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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