by Pat Barker
Jeff Sewing’s Roast Battle debut confused the hell out of
me. He debuted against established vet Leah Kayajanian in an undercard. What?
This was before Leah established herself as the number one overall battler and
a stone cold killer by running the table in the tournament, but still. She was
a proven commodity who had won main events convincingly, so to see her
seemingly take a step back and battle a rookie didn’t make sense. Then
the battle started, and I instantly got it. She knew what I didn’t – that Jeff
was going to be really fucking good at this and was fully capable of beating
her. And that’s what he did, setting the room on fire several times en route to
a victory. Since then he’s battled two more times, and both times delivered
similar performances. Despite three fantastic battles and an undefeated record with two wins and one tie,
Jeff has largely managed to fly under the radar. That will all change tomorrow
when he has his first main event battle against Ramsey Badawi.
VerbalViolence.TV caught up with Jeff before the battle to ask him a few
Why do you battle?
Because there’s nothing like it. That room on Tuesday nights
is unmatched. The crowd is deafening when a joke hits and pin drop silent when
it doesn’t. It’s as fair as comedy gets. Better still, I’ve been lucky enough
that all three battles were with friends so it’s a chance for you and a friend
to put on a great show which is all that matters. Same thing with the battle
with Ramsey coming up. It’ll be just as much fun to hear him say mean shit
about me as it will be for me to talk shit about him. When you can say rotten
stuff to someone and make them laugh about it, it’s the best laugh you get. No
other show has that.
What is your favorite battle that you’ve ever been a
My first battle with Leah Kayajanian will probably always be
my favorite one. Leah’s an incredible comic and a better friend. I was as
nervous as I’ve ever been and being able to do my first one with someone who is
an absolute beast and such a good friend helped me do as well as I did. It
calmed me down a lot to know that if I ate shit the show would at least be good
because she would’ve slaughtered me and who doesn’t want to see a guy like me
get destroyed. It ended up that I won and I’ll always want to win, but a good
show for the crowd is the most important thing for me and we definitely did
that. Same thing with the Jonathan Rowell battle. We tied, but the way we got
the crowd going made the outcome irrelevant to me. I don’t think anything
will match how cool it felt to hear the room explode for a joke I wrote the
first time it happened.
What is the greatest joke anyone has used against you?
“You look like you pay hookers to feed you pasta.”
– Jonathan Rowell
What is the most underappreciated joke you’ve ever
told? One that didn’t work nearly as well as you expected.
“As a long time smoker, I can’t tell you how great it’s gonna
feel to smoke this fag indoors.” – against Jonathan Rowell
I think it
deserved what it got which was nothing. It was the only joke between the two of
us that didn’t hit. But I was REAL confident in that joke. Embarrassingly so.
When I look back though, it really never landed that well outside of the first
time I ran it and I got lucky that we went one more joke.
Describe your process of preparing for battle.
I write a bunch of jokes and bounce them off a couple people and then run them where I can. If I don’t know the person well I’ll meet and trade dirt with them which can help the battle and I’m all for that. Then I’ll tell a bunch of people that I’m fucked which will be true someday.
Who are your favorite people to watch on nights where
you’re not battling?
Probably Earl Skakel. This is the hardest question because there’s so
many elements that add up to make this monster of a show. Josh Meyrowitz cracks
me up every time, the Wave is hysterical, and Brian Moses is the best host of
anything I’ve seen. But for me when Earl is on at the Hater’s table, it takes
something that’s already amazing and pushes it further.
What was your favorite Wave moment?
After Leah and I battled Jamar Neighbors came out with a
pitcher of water and dumped it on himself which I know he’s done before but
when you’re right up there you just cry laughing.
You decide to retire, but not before doing three more
battles. Who are the opponents?
Damn. I don’t know. I’d probably want to get good enough to
start going after people in the top 10. So I guess any two of those and I would
bet that if it’s allowed the third one in the top 10 would be a rematch with
Leah at some point down the road.
If you could witness a Roast Battle between any two
comics ever, who would you pick?
I’d want to see Joe Dosch vs. Jonathan Rowell in a main
event. Joe’s an established killer and I think people going to be afraid of
battling Jon soon.
Should anything be off-limits in the Roast Battle?
No. There’s certain things I won’t say or go after because I don’t know how to make them funny. But there’s plenty of great battlers who have said some of the raunchiest shit I’ve ever heard and nailed it. It’s part of what makes the show so great.