Maybe the hostile political climate has made us want to channel our rage in a playful manner, but whatever the reason, for the past couple of years, comedic "roasts" - in which people volunteer to have people insult them for laughs - have been making a comeback. Recent televised roasts of celebrities like Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, and Charlie Sheen have proven buzz-worthy. There's even an entire Roast Battle show on Comedy Central and even the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner has basically become a series of zingers at politicians' expense.
The trend is reflected online in /r/RoastMe, a Sub-Reddit that has exploded in popularity. The premise is simple: people submit a picture of themselves holding a sign saying "Roast Me" (to prove it's voluntary), and other Reddit users post insults - the more savage, the better. Here's a selection of the most brutal takedowns - all in good fun, of course.
15 Mind The Gap
OK, this is like shooting fish in a proverbial barrel - if the fish has a big ol' gap between their front two teeth with a flashing target on it. Certainly, with a distinguishing characteristic like this, this guy had to know what the roasters would focus on, and he seems perfectly okay with it. It's the sort of thick skin you have to have to survive the abuse the Internet will heap on you when you ask for it like this (or frankly, even when you don't ask for it). Of course, having an easy target doesn't mean the zingers will automatically be good; in fact, it might make it harder to come up with something that stands out. That's what makes this joke all the more potent. Shifting the focus from the obvious gap to the tongue behind the "prison bars" of his teeth shows off the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that propels a perfect slam.
14 She's Got Legs
Here's another inventive one. This burn asks us, the readers, to take part by scrolling up from the bottom of the picture, starting with this young lady's revealing short shorts and moving up to her face, which, as the joke goes, is a disappointment by comparison. In this gal's defense, she's making one of those awkward faces that arises when you're not sure whether you want to smile or act sexy - or, based on her protruding tongue, maybe she's just having in an awkward situation. The end result is a weird "I'm constipated but I kind of enjoy it" sort of look. However, I can't defend the oddly placed side-of-the-head ponytail that, combined with her tongue, makes it look like she's on a ship that's tilting to the left. This is why some people take 20 minutes just to shoot one selfie. Poor thing.
13 Do You Even Lift?
Well, this joke could be interpreted a couple of different ways - neither of which is particularly flattering to this young man. You'd think most roasters would go after his seeming fetish for pebbles or his overly smug attitude for a guy who can't grow a full beard, but this one uses what's perhaps his best attribute—his muscles—against him, saying they're not necessary to handle children. You could read this as implying he's a inappropriate with children, a traditional roast insult for a man and thus probably what is intended here - or it could be implying that he fights kids for fun, which isn't much better. Of course, neither one explains why the heck he's holding a rock with a face drawn on it.
12 Put A Ring On It
Let me be the first to say what everyone is thinking: ouch. This game is not for the insecure nor the faint of heart, but we should remember that, per this woman's sign, she is literally asking for it. This brutal assessment of her looks draws parallels to the character Gollum from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies—probably because of her large, feline eyes—and then adds insult to injury by presuming that she has few options for getting married, thus making her, like Gollum, desperate to get a ring. Let's hope her name isn't Precious. The comparison to Gollum is ridiculous, of course, because her hair, for one, is much nicer and fuller than his wispy strands, and he wouldn't be caught dead wearing spaghetti straps.
Holy cow. Some putdowns hit the nail so perfectly on the head, you have to just tip your hat to the roaster and call it a day. This particular roaster makes the astute observation that this science student's, um, "unique" facial structure resembles the house of Spongebob Squarepants' frenemy Squidward. How can a head be shaped like a house, you ask? It can when the house resembles the stone heads from Easter Island.
The sharp angles and sloping brow on this guy's face make this comparison a slam dunk. And they also make sure he'll never need sunglasses because his eyes will forever remain shrouded in shadows. Finding a roast this spot-on is especially nice because it's so refreshing to find something productive in the comments section of an Internet post for once.
10 Ship Shape
This photo shows that you don't have to have anything particularly "off" about your appearance to be taken down a notch in a roast. The young woman looks beautiful, but that doesn't stop someone from delivering this harsh putdown, which can be taken a number of different ways. My assumption is that it means she resembles a sex doll that comes packaged in a shipping container. (The come hither look, combined with the dead eyes, put this one over the top for me.) Or perhaps, with her Eastern European looks and barely-there clothing, it means she resembles a mail-order bride. On a darker note, I suppose it could imply she's a victim of some sinister sex trafficking ring that Liam Neeson will need to break up with his "particular set of skills."
9 Jazz Lover
Oh boy. That sound you heard was 10,000 people shouting "Oooohhhh!!!" and falling off their respective chairs as they simultaneously read this thousand-degree burn on various computer screens around the world. This poor teen music lover opened himself up for this slam by offering up the tidbit of information that he's into jazz, setting a ball on a tee that this roaster smacked for a home run by simply changing one letter in the word "jazz." Now that is one efficient takedown. As painful as it seems, though, this kid has no one to blame but himself. Not only did he invite the roast, but he fed the roasters raw material for their jokes. Otherwise, they probably would've just razzed him about a hairdo that looks like it barely survived being in a Sharknado.
Aaaaaand we have a new winner. You have to wonder if some of the obviously attractive people like this who ask to be roasted do so because they think no one will be able to come up with something to diminish the luster of their perfection. Well, if that's the case, mission failed—miserably. I guess the look this woman was going for when she made this face is sultry or seductive, but it kind of comes off as just dead inside—the sort of "let's get this over with" look that no man wants to see, no matter how cute she is. The roaster's description sums this up perfectly; she even has only one hand showing, so you know, this burn might actually be more accurate than we realize.
Some people who submit their photos for roasting are so bland and generic looking, it's hard to come up with any original zingers for them. You certainly can't say that about this, um, guy (I think?) though. With his multi-colored hair, black fingernails, and excessive makeup (with some sort of weird yellow-ish base that seems to be striving for the jaundiced look), he gives roasters plenty of material to work with. And this roaster nails him with the observation that he resembles one of the colorful characters from Pixar's Inside Out (which represent the emotions of joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness) - except with much more of a sickly, low-life, sexually transmitted spin. Personally, I might have assumed he was the personification of clown nightmares or Criss Angel's bad dreams, but this works just fine.
6 Two For One
Here's the first twosome on the list, and by targeting two birds with one stone, this harsh putdown has twice the sting. It plays off the premise that a common fantasy amongst horny guys is being turned on by two women together, but in this instance, the roaster rejects the potential eroticism of that situation - like someone who accidentally walks in on their parents doing the horizontal mambo. The question of what is the opposite of "Can I watch?" is rhetorical, of course, but it might lead you to wonder what really is the opposite. "Can I gouge my eyes out?" "Can you watch me?" "Can you just go away so I can look at some weirdly specific Internet videos that would get me ostracized from most segments of society?"
This hilarious gag works on a couple of different levels. First, it pokes fun at this guy's sexual prowess and his ability to attract, well, anyone. Then, it combines that barb with a swipe at his resemblance to Jesus - granted, somewhat more bloated and more dependent on modern technology. The end result is a vicious smack down that will have you wincing with schadenfreude delight. An alternative slam could be "The only way you're getting NAILED is on a cross." Or, given that Jesus was a carpenter, maybe you could say, "The only way you're nailing anything is on a cross," or "The only wood you're going to get is on a cross" or "The only thing getting erected around here is a cross." Okay, I'll be heading off to Hell now.
4 Tape Head
This joke will strike a chord with people of a certain age. Those of you under 20 might find yourself asking, "What's an audio cassette? Is that like a videocassette? Wait, what's a videocassette?" And even if you've heard of audio cassettes, you might not have actually experienced them first-hand enough to realize what the "guts" of a tape looks like. Older folks, on the other hand, know all too well the sheer terror of hearing the warped audio and crunching, grinding sound of your favorite tape being eaten by your boombox, then pressing the stop button and pulling it out, only to have its dark, shiny innards being pulled out of the tape's belly, caught in the inner workings of the tape deck. You try desperately to roll it all back inside the tape, sticking the eraser of a number 2 pencil in one of the holes and turning gently, like you're performing delicate surgery, but you know even if you succeed, it will never sound the same again. Anyway, that's what her hair looks like. Pain and sorrow.
3 Hairy Potter
You don't have to be a gamer to get this sick burn. I've never played a second of a Final Fantasy video game, but it's hard to avoid those commercials, which always seem to feature Japanese anime-style protagonists with ridiculously stylized hair, and yes, this guy definitely seems to be aiming in that direction. The key word here, of course, is "aiming." Not hitting the bullseye by any means, but he is somewhere in the ballpark - well, maybe the parking lot outside the ballpark. The thing I find most fascinating is how much time and effort it must take trying to make it look like you spend NO time or effort on your hair. It's like half of the hair is eating his face and the other half is running away from his face. And let's not talk about the dye job.
2 Fake And Bake
Here's another two-for-one deal, and boy are these two asking for it. The all-white preppy clothing, the sunglasses in the collar, the swimming pool, the fake tans, the cheese-eating grins - this couple looks like villains from a Revenge of the Nerds movie. But have no fear, the Internet is here! Cutting Buffy and Rupert (as I like to imagine they're named) down to size is this roaster, who nails them both individually with one vicious swipe. The roaster simultaneously implies this dude uses sex dolls while targeting his girlfriend's own talent for "roasting," citing her unnaturally burnt orange skin tone. Why do people put them up for these kinds of insults. Who knows, they might be very nice people, but if you haven't noticed, all's fair in love and roasting.
I feel a slight twinge of guilt about laughing at this one, only because he looks a little young. I'm sure there's a cutoff age at which point it stops being a roast and starts becoming cyber-bullying of children, and while this kid comes closest to that point of anyone on this list, he seems old enough to handle it. And really, with the hoodie, the Beats by Dre headphones and the sideways baseball cap personalized with BIG D written on the side, he is just oozing with roastability. This roaster hammers him for his trendy to the point of desperation appearance, basically calling him out for looking like a nerd in rapper's clothing. But maybe, just maybe, he's dressed like that just to go undercover to infiltrate the lair of the preppy couple in the previous photo, in order to get...REVENGE OF THE NERDS.