Yesterday marked Roast Battle’s sixth birthday, and while Moses, Coach, Jeff and the crew are celebrating it at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, we’ll remain stateside and honor the best and brightest for the past year with the fifth annual Roastie Awards. The show covered a lot of ground in the last 12 months – another season on Comedy Central, a whole bunch of road gigs, and the usual dose of bloodshed in the Belly Room. Today, exclusive ballots will be going out to dozens of trusted members of the Roast Battle Community, and in two weeks we’ll find out who’s walking away with the hardware. Let’s get right into the nominees!

Undercard Of The Year

2015 Winner: Liz Stewart vs. Leah Knauer
2016 Winner: Joe Dosch vs. Earl Skakel
2017 Winner: Joe Eurell vs. Haiti
2018 Winner: Dan Nolan vs. Zach Stein

The nominees are…

  • Digits vs. Lee Hudson
  • Johannes Finnlaugsson vs. Petrina Solange
  • Sarah Lawrence vs. Alice Hamilton
  • Mia Mars vs. Johnny Stewart
  • Dylan Sullivan vs. Lou Misiano
  • Tom Whalen vs. Josh Waldron

Undercards are supposed to highlight the best of the new battlers and that’s exactly what happened this year, as this category features 12 first-time Roastie nominees. The style clash between Mexican battle rapper Digits and British comic Lee Hudson resulted in a classic clash back in May, while Swedish battlers Johannes Finnlaugsson and Petrina Solange somehow stole the show at Best of the Belly Room II, putting on a battle that shined as the best of a star-studded night. Keeping with the international theme, Australian battler Sarah Lawrence made one of the most impressive debuts in Roast Battle history with a win over Alice Hamilton in an epic undercard earlier this year. Mia Mars and Johnny Stewart put some rather interesting stakes on their fight in January, resulting in one of the hottest crowds and battles the Belly Room saw all year. Dylan Sullivan and Lou Misiano put on a joke writing clinic in December and get a well-deserved nomination as a result. And lastly, after creating these very awards five years ago, Josh Waldron gets his first ever nomination following his absolutely killer battle with Tom Whalen. In a year where Waldron really stepped up his performance to a new level, this fight stood out as one of the best we saw all year.

Rookie Of The Year

2015 Winner: Olivia Grace
2016 Winner: Dan Nolan
2017 Winner: Bryan Vokey
2018 Winner: Brian McDaniel

The nominees are…

  • Cole Alexander (2-3-1)
  • Deirdre Devlin (3-3)
  • Digits (3-4)
  • Sarah Fatemi (4-3)
  • Alice Hamilton (3-3)
  • Ryan Nesen (4-0)

In past years, this category has usually sported a pretty clear favorite. This is the first time where you could make a really strong case for all six nominees. In a field where the candidates are largely hovering around the .500 mark, Ryan Nesen’s undefeated record stands out. However, most of the other names here have arguably left a bigger impression through consistent quality battles. Digits and Alice Hamilton, for instance, both pick up their second nominations here after putting forth classic undercard fights earlier this year. Cole Alexander and Sarah Fatemi have both had their ups and downs during their rookie campaigns but show lots of promise, while Emmy winner Deirdre Devlin has quickly made a name for herself in the roasting community. While everyone else in the group has mostly stuck with similarly skilled opponents, Devlin has stepped up to take on battle vets like Heather Marulli and Ashley Johnson.

Rebuttal Of The Year

2015 Winner: Pat Barker – “That was two jokes… you handled
that like a true Boston comic, it was a marathon and it ended in a bombing.”
(vs. Toby Muresianu)
2016 Winner: Pat Barker – “You’re right Keith, my baby did die before it was
born. Which means that me and your father have spent the exact same amount of time with our children.” (vs. Keith Carey)
2017 Winner: Jay Light – “Kevin is right, my ex is an actress who tried standup comedy, and dating her was great training for this battle because I’m amazing at wrecking unfunny pussies.” (vs. Kevin McNamara)
2018 Winner: Nicole Becannon – “You know Keith, it doesn’t even hurt my feelings that you don’t think I’m attractive and that you wouldn’t fuck me, because sticks and stones would break my bones but Keith would fucking crush me.” (vs. Keith Carey)

And the nominees are…

  • Pat Barker: “I know, you could’ve really used those stem cells, huh?” (miscarriage rebuttal vs. Joe Eurell)
  • Doug Fager: “They’re Virginia Slims, you wouldn’t know anything about it!” (rebuttal to a joke about Doug and his mom sharing cigarettes after sex vs. Paige Wesley)
  • Leah Kayajanian: “I’m surprised you can even recognize a bird when it isn’t in a KFC bucket.” (“you look like a bird” rebuttal vs. Paige Wesley)
  • Greg Roque: “Maybe after this I should fuck your girlfriend because she clearly likes being on top and doing all the work.” (rebuttal to a joke about Greg’s dick working vs. Armando Torres)
  • Zach Stein: “We get it, I have a big dick. We all get it, right? It’s very important that we get it. It’s like surprisingly big. This thing is so big it could be Heather’s dick.” (vs. Heather Marulli)
  • Paige Wesley: “It’s true, I am fat. It’s a pity. I got all these chins and you couldn’t even get one.” (vs. Doug Fager)

The rebuttal game in the Belly Room is evolving, and this year’s most effective comebacks are proof. In past years, this category was dominated by carefully written counterstrikes that served as a battler’s full turn. Now, the game has shifted to shorter, quicker flips that serve as the first part of a one-two punch. Case in point Pat Barker, a two-time winner in this category, who finds himself with a fifth straight Rebuttal nomination thanks to his simplest one yet – a well-timed stem cell shot that crushed Joe Eurell. Or Doug Fager, a 2015 and 2017 nominee for Rebuttal of the Year, going off the top of his head with the Virginia Slims comeback against Paige Wesley. Wesley also fell victim to Leah Kayajanian’s burn, one that shut the room down after a series of comebacks between the two battlers. Greg Roque opted for a more classic rebuttal against Armando Torres, while Zach Stein delivered a knockout punch against Heather Marulli. Lastly, Wesley gets her revenge after being on the receiving end of two burns earlier in the category for her comeback against Doug “No Chins” Fager.

Most Improved Battler

This is the first year we will be presenting this award.

And the nominees are…

  • Julian Fernandez (5-1)
  • Kelsey Lane (5-3)
  • Tim McGorry (3-1)
  • Lou Misiano (3-3)
  • Quentin Thomas (4-1)
  • Tom Whalen (5-1)

The inaugural presentation of the Most Improved Award was necessitated by so many battlers making significant leaps this year. Julian Fernandez entered the voting period at 2-3 and rattled off five consecutive wins before finally losing to Quentin Thomas a couple weeks back (more on him later). Kelsey Lane earned a Rookie of the Year nomination last year for her 4-4 mark, then improved to 5-3 and delivered a couple of ass-whoopings in the process as she showed steady improvement. Tim McGorry sported a pretty solid record coming in to this year, but really stepped his game up over the last 12 months. Lou Misiano technically debuted last year, but made a rapid ascension into main eventing during this voting period. Quentin Thomas stands out as the veteran here – he earns a third career Roastie nomination after delivering a solid string of five great battles and barely missing out on the Battler of the Year conversation. Lastly, Tom Whalen earns a second nomination for making a giant leap from middling undercard battler to bona fide main eventer while going 5-1 in the process.

Main Event Of The Year

2015 Winner: Keith Carey vs. Connor McSpadden
2016 Winner: Pat Barker vs. Keith Carey
2017 Winner: Pat Barker vs. Doug Fager / Robin Tran vs. Keith Carey 2018 Winner: Jamar Neighbors vs. Nicole Becannon / Joe Eurell vs. Robin Tran

(NOTE: This category has received a little format change this year. Originally, it was just “Battle of the Year” and it encapsulated only three-round battles. In 2017, we saw an increase in one-round, five-joke bouts and had to expand to two categories for the two types of fights. In 2019, the three-round battle is almost extinct, existing solely for title fights. So we’ve combined the two to cover all main events. If you want to give extra credence to a three-round fight when voting, that’s entirely up to you.)

And the nominees are…

  • Pat Barker vs. Joe Eurell
  • Keith Carey vs. Doug Fager
  • Alex Duong vs. Toby Muresianu
  • Brett Erickson vs. Zach Stein
  • Leah Kayajanian vs. Paige Wesley
  • Armando Torres vs. Jacob Trimmer

Pat Barker earns his second nomination of the night and 15th of his battle career for his January war with Joe Eurell – a great battle that was heightened by a Dave Chappelle appearance. Doug Fager also picks up his 15th career nomination for his Best Of The Belly Room I battle against Keith Carey; Carey earns a record 17th career nomination and took home the victory in the BOTBR fight. In our only three-round battle to be nominated, Alex Duong shocked the world and took home the title after beating Toby Muresianu in double-overtime. Brett Erickson’s undefeated streak was a huge storyline this year, and in his record-tying eighth consecutive win he and Zach Stein put on an instant classic. Leah Kayajanian and Paige Wesley had a rebuttal-filled technical war back in November, while Armando Torres and Jacob Trimmer started off the voting period with an absolutely insane fight that led to the ultra-rare “keep going until you drop” OT period. It was officially ruled a draw after about 15 jokes apiece.

TV Battle Of The Year

2017 Winner: Mike Lawrence vs. Ralphie May

And the nominees are…

  • Nicole Becannon vs. Joe Eurell
  • Alex Duong vs. Robin Tran
  • Tony Hinchcliffe vs. Mike Lawrence
  • Jeff Ross vs. Blake Griffin
  • Yamaneika Saunders vs. Jamar Neighbors
  • Jason Sklar vs. Randy Sklar

After earning a Roastie-high five nominations last year, Nicole Becannon gets her first 2019 nom for her Comedy Central Digital battle with Joe Eurell. Alex Duong earns his second nomination of the evening and fifth of his career for his all-out war with Robin Tran, while Mike Lawrence looks to win the award for a second time after his joke writer’s showcase with Tony Hinchcliffe. Blake Griffin has one Rookie of the Year Award, two All-NBA Team Awards, six All-Star selections, and now, finally, a Roastie nomination. His epic slugfest with Jeff Ross helped push Roast Battle to new heights while further solidifying Griffin as a legitimate comic talent. Oh, and turns out Jeff Ross is pretty good at roasting too. Yamaneika Saunders and Jamar Neighbors stole the show in their vicious, high-intensity fight, while the Sklar Brothers didn’t hold back in their sibling showdown.

Joke Of The Year

2015 Winner: Pat Barker – “I can’t wait until you kill yourself. I want to read
your suicide note; mainly because it’ll come in a delicious cookie and have my
lucky numbers on the back.” (vs. Alex Duong)
2016 Winner: Dan Nolan – “When Pat lost his child to a miscarriage, there was nothing funny about it. Which is how Pat knew he was the father.” (vs. Pat Barker) 2017 Winner: Robin Tran – “On 9/11, Keith missed a flight that crashed into the World Trade Center. Which means he’s personally responsible for killing the two people that took his seat.” (vs. Keith Carey) 2018 Winner: Joe Eurell – “You know, when I was ten years old, the state took me away from my mother, and I haven’t seen her in 21 years. So, like Robin, both our mothers want their sons back.” (vs. Robin Tran)

And the nominees are…

  • Nicole Becannon: “Before she transitioned, she was fired for sexual harassment and kissed women without their permission. I mean Robert Tran was so creepy, he even kept a woman trapped in his body.” (vs. Robin Tran)
  • Keith Carey: “Here’s how forgettable Dan is. He’s done 18 battles, he’s written for every season of the show, and most of you didn’t notice that I just called him Dan.” (vs. Doug Fager)
  • Doug Fager: “Paige is actually getting married at a place called The Madonna Inn. It’s fitting that it’s at The Madonna Inn, because your dress is gonna need a lot of material, girl!” (vs. Paige Wesley)
  • Isaac Hirsch: “As of last week, Jay no longer works at the Comedy Store. You hear that, comics in the back? You don’t have to laugh at these anymore.” (vs. Jay Light)
  • Jay Light: “Isaac is what happens when you straighten out the paperclip from Microsoft Word.” (vs. Isaac Hirsch)
  • Heather Marulli: “Deirdre said she once had a dog eat her out. I guess he likes dry food.” (vs. Deirdre Devlin)
  • Toby Muresianu: “Jamar didn’t always have that gap in his teeth, it wore away from whistling at fat girls. What do you use that chain for, to floss?” (vs. Jamar Neighbors)
  • Dan Nolan: “Robin’s personality is a lot like her cock – it doesn’t come off the way she wants it to.” (vs. Robin Tran)
  • Greg Roque: “This is a true story: Sarah tried to kill herself by throwing a rock in the air and standing underneath it. So, let me set the record straight – I’m disabled. Sarah is fucking retarded.” (vs. Sarah Keller)
  • Zach Stein: “I want to do something to make this battle fair, get rid of any potential judges bias. [Zach opens his shirt, spits on his nipple, then rubs the spit all over it] There, now I’m as gross as Heather.” (vs. Heather Marulli)

Wow. Not much to say here. You can see the jokes – ten killer burns from ten great battlers. Nicole Becannon gets her second nomination of the night and tenth of her career for her Best Of The Belly Room I joke, while Keith Carey extends his record to 18 nominations for his joke at the same event. Dan Nolan will try to become the first person to win two Joke Of The Year awards, as he earns a tenth career nomination. And as a testament to his writing ability, Toby Muresianu takes home a Joke Of The Year nomination for the fifth consecutive year. Will 2019 be the year he finally takes home the award in this category?

Battler Of The Year

2015 Winner: Keith Carey
2016 Winner: Keith Carey 2017 Winner: Kim Congdon 2018 Winner: Nicole Becannon

And the nominees are…

  • Pat Barker (7-4)
  • Nicole Becannon (5-3)
  • Keith Carey (4-5)
  • Alex Duong (6-1)
  • Brett Erickson (4-1)
  • Isaac Hirsch (5-1)
  • Sarah Keller (7-3)

For the first time ever, much of the best work from the top battlers was done outside of the Belly Room. Between TV, festivals, and random club gigs across the country, several of these battlers were able to boast really interesting and diverse resumes. Let’s take a closer look. Pat Barker went 7-4, including a TV win over Roastmasters champion Eli Sairs, a Belly Room victory over Joe Eurell, and a winning record in battles in Tulsa, San Diego, Flagstaff, Austin, Nashville, Huntsville, Houston, and Denver. Nicole Becannon pulled off a TV win over Eurell and won the “Road to Texas” tournament by mowing through Doug Fager, Greg Roque, and Keith Carey. Carey, a two-time winner of this prestigious award, rebounded after a couple years of struggling in the Belly Room, as he pulled off three huge wins there this year (against Fager, Eurell, and Dan Nolan). Alex Duong definitely boasts the most balanced resume – big Belly Room wins (Best Of Volume I vs. Frank Castillo and the title fight vs. Toby Muresianu), big TV wins (vs. Robin Tran), and big road wins (in Tulsa vs. Barker and Jay Light and Phoenix vs. Joe Dosch). His only blemish? A SXSW loss to Sarah Keller, who earns the nomination after going an unreal 4-0 on the road to counteract her decent Belly Room season. We round out the voting with two dark-horse candidates that followed a more traditional schedule; first, Brett Erickson and the second half of his epic 10-0 run, and then Isaac Hirsch, who posted an impressive 5-1 record with big wins over Jay Light, Caesar Lizardo, and Jacob Trimmer.

And that’s that! The 2019 Roastie nominations are officially live. Check back two weeks from today to see who takes home the awards. Let’s Roast!

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