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When I would emcee parties where I worked, we did a “roast” of the guest of honor. However, the lines couldn’t be hurtful because, not only the guest of honor was in the audience, but also that person’s family. If the lines touched a nerve (and this happened) the guest of honor and friends and family would leave. I had three rules that helped to avoid hurtful humor. (1) Kid the person what they kidded themselves about. (2) Kid about things that didn’t really matter. (3) Make the jokes so unbelievable that even if there was a real insult in there, no one in the audience would accept it as real. The final caution I applied was to pick someone who was particularly close to the guest of honor and review the material with him or her. If they felt it might be construed as offensive, I dropped the gag. It’s easier to get new jokes than it is to get new friends. Will Rogers summed it up pretty well when he said, “If there’s no malice in your heart, there can’t be none in your jokes.”