by Pat Barker
In the world of Roast Battle, there is perhaps nobody more underrated than Alex Duong. He comes in at a severe disadvantage simply by being Not White in a room where racial material makes the crowd pop harder than anything. He faces top tier opponents every single time. He wins more often than he loses. He’s ranked #21. He recently won four consecutive rounds, thanks in part to a rare 2-0 sweep over the unbeaten-at-the-time Guam Felix. He always comes prepared, never slacks off, and he improves consistently. But for some reason, he flies mostly under the radar. It doesn’t matter to him though. Alex is one of the ultimate “for the love of the game” guys. He just loves to battle. In addition to his tenth Belly Room battle this week, you can find him battling damn near every week at the Roast Wars show in Temecula. Before his huge Top 25 clash with Anna Valenzuela, Alex talked to VerbalViolence.TV about his dream opponent for Bill Burr, crushing souls in the battle, and his role as a pioneer of banjo jokes.
Why do you battle?
First off, there’s no audience like the one in the Belly
Room. Second, I’m from Texas where you either go big or go home. When a joke
hits, you feel like a fuckin’ rockstar at The Garden. On the absolute opposite
end of the spectrum, when a joke bombs, there’s nothing but the sound of your
soul being crushed. There’s no rush like it. One thing that remains consistent
is the Roast Battle community. A lot of my friends today in comedy are
roasters. We bond by helping each other and discussing our favorite roast
jokes/performers. Not to mention, shitting on the mediocre ones. It’s all in
good fun but it’s still a sport and literally the only one most of us are good
at. In the end, I’m just glad no one’s feelings get hurt. If you do get
emotional, go back home and find something else to suck at.
What’s your favorite battle that you’ve ever been a part
Hands down, it would be my battle against Pat Barker. I was
in the midst of looking for an opponent for my third battle and I had seen Pat
perform. He is a certified beast. When I asked him to battle, he even gave me a
disclaimer: “You know I’m not gonna be easy, right?” I told him I
already had 10 jokes written because that’s what you do. We agreed and Moses
gave us a date. I must’ve written 125 jokes for that battle. The day came and
Pat took the first round. I took the second one. We went joke for joke in the
third until he dropped the Hiroshima of roast jokes against me. Still hasn’t
been beaten in my eyes. There was no recovering. After the battle Pat said to
me, “I didn’t think you were gonna be that hard.” It was in that
moment I knew this was something I’m good at. In the following weeks, the two
of us took our lovely ladies, who we’d said some of the worst possible things
any human could regurgitate, on a sweet double date.
What is the greatest joke anyone has used
Pat Barker against me: “After I beat you, me and the Wave are gonna run a train on your girlfriend. I just need someone from your
family to build the tracks for it first.” BARZ
What is the most underappreciated joke you’ve
ever told? One that didn’t work nearly as well as you expected.
Against Dan Nolan: “You look like a used banjo
salesman.” I thought it was one of the funniest jokes I’d written and it
floored me that it took the audience a while to absorb it. By the time the
audience got it, it was too late. The only saving grace was when Hinchcliffe
mentioned he in fact did buy a banjo that week and he did look a lot like Dan.
Banjo jokes are just way ahead of the times.
Who are your favorite people to watch on nights
where you’re not battling?
Earl Skakel because no one can replicate him. He’s like the
Steph Curry of Roast Battle. He doesn’t need to make a half-court shot off the
defending team’s logo but he will because fuck you. You’ll likely go home with
a set of broken ankles, too. He’s also one of the nicest guys around.
What was your favorite Wave moment?
Jeremiah shaving his pubes. That shit is legendary and
apparently, TV friendly. That’s where magic happens.
You decide to retire, but not before doing
three more battles. Who are the opponents?
Mike Lawrence, Leah Kayajanian, and Robin Tran.
If you could witness a Roast Battle between any
two comics ever, who would you pick?
Jim Jefferies vs. Bill Burr.
Describe the process of preparing for battle.
Once a battle is scheduled, I immediately switch my
home screen to their photo to get the hate flowing. Chances are I already have
jokes written because I keep a file on people I find interesting. Then I
cross-reference those jokes with ones I left on the cutting floor of other
battles. From there I usually hit one maybe two mics at the most to put them on
their feet. The rest is a secret Asian family recipe.
Should anything be off-limits in the Roast Battle?
Absolutely not. However, if an opponent makes a special request with good reason, I will oblige. I don’t want to ruin their lives; only their souls.