by Pat Barker
In the chaotic world of Roast Battle, Toby Muresianu is a silent assassin. As The Wave and Coach Tea take turns trying to outdo each other’s insanity, Muresianu waits quietly, waiting for his opportunity to strike. Armed with a dry, matter-of-fact style, Muresianu delivers some of the smartest jokes in the entire league. When he was matched up with Keith Carey in February, it seemed like a foregone conclusion to some that Carey would walk away victorious. That’s not the way he saw it. After landing a barrage of haymakers, Toby left with a convincing victory that catapulted him into the Top Ten. Tomorrow night, he returns to the Belly Room to go against Doug Fager, but not before talking to VerbalViolence.TV.
Why do you battle?
I think I got into comedy because I kept thinking of the perfect rebuttal I should have said or the best way to break someone’s balls, so this feels like a return to that. Also, in an age of people watching what they say, it feels great to cut loose and let the venom out. When someone has a really good joke about you, it’s really fun and weirdly flattering as well.
What’s your favorite battle that you’ve ever been a part of?
It’s hard to choose between my battles with Keith Carey and Pat Barker. They’re two heavyweights in every sense of the word. I might say the one with Pat because it went to overtime and I think it was the first battle where I felt like I became part of the battling community.
What is the greatest joke anyone has used against you?
“Toby doesn’t get women wet, he bores their pussies to tears.” – Keith Carey
What is the most underappreciated joke you’ve ever told? One that didn’t work nearly as well as you expected.
"Leah [Kayajanian]’s autistic brother shot himself. But you would too if you could draw her face from memory.”
Who are your favorite people to watch on nights where you’re not battling?
That’s a tough call, there are so many. Mike Lawrence is a great judge. Jamar Neighbors and Jeremiah Watkins I always look forward to seeing. Earl, Guy Branum, Leah Kayajanian, The Saudi Prince…
What was your favorite Wave moment?
Jeremiah spitting in a toilet plunger and Omid drinking it. It is seared into my memory forever.
You decide to retire, but not before doing three more battles. Who are the opponents?
In the community:
Erik Marino or Earl Skakel
If you could witness a Roast Battle between any two comics ever, who would you pick?
Rell Battle vs. Brian Moses.
Honorable mentions: Earl Skakel vs. Erik Marino, Tony Hinchcliffe vs. Jeff Ross, Hannibal Buress vs. Bill Cosby
Describe your process of preparing for battle.
I write a ton of jokes. I do thought webs, decide the points I want to hit, and write write write. After I have written a lot of jokes I send them out to a couple comics I know who battle to get a rough sense of which ones are good.
I run them by people one on one at shows, and if there are angles I want to hit for which I’ve eliminated all jokes, I try to write more of them.
When I have it down to about 20 or so I start hitting mics to gauge what works best in front of an audience. Though open mic crowds don’t always respond like the Roast Battle crowd, it also helps me memorize jokes and decide on the order.
Should anything be off-limits in the Roast Battle?
The ones they ask you specifically not to mention (usually a relative or an ex or something). It’s hard to think of anything else that should totally be off limits because there’s always an exception. The fact that a topic is ordinarily “off limits” can make it funnier.
Generally speaking, I think jokes should be rooted in truth and primarily about or tied to the person you’re battling rather than just about a relative, partner, etc. But I reserve the right to violate both of those rules if a joke is funny enough.