On Being Roasted

Rob Hatch and Chris Brogan Having Gin and Tonic

This post is ridiculously long and somewhat self-serving. Skip it, if you just like when I talk about marketing and stuff. Read on, if you want to know about just a few people who were kind enough to honor me last night.

Last night was one of the scariest nights of my life. I was honored by friends at a roast, where people would be throwing well-meant jabs at me all night in front of my family and friends. To say that I was scared might be an understatement. I was terrified.

I’m not afraid of public speaking. I’m not afraid of meeting very important business leaders. I’m not afraid of my own death. I was absolutely freaked out and scared of what this roast thing was going to be about.

And I faced it like a coward.

I drank a lot too much, and though I did my best to stay coherent, I’m really regretful that my closing speech after everyone was finished didn’t go something more like this:

Thank You

Thank you to CD Vann for putting on this roast and for supporting Sit Stay Read, a charity that helps make literacy more fun for kids. I’m happy that this event helped out in even a small way.

Thank you, Jason Falls for hosting the roast, and for doing an excellent job of preparing for what must have been a much harder experience than one of our typical speeches. You performed magically, and were so kind ahead of time, during, and after (near as I can recall).

Thank you, Jon Swanson, my good friend and pastor, who led the best prayer ever. In fact, I really want to see a copy some day, if any of that was written out, as I suspect it was. It was priceless. Thank you to you and Nancy for coming down, and for just being my friend. Had I been a lot more coherent, I’d have told the room the story of Andrew and his friend walking by me that night years ago.

Thank you, Joe Sorge, for your great Honey Badger video, and for making me laugh so much. Of particular note was the Mama Badger and the Camero Therapy badger bits. If I had it to say again, I’d have told people how strange it was to meet a guy who I feel like I’ve known for years.

Thank you, Liz Strauss, for being my first grade teacher. You did a great job of telling meaningful stories that never happened but that sum me up much better than several things that really did happen. You continue to be a wonderful example of community.

Thank you, Dave Murray. From the moment the lab coat went on, I couldn’t stop laughing. You hadn’t even said anything, but because I count you as one of the funniest people alive, I was already pretty darned ready to laugh. Your jokes at that dinner at that Lebanese restaurant outside of Detroit have become legendary to me over time. The other day, someone asked about the shoe with the bottle of Jager in it that adorns our bookcase at home. I couldn’t answer, because I was laughing.

Thank you, Gary Soucy, the scariest wild card a room could ever hold (he knew some really insane stuff about me, but didn’t give up the best dirt). Gary also played the role of “guy not really in our space, who can tell us we’re all crazy.” It was a big surprise seeing you there, and I was very grateful.

Thank you, Rob Hatch, for a really well-written roast that had me laughing hard and appreciating you all the more. I know that Megin was ready to razz you, but there’s nothing to pick on. You were really funny. Thanks also for getting drinks with me beforehand, and for that moment before we began it all when you made me laugh and spit carrot into your glass.

Thank you, Amber Naslund, for doing a great job of summing up the last few years of insanity, for being kind, for throwing in a bunch of the long-running jokes that defined the countless conferences and hotel ballrooms. It was great to relive those memories, and just good to catch up.

Thanks, Jeff Willie. You certainly added to the night’s craziness. I don’t exactly remember your roast parts, except for the Follow Friday parts, but I’m sure it was wonderful.

Thanks, Troy Janisch, for adding to the experience. You were telling me months and months ahead of time not to worry and that it’d be okay. You were right. It was fun to hear your perspectives and I’m grateful that you were in the room.

(At this moment, I really hope that I thanked everyone who roasted me in person, because I’ve gotta tell you, it’s 4:30AM local time and I’m hung over, and I think I got them all, but if not, I really loved whatever you said, person I forgot to mention outright).

So, friends also contributed videos. Angel Djambazov did one in a bathrobe that had me laughing. Zena Weist did one that was as sweet as she ever is. Christopher S. Penn told our meeting story, which gets funnier every time he tells it. Shashi Bellamkonda shot a video for me. Other wonderful folks did, but I’m never going to remember you all.

There were all kinds of celebrity video bits, including Cloris Leachman, and um… oh god, lots of people who I’m not going to remember, but Dr Drew, some comics, some music stars, all doing a montage of sorts of “Who’s Chris Brogan?” I hope it goes up on YouTube so I don’t have to explain it.

I’m pretty darned sure I didn’t thank my parents, Diane Brogan and Steve Brogan, who were probably a fine mix of proud and embarrassed by the end of it all, both by the people roasting me and doubly by me. My parents made me all that I am, but I doubt they’d want to take credit for the fact I got drunk last night in the face of my fears. That said, they love me, even when I mess up, the way parents are supposed to love you. I hope I will someday be half as good at that job with my kids.

Thank you, Katrina. Thank you. You did a wonderful job of connecting with people, of helping with some of the last minute details, with checking in, and then you were the poor soul who had to handle the very unglamorous part of my night. Thanks for getting me upstairs instead of letting me wander into that restaurant to talk more. Thanks for getting me fed and watered and put to sleep. I’m so glad I didn’t get sick, but I’m super grateful that you dealt with my shenanigans. And thanks for being part of the event, but never getting the mic. : )

Next to last, thank you to everyone who sent well-wishes before and during the event from afar. I was served drinks from long distance (avoiding land sharks). I was wished well by friends who couldn’t make it. I was honored by all of your kindnesses.

Finally, I was so humbled by the people who attended this event. I feel like I let you down, at least some of you, by not getting over to talk to you before the shenanigans began. I said hi to lots of folks in the room and talked to people who had come from all over to be there. Sue Murphy came down from Canada. Rick Calvert and Cheril Hendry both came from California to be there. Peggy Fitzpatrick came from New Hampshire. Several people made five or six or more hour drives. Friends like Jim Raffel and Katie Felton and Robin Walker and Becky Johns and Hajj Flemings and Anita Campbell and Shawna Coronado and many more came to be part of the story. I couldn’t get over that.

At the end, when I was probably my most incoherent, I wanted to say this: I am you. I am every Katherine Bull and Kim Beasley and Salvatore Fiorella in the room. I’m not worthy of being the center of attention at an event like that. Jason Falls and Liz Strauss and thousands of people do what I do and then some all the time. They deserve to be roasted. You deserve to be roasted and honored and treated with the love I received from you all. And how do I know this? Because I’m you. I’m a nobody who works hard and who believes above all beliefs that humans are just trying to do what they can, and that they (you!) are inherently good.

In the end, I will repeat that I was a coward about last night. I was so afraid. I got a little drunk because I was so afraid, and that’s a cowardly move. Because in the end, the roast that people put on for me was a testimonial to the love that great people can share for a regular guy like me, and with every passing moment, it dawned on me that I’d read the entire situation wrong, and that it was nothing but love.

So thank you, my friends, for the roast, for allowing me my flaws, and for a great time last night. I will remember most the sense that the world to which I’ve dedicated over a decade of passion came together to say great things, some of which were true.

Thank you.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/josart77 JoAnn Sanborn

    You touch something easy in us, Chris, and it is good. Glad it was wonderful.

  • http://www.youintegrate.com Kneale Mann

    Bravo Monsieur Brogan.

  • http://www.jungleoflife.com/ Lance

    Rock on, Chris!! Awesome-ness = YOU!

  • Anonymous

    Yesterday I had one of those bad days; although my business is flourishing – BIG new clients for my little co. have just signed on, yet I was feeling the “I feel like a fraud” feelings.

    I thought of all of the posts/tweets you put up about the same feelings of insecurity – the ones that make me remember that ALL of us are human and therefore insecure – even the great ones.

    I shook off the self doubt and carried on. Those admissions of yours are powerful, especially for those of us trying to get ‘up there.’ I’m sure you know that and that’s why you do it, but Thank You.

    PS: I told you I like your drunk posts best. :)

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Chris Chris, you probably found the concept of a roast scary because you thought people would be as hard on you as you are on yourself. Not possible :)

    You are a human, successful, and well-loved. Breathe it in.

  • http://profiles.google.com/678partners Parissa Behnia

    It was a pleasure to be there… As painful as some of the barbs were, there was much love. I know that’s odd to say but the energy was palpable and the admiration is well deserved.

  • http://www.avenue3re.com Lois Ardito

    Like a phoenix rising from the ashes..you’re good people Chris.

  • http://www.stickyJesus.com Tami Heim

    It’s good for the heart and soul to pause in the craziness of life to be celebrated, honored, and loved. Thanks for the example of returning the kindness and love in the way that I am sure they know is true and authentic to you. Thank you – matters.
    Your counsel is always wise – but its your heart that inspires. Well done, Chris.

  • http://scrapsofmygeeklife.com scrappinmichele

    Aww! Just shows you are human. LOL! Since you are in the human business, I guess that’s a good thing. Congrats on surviving!

  • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

    “Because I’m you. I’m a nobody who works hard and who believes above all beliefs that humans are just trying to do what they can, and that they (you!) are inherently good.”

    Chris, sounds like an amazing night. You are inherently good. You inspire others to be more human and more inherently good. And, that’s a proud mission.

  • Diane Brogan

    I am so proud to be your mother. Last night will live forever in my memory. I love you.

    • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

      That makes me smile. Are blog comments from your parents the best?

    • http://twitter.com/IreneKoehler Irene Koehler

      Nothing beats moms commenting on blogs professing their love and support.

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  • http://twitter.com/phillyrealty Christopher Somers

    Great testament to the people that are close to you ! That is what it is all about at the end of the day !

  • http://twitter.com/cartertx Chris Carter

    What a great sport. That was a lot of fun. Thanks for the laughs all. Now where is that Brogan Badger video already?

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  • Nancy Hinchliff

    Chris, Congratulations onn being roasted..this means, of course, that everybody loves and admires you. Wish I could have been there,,,but, alas, no invitation. Even though I don’t know you personally, I can tell you’re a great guy. Thanks for the time you spent on line with me answering questions, etc. I love your thank you speech.

  • Mckra1g

    You buried the lede! ;)

    >I’m [someody] who works hard and who believes above all beliefs that
    humans are just trying to do what they can, and that they (you!) are
    inherently good.

    This may be true, but having someone who takes the lead and shows the way is invaluable. Thanks, Chris. Congratulations on working so hard. Best, M.

  • Steve Brogan

    Chris we enjoyed the roast. Even the ending was all right. Not sure if you remember my “mash potatoes incident?” We were very proud of the number of people that wanted to roast you and were pleased that no one wanted to “flame” you. You definitely are loved by family and friends, maybe even Cloris Leachman.

    Love, Dad

  • http://twitter.com/garysoucy garysoucy

    Chris, what an amazing time last night. I am not sure what celestial alignments had to take place to put us both in the same room and a microphone in my hand. Thank goodness (for your sake), I hadn’t had as many G&T’s as you and Rob. It’s been a long time since we’ve spent any time together and clearly life is good. I am so honored to have been included in the event last night and as you must do so often, you have inspired me. I hope another 20 years does not go by before we get to see each other again. Cheers, Gary.

  • http://twitter.com/TheReducersBand The Reducers Band

    Chris – We can tell by your daily posts that you’re human and this clinches it! You have a tremendous influence within your ever-growing circle and are still putting it all out there – even when you feel you may be showing weakness. Impressive.

  • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

    Chris,
    I gathered over the last few days that someone, somewhere planned to roast you. Now I think you are saying that it was a fundraiser for Sit, Stay, Read. Is that correct? I am sure it was a great evening. It might have been a good experiment to play it live on your Pulse Network and charge a small fee for your “friends” to join in the fun and help a good cause.

    Take care and thanks for just being you.
    Judy

  • Anonymous

    Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are your own fears. – Rudyard Kipling

    It’s not that we appear fearless…but that we show the world we have fear and we act in the face of it anyway. ~ C

  • Anonymous

    I am so glad I came last night Chris. It was the most fun
    evening I have had in a very long time. I had high expectations for Jason Falls
    and he absolutely delivered. Jason was the perfect host for the evening who set
    the tone in the first few minutes and kept us all laughing for the next 2 +
    hours.

    CD Vann did a very good thing for all of us and
    all of new media last night. Thank you CD.

    Who knew Dave Murray was the freaking Dennis Miller of New Media? He was hilarious.
    Amber Naslund was her wonderful self, pointing out so many of the qualities that
    so many of us appreciate about you.

    Jon Swanson’s prayer was funny and pointed and again the perfect opening
    roaster. Liz was great as hippie Liz. It was hard to breath in parts of the badger video,
    whoever thought Cloris Leachman and Angel D would be roasting you via video?

    Every single roaster at the podium was funny, and your childhood friend Gary
    gave us a peak into the young geeky Chris.

    The entire night couldn’t have been better. The perfect amount of good hearted
    fun, touching heartfelt affection for you and each other and the kind of bawdy humor
    only real friends can share with each other.

    Did anyone else notice Jason Falls tearing up a bit when he got serious at the
    end? Again perfect pitch.

    And then you my friend, obviously inebriated and for the first time that I have
    ever seen, speechless. Dianne bringing you the little notes and you reading
    them aloud; it seriously couldn’t have been scripted better.

    Having a chance to meet and speak with your parents was an honor. I told them
    all of us who have been doing this for a while now have a responsibility to
    lead by example. That we as an industry are very fortunate to have you as one
    of those examples of what new media is about and what it should be. I told them
    it is obvious you realize this and try very hard to be a good example. It
    was obvious how proud they are of you. We are all proud of you Chris. We are
    all proud to say we are your friend. We are all proud to say we knew you before
    you were “The Chris Brogan”, and that despite your enormous
    responsibilities and commitments and unrealistic expectations that people put
    on you that you are still the same Chris we know and love.

    Thank you for sharing this evening with all of us and agreeing to be the butt
    of the joke all night. That took a lot of courage Chris; even if you needed a
    little supplement to get through it all

    • http://www.themurr.com/ David Murray

      Denis Miller of New Media? Nice. Thank you Rick.

  • http://twitter.com/NancyD68 Nancy Davis

    “Because in the end, the roast that people put on for me was a
    testimonial to the love that great people can share for a regular guy
    like me, and with every passing moment, it dawned on me that I’d read
    the entire situation wrong, and that it was nothing but love”

    There is such humility in that. Acceptance of where we are at any given moment. It is not the best way to cope, but we are all the same on so many levels.

    I remember very well a brief conversation we had on Twitter where I told you that you made my day. You told me I needed to raise the bar.

    I am here to tell you, I respect you more for this post than any other I have read from you. I am crying writing a comment for God’s sake! We are all human, and sometimes we don’t cope with fear all that well. We learn from it, and hopefully the next time it happens, we deal better.

    You are a regular guy with an incredible heart. Any person who ever has any dealings with you can see that right away.

    I am bookmarking this, to refer back to when I start wanting to be perfect all the time.

    I am glad you shared this with all of us.

    • http://www.thegoodnessgrows.com Mimi Meredith

      I was going to say something insightful but I would just like to say ditto, ditto, ditto to everything Nancy said.

      In a medium that can seem very superficial and ego-driven, Chris Brogan always has the most fearlessly honest way of keeping it real.

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    How we come out of an uncomfortable or difficult situation gives insight into who we are and at 4:30am hungover as all hell, you wrote a post thanking people.

    You got hammered to deal with it, yeah and. You had friends and family around you to be sure you were safe (best time to get hammered if you are going to do so IMO). I presume from reading this post, for you, it was not your best moment. However seeing the love and support from the community and your parents, it seems as if it was not something to beat yourself up over (if you are of course).

  • http://uptownuncorked.com geechee_girl

    :)

  • http://www.themurr.com/ David Murray

    Chris,

    So it is 4:30am and you are blogging… and with a hang over? I knew you were a mutant. Thank you for your compliments. Our mutual friend, @beckyjohns:twitter , described the fear you felt leading up to this event, and she also described the relief you felt knowing I was on the deck to poke jabs at you.

    To be honest, this made me nervous, because 1) I had no idea if you’d be in the mood for any of my jokes, and 2) I had not idea if anyone in the audience would catch my sense of humor.

    The foundation of good humor is humility. Both performer and audience need to remove their barriers if the joke is to going to find a home.

    You are right. You are not special, and neither are we. That whole night was simply a moment to celebrate family, friends, and laughter. Three things we don’t do enough.

    Get some rest Chris. You’ll never know when you will need to laugh again :)

  • http://twitter.com/barrymoltz barrymoltz

    Sorry I could not be there- celebrating my 20th anniversary with my honey!!

  • http://twitter.com/barrymoltz barrymoltz

    Sorry I could not be there- celebrating my 20th anniversary with my honey!!

  • Patricia Palmer1

     ”And, in the end, the love you take/Is equal to the love you make…”{Beatles}. My guess is you give a lot of love. Well done (er, roasted).

  • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

    Today we are rich :)

    • katBrogan

      esp those of us who had bets going on the # of gin drinks he’d consume. Ka-ching.

      • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

        oh my God, that’s hilarious. Good thing that Angie wasn’t aware of the wager, she totally could have rigged this one. Wait a second…..

  • http://ajleon.me ajleon

    Sorry, @melissaleon:twitter and I couldn’t be there, out nomading in the UK at the moment. We all love ya, bud. :) and I couldn’t be there, out nomading in the UK at the moment. We all love ya, bud. :)

  • http://twitter.com/RobinWalker Robin Walker

    First, I had a wonderful time hearing more about the man behind the machine. You are adored by many and the warmth filled the room amidst the humor.

    Second, I’m surprised you remember the night -  I thought you were drinking water with a lime in it. LOL

    • http://www.mkelive.com/ KatieFelten

      Haha Robin you rock 

  • katBrogan

    I’d like to ask that the Roasters open the thank-you gifts i am sending 50 feet away from all humans/animals. No reason.

  • http://www.mkelive.com/ KatieFelten

     it was a fantastic and fun event, loved loved loved the Brogan Badger video..and yes I geekd out a little when I noticed I was mentioned above, #toocool

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  • http://www.twistimage.com/blog Mitch Joel – Twist Image

     Drunk! LOL… I’m sure you were just who you were supposed to be: a real human being. This is why people connect and love you… I know it’s why I do. Congrats on everything – especially for taking it on the chin for charity… that’s all that really matters.

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  • http://nothingbutsocnet.blogspot.com/ Zena Weist

    Just seeing your roast vids…what a night of friends loving on you! I remember skyping with you a few weeks prior and seeing/hearing your dread of the evening and I have to confess that was part of the reason I bailed on roasting (though work was the lead factor). One just never knows with the likes of Jason Falls and your roaster crew exactly what you’d be served, ya know? ;) And in seeing your response…wow, you were toasted! but got across your love and gratitude, regardless. You are way too tough on yourself. Thanks for the shout-out. I was sicker than snot from our dinner in Chicago when I taped that. Jason could have ripped me on that vid but he only pushed as much as I could take. He’s got a teddy bear soul though, doesn’t he? 

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