Book Review: Complete Book of Roasts Boasts and Toasts

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Complete Book of Roasts, Boasts,and Toasts

Author: Elmer Pasta

Author’s web site:

Date: 1982

Publisher: Parker Publishing Company

ISBN: 0-13-158329-8

Length: 375 pages

Quote: “Say you’ve been forewarned that you will be the subject of a roast. List all your own personal characteristics and look them up here. Jot down the Boasts under each category.”

Elmer Pasta’s claim to fame was that he supplied simple one-liners like these to comedians, including Phyllis Diller and Art Linkletter, who worked his jokes into their famous performances. If you liked the sort of jokes that can still be heard on endlessly rerun TV comedies from the early 1960s, here are 375 pages of them.

Each “characteristic” (job title, hobby, relationship to the joker, feature of appearance) that could safely be ridiculed, under the rules of 1980s etiquette, here receives four comic insults (the roasts), one comic comeback line (the boasts), and one joke that may be insulting or may be a neutral silly pun (the toasts). Thus:

“APARTMENT MANAGER: ROASTS. She said she has a lush apartment for rent. I believed her when I tripped over a drunk!…” (To read the other three roasts, you’ll have to buy the book.)

“BOAST. All my apartments have nice views but there’s no overlooking the rent!

“TOAST. Here’s a toast to our apartment manager—the only way you can get her to paint your apartment is to move out!”

With a few obvious exceptions (mostly in the relationships category), the jokes are unisex, alternating between “he” and “she”; two of the other roasts cast the apartment manager as a “he.” Most of them are generic, silly, and harmless.

To anyone over age 40 (or anyone who has spent a lot of weekends watching one of the Reruns Channels with Grandma) these jokes will have a vaguely familiar ring. A few may even be too old to make sense to younger people. Do young people still recognize “a tomato with lots of lettuce” as slang for “a young woman with lots of money”? (People my age understood it, but didn’t say it—we had newer words.) Then again, if you want to participate in a “roast” and exchange comic insults with a friend, the age and familiarity of these jokes may make them safe.

According to Google, Elmer Pasta is alive and well, although his Facebook and Linked In pages are visible only to visitors who are logged in through one of those sites, which annoys me so much I’m not even willing to bother logging in to Linked In. He’s still a writer and advertiser, and some of his toasts are now available as reusable graphics. Right. Here’s the kind of e-friend I want to be to Pasta:

Friendship quote - Here's a toast to someone who's truly a best..

And to other writers whose early works I resell as Fair Trade Books. To buy the Complete Book of Roasts, Boasts, and Toasts, send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. From this $10, Pasta or a charity of his choice will receive $1. If you buy four copies, send me $25, and Pasta or his charity will receive $4.