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by Pat Barker

Above all else, Roast Battle is a collection of moments.
There are winners and losers, rankings, tournaments, and a champion. But when
all is said and done, you gain Belly Room immortality by creating those moments
that people will never forget. This year, the Roasties debuted an award
designed to commemorate those moments. The nominees were star studded – comedy legend Jim Carrey
showing up to judge could’ve been a runaway winner. And if that didn’t take it,
surely it would be the time that Dave Chappelle took it a step further and
actually went up ON STAGE to be roasted by Joe Dosch and Pete Cornacchione as a
tiebreaker. Nope. The voters shunned Carrey and Chappelle in favor of Doug
Fager.

I’ve been at the battle pretty much every Tuesday for the
last two years. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it louder than when Doug
demolished Tony Hinchcliffe. Tony, the premiere bully judge, has delivered
hundreds of insults from the VIP section. Others have tried valiantly to take
him down and failed every single time. On this early May night, all of that
changed. Hinchcliffe threw out a seemingly endless supply of jokes about Doug’s
dead brother. Eventually, Doug retaliated. “Tony shouldn’t be so mean, my
brother is the only one who saw his Netflix special”. The room erupted. The
Wave danced. Doug’s opponent, Toby Muresianu, even let out a rare laugh. Coach Tea
played “(I’m In Love With The) Coco”. And Tony just sat there, speechless. When
the moment finally died down, Doug doubled down. “I’m just kidding. Nobody saw
Tony’s Netflix special”. With that, the room popped even harder. It was as
effective of an anti-bullying PSA as anyone had ever seen, and it was one of
the greatest moments in the show’s history. This Tuesday, Doug will try his
luck with another Tony as he squares off with the undefeated Tony Bartolone.
Before that, he took some time to answer some questions from VerbalViolence.TV.

Why
do you battle?

I
battle for a few reasons. I love busting balls. I love hearing jokes at my
expense almost as much as I love telling them at others. I think it’s comedy in
its most original form. Stand up is a lot about not taking things in the world
so seriously, but Roast Battle is all about not taking ourselves so seriously.
I love competition. I think battling is the most intense type of performance.
Each joke matters. Mostly I love the community. Getting up on that stage
creates a bond with the people you battle and respect for others that do. I’ve
never felt more of a family atmosphere than with battlers. You have to do it to
know what it is up there and very few people do.

What’s
your favorite battle that you’ve ever been a part of?

Probably
Leah Kayajanian. I wrote really well for that one and had a lot of fun with the
jokes. She’s also an amazing battler and a friend so anytime you get to put
those things together it’s fun.

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What is the greatest joke anyone has used against you?

Toby
Muresianu burned me with a joke that was something like, “Doug is moving
back to Wisconsin to manage an Applebees… he just doesn’t know it yet.”
I fuckin’ love that joke.

What is the most underappreciated joke you’ve ever told? One that didn’t work nearly as well as you expected.

Mostly
I feel like when a joke didn’t work there was a reason. With Jay Light I got a
little cute and said, “Jay Light if you want to know what your audiences
think while you’re on stage, just reverse your first and last name.” There
is a lot of leg work in that joke for the audience. It maybe plays better when
you can read it but either way it was a cutesy fucking joke that left the punch
in the air.

Describe the process of preparing for battle.

I
take what I get from them at first glance first…write the surface jokes,
things I already know. Get the easy ones out of the way. Then I’ll listen to
some podcasts, get a feel for what makes them tick. Then I wrote the deeper
cuts and see what connects. If I can connect the deep stuff and the surface
stuff, great. I just try to connect as many dots as I can. See how far I can
get away from the obvious and still bring it back to a simple, hard, punch.

Who are your favorite people to watch on nights where you’re not battling?

Probably
you Pat Barker. You can really see the stitchwork on your jokes. Like “man
that’s some beautiful threading,” and I like long jokes if it can get back
in time. I like information. And of course Earl is one of the best one liner
Henny Youngman types I’ve ever been around.

What was your favorite Wave moment?

Probably
when I got that dig in on Tony Hinchcliffe. Coach Tea was playing “In love
with the coke” or whatever that song is… Wave is going crazy and Jamar
is jumping on my back and he whispers in my ear, “drop the fuckin mic man.
Drop the mic!” So I did.

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You decide to retire, but not before doing three more battles. Who are the opponents?

Keith
Carey, Earl Skakel, and Mike Lawrence.

If you could witness a Roast Battle between any two comics ever, who would you pick?

Louis
CK and Bill Cosby.

Should
any topic be off limits?

I
don’t know the answer. The comedian in me says no, but there is another part
that does like human decency. I had trouble with jokes about my brother dying
at first. I got over it because I know he wouldn’t care, but I try to give
battlers a safe topic or two if they need it. It is supposed to be fun.

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