What It’s Like To Roast Chris Brogan

by Jason Falls |

Wednesday night in Chicago, I hosted the unGeeked Elite Roast of Chris Brogan. The event was put together for two reasons. First, unGeeked Elite (a traveling social media marketing retreat/conference), wanted to raise money for a good local charity (Sit Stay Read) prior to its event there this week. Second, it offered an opportunity for those who could participate to pay tribute to Chris, who has been an inspiration, mentor and friend to a lot of us.

Roasting Chris Brogan is pretty easy in and of itself. You find 3-4 qualities or facts that can be lampooned a bit and come up with potentially humorous, tongue-in-cheek material like this:

  • Tonight, we want to honor a man who is a legend in the world of social media. His influence spans the globe. His insights have forced seismic shifts in companies. And his wit and charm have made him loved around the world. We want to honor that man tonight… But since Doc Searls couldn’t make it, we’ll roast Brogan instead.
  • Tonight’s event is about raising money for a great charity. The good news is that you’re supporting a good cause. The bad news is this event is associated with Chris Brogan, so it’ll cost you $27 a month to leave.
  • Many people think Twitter is 140 characters because of SMS texting limitations. It’s actually because the Twitter guys figured that’s how long they could keep Brogan’s attention.

There were more, but in the interest of space and context (yes, I got a little R-rated), I’ll just leave it there.

But Roasting Chris Brogan is also terrifying. If he’s not the nicest guy on the planet, I’m not sure who is. Picking on someone who not only is so god-awful generous with his time and spirit — not to mention who second-guesses himself constantly and thinks because he didn’t respond to one of the 524,000 messages directed at him each day that he’s somehow less of a human being than the rest of us — is just wrong. I’ve never seen Chris cry … at least not sober … but I know he’s an emotional guy, an introvert at his core and wears his emotions on his sleeve sometimes.

Not to mention his wife, mother and father would be there.

So the task at hand for Joe Sorge, Liz Strauss, Dave Murray, Troy Janisch, Amber Naslund, Jeff Willinger, Rob Hatch and me Wednesday wasn’t all shits and giggles.

But boy, did we have fun. And the Brogans … all of them … loved it. (Or so they claim.)

I put together some videos from friends and folks we asked to participate who couldn’t be there in person. (Thank you Jessica Northey, Priya Ramesh, Shashi Bellamkonda, et. al., for the leg work!) Remember not to take them out of context. We were roasting the guy, after all. The first video was a little play on Chris’s “celebrity” status. As big of a deal as Chris is in social media, we asked some celebrity types (both Internet and otherwise) to help roast him. Here’s what they responded with:

The second video was more of a “people who know Chris well” who wanted to pay more tribute than poke fun. But I took some liberties with the subtitles.

Big thanks to the folks who participated. We didn’t have to beg, which was awesome.

Lost in a lot of the witty banter of the evening were a few things I said that I want to make sure everyone hears. My script for the evening included this:

Chris has had a tremendous role in my success, both as an inspiration from a distance, like he has been for all of you, but also as someone who has actively helped me elevate my name, my game and my business. To say I would be here today without him and his influence would be flat wrong. For all his aw-shucks charm and sometimes annoying habit of wanting to be everybody’s friend, Chris is the real deal, through and through. Where I’m from, we say, them’s good people. Chris isn’t just good people. He’s the best kind.

No man has done more for more people than Chris Brogan has. That’s why he has influence. That’s why he is popular … because he more than any of us wanna bes, deserves it.

It was a pleasure honoring Chris Wednesday. He does deserve it, even if his self-image and modesty issues won’t let him think so.

We love you, Chris. That’s all we really wanted you to hear.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).