Roasting is an art. It takes skill to come up with a witty one-liner jab that is equally funny and not too mean. If it’s not funny, you’re just being an asshole. If it’s too mean, you’re being a bully. But how do you master the art of roasting? What the hell is a roast? Why should you roast your friend?
Let’s define a roast. To keep it short, to roast is to tease someone. We’ve probably all seen, or at least heard of, the Comedy Central roasts. These are good examples of roasting, though they get pretty intense and personal. If you’ve ever been to an underfunded public school, you’ve probably been roasted or have roasted your friend. There is no time for administrators and the staff to put us in check because there is simply not enough of them to go around. It is up to us students to roast each other and teach each other how to be non-annoying human beings (tough love?). Sometimes even teachers join in on the fun. We all use humor to cope with our less-than-ideal conditions—you may get roasted for having to use the bathroom stall with no door, getting the sandwich with mold on it, wearing your older sister’s shoes (the ones with a hole in the sole that she wore last week), eating Hot Cheetos every morning at 7:30 am, having your dollar swallowed by the vending machine (the one that had a mouse in it the other day).
On the other hand, private school kids are constantly being coddled, encouraged, and enthusiastically supported. Don’t get me wrong, if my parents were paying tens of thousands of dollars for my education, I would expect to be coddled, but we don’t all have six-figure family incomes and intergenerational family fortune. Private school kids seem to be treated like God’s little bundles of joy, kiddos who could never do any wrong, and children who were specifically placed on this Earth to be our future leaders (nepotism). Growing up in this environment creates humans who are incapable of hearing any criticism as they have never been the butt of any joke. They take themselves extremely seriously. They are untouchable and on another level.
So why roast your friends? Isn’t it mean? Why make fun of anyone? Especially about something out of their control (i.e., their parent’s income)? Well, dearest reader, there is scientific evidence that teasing is an expression of acceptance. It promotes humility, and it keeps people in check. It also shows that you and your friends are close enough to know which flaws are off-limits… and which are there for the picking-at. It’s not “mean” to roast your friend for complaining about rich people yet choosing to intern at Goldman Sachs. It’s not “mean” to roast your friend for flaking on every plan you’ve ever tried to make. It’s not “mean” to roast your friend for being homesick even though their parents were just in town to speak at a Yale conference. It’s not “mean” to call out the bullshit and hypocrisy you see in your friends—after all, they are your friends, and you wouldn’t be friends with them if you didn’t think they were a respectable person capable of acknowledging their faults. As long as it’s funny and not mean-spirited, you should roast.
As aforementioned, getting roasted teaches us to be humble. We find ourselves in a unique position on an elite university campus. Being able to get to know people you would otherwise probably never encounter is nice, but, then again, sometimes it’s not. I’m calling back to my grievances with private school kids now—the entitlement, the silver spoons, the holier-than-thou sentiments, the I-have-never-met-a-poor-person-in-my-life experience, the let’s-go-on-a-trip-to-a-foreign-country-over-spring-break like it’s nothing complex, etc. It’s no secret that elite universities breed entitlement and entrench inequality. Growing up in such a setting makes you a much different person than someone who did not. To avoid being mean and unleashing my wrath on someone who is only ignorant and not directly responsible for the conditions of the life of a less-fortunate person, my most effective attack is a roast. Humility is awesome and much-needed at a place like Yale. We are now all part of the elitist machine that is Yale. Gone are the days of being valedictorian of your class and your high school’s pride and joy! Here at Yale, we are all average compared to each other. And it’s wonderful! We don’t have to compete with each other, and we don’t have to be better than anyone. But many still feel like they need to be The Best. We need to be more real with each other. For the good of our egos, and a humble student body, please roast your friends.