I believe you, you don’t need the tickets. But John said, with a real look of concern in his eyes, “That’s really kind of you. But I have to find the tickets. Otherwise, I won’t know where we’re supposed to get off!”
I don’t mean to make fun of John just because he’s forgetful. I mean, everybody has those ‘where are my keys?!’ moments, and it happens to me, too. One day, John came over, found me standing in my kitchen with a jar of tahini in my hand. I said, “Dang, I can’t remember whether I need to put this away, or start making a sandwich.” John says, “ I’m glad I don’t have that problem. Knock on wood,” and then he knocked on the table. Ten seconds later, he said, “That must be the door, I’ll get it!”
One time John and I were staying in the same hotel, we went down to the pool, and John was wearing sweatpants. He took them off to go swimming, and now suddenly everyone was staring at him. Why? He’d forgotten to put on his bathing suit.
Last time John went in to see his doctor and get his physical, he told him he’s having trouble remembering things. He said, “ I’m never sure I can remember where I put the car, or whether I answered a letter, or where I’m going, or what it is I’m going to do once I get there — if I get there. So, I really need your help. Doc, what the Hell can I do?”His doctor thought about it, then in a very kind voice said, “You can pay me in advance.”
Funny thing about John’s forgetfulness: He thinks other people have the same problem. He got pulled over for speeding, cop asked him, ‘Do you know how fast you were going?” “Why,” asked John. “Did you forget?”
One night, John was sound asleep with his wife, and she must have shouted in her sleep, “Quick my husband is coming!” John woke up, grabbed some clothes and jumped out the bedroom window. When he came back in, he said, “I am your husband!”
John can’t remember all kinds of things, but his mind is a trap for useless information. For example, he can tell you that If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days you would produce enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. He could tell you that banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. He could tell you that an ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain. He could tell you that twenty seconds worth of fuel remained when Apollo 11’s lunar module landed on the moon. But if you ask him how to spell happiness, he’ll say, “I don’t know, but I know it has a penis in it.”
John may be forgetful, but he’ll never forget the last words his grandfather said to him on his deathbed: “What are you doing with that pillow?”
John’s absentmindedness has grown worse over the years of his marriage. His wife tells me it started out in small ways. First he just forgot names. Then he forgot faces. Then he forgot to pull his zipper up. Now she says he forgets to pull it down.
It’s gotten so bad that he’s putting zen post it notes in the bathroom. “Pee here now.”
John may be forgetful, but he still likes to give people advice. One day he took me aside. And he left me there.
End With Something Wonderful
Ok, you’ve had your fun with John. Now you wrap it up by saying something wonderful about him. Only you say it directly to him.
“John, you’re a great guy. You never forget what’s important in life, like your friends. And I’m glad to have known you all these many years. Happy birthday, my friend. May all that you wish for come to you pressed down and multiplied!”
Ok, let’s do another one. What if you had to roast me?
Whatdo you know about me? Well, you probably think of me speaking in front of groups or writing books, or giving advice to clients, right?
“Rick can be hard to talk to at times, even though he thinks he has 24th century listening ability. Maybe it’s his knack for turning any conversation about the most mundane things into a rant on the need for research into warp travel. Maybe it’s the way he gets dreamy eyed while he wishes he had a positronic brain capable of doing sixty trillion operations a second with a primary storage capacity of eight hundred quadrillion bits. And when he gets going like that what can you say to Rick, except, “Huh?”
“One day I asked Rick for the time, and he replied that his antimatter injection tubes were out of phase balance with his warp coils, and he couldn’t be certain of the time until he’d run a level one diagnostic.
“If you ask him, and I don’t recommend it, he’ll tell you the reason he’s so into Star Trek is the intellectually stimulating issues covered in each television episode, or the well crafted story lines of the movies. But I think the reason he’s such a trekkie is that he is certain that in a parallel universe where being a trekkie is actually attractive, women don’t get nauseous thinking about him.
“Of course, he’ll deny being a trekkie. Ever notice how he corrects you, says, “I’m a trekker. I have a life.” Here’s what you should know. He calls his trek obsession a life.”
Or you could have fun with the way I avoid participation in groups.
“It’s not that Rick doesn’t like being in a group. It’s that Rick doesn’t like being in a group that includes most of you.” You could have fun with both his Star Trek fetish and his avoidance of groups by putting them together. “Ever watch Rick beam up to his starship anytime someone says, “Let’s get the group together Friday night!”
Or you could have fun with my inflated sense of importance. I certainly do. Or my peculiarities around food. Or the fact that Lindea loves me.
Like when my brother met my wife for the first time, he said “I see what’s in it for Ricky. But what’s in it for you?”
If You Are The Roastee
Here’s the thing. YOu can’t just waltz into a roast, and then get up and say thank you.
You can’t walk in unprepared to a roast when you are the one they’re putting in the pot. You must come prepared to even the score. For it to be complete, for people feel the love completely, you have to be able to give as well get. It’s the old “They can dish it out, now they have to take it,” which I believe is what we call the circle of life.
So you need to start preparing to roast your friends. One or two roasts per roaster will do the job. Think about the qualities that you associate with each person coming. Make a list of those qualities. Then think “How can i make fun of those qualities?” and “Where’s the funny in that?” You can be mean, say nasty things, it’s all in good fun, and everybody knows it. You want to turn up the heat with exaggeration, with zingers and stingers.
And that’s it for now. Until next time, and at any time, your comments are welcome!
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.