by Dan Nolan, photos by Troy Conrad

With a shortened pre-show lineup and sans our two regular musical acts, the battle chants begin early and the VIP section quickly floods with our top-notch panel of judges.

Carmen Morales, A nine-year comedy veteran takes to the stage. An accomplished standup – TV credits and all – she still reads as nervous in the pre-battle banter, a testament to the fact that Roast Battle very truly is it’s own beast. John Michael Bond seems a bit more confident as the introductions are made and we’re abruptly off to the bell.

“John Michael Bond is a blogger for a living, he’s been raped and molested and he’s mediocre at comedy. He’s more of a female comic than I could ever be.”

“That hurts coming from Dough Stanhope. Someone once asked me what two words I would use to describe Carmen. Those two words would be “wet,” and “back,” and I want to be careful- I’m not using the racial slur, I’m just describing how sweaty she is all the time.”

“This coming from a dude who looks like he makes really cool mixtapes for the guys that fuck his wife.”

“Carmen, that was incredibly cruel. Especially coming from a Florida road hack. If your act was any clubbier, cops would use it to beat black men to death.”

At the moment of Bond’s punchline there’s an abrupt commotion from the VIP section that drains any reaction he might have gotten from his joke. He turns to the crowd.

“What happened?”

“Jeff Ross fell.” – Everyone

The Roastmaster General – arriving to the dais a few minutes behind schedule – picks himself up from a loud tumble into the VIP seating area, proceeds to dust himself off and continues over to his seat. John Michael Bond stays in the pocket and pitches an off-the-cuff quip:

“I thought the fall from grace was season 3.”

The crowd loves it, and – despite a strong start – the energy seems to be moving away from Carmen Morales before she fires off her final joke.

“John Michael Bond is so pale I can still see the load his uncle left inside of him.”

With that the crowd erupts and the ball seems handily back in Carmen’s court. John Michael digs in for one last shot.

“We’ve both been raped, but for her it was like a sex donation. Carmen is a beautiful lady, and usually with these things the guy just says the chick is a whore but she doesn’t fuck enough for me to say that honestly. Carmen uses the pull out method. That’s where at the last possible second, her date cancels on her. And that’s all.”

The joke lands at the end, just not as impactfully as Carmen’s closer, and the crowd vote is unanimous in her favor.

Up next, Joe Eurell – the first of the evening’s three wheelchair-bound battlers – is brought up to the stage. He brings with him a handler who carries subtitles of Joe’s jokes printed on computer paper. Sarah enters and after a brief introduction leads out the round.

“The only acting job Joe could ever get is being an extra in chromosome.”

“Sarah claims to train horses, but really she just lets horses run a train on her.”

“Joe’s like a broken record. Except a broken record can skip.”

“Unlike Sarah I can’t bend my knees, which explains why she gets booked more than I do.”

“Joe and I both have drug-using parents. At least mine took a break during the pregnancy.”

“Sarah got a ‘Freebird’ tattoo to honor her father, because that was their safe word.”

With the crowd reaction too close to call, overtime is requested immediately. Joe is chosen to open the extra round.

“Sarah bleaches her hair almost as much as her asshole.”

“Joe’s from the South. He’s a lot like it except he won’t rise again.”

While both battlers brought solid jokes, Joe’s attempt at overcoming the issue of being hard to understand by printing out cue cards for the audience (dubbed HandiCaptions™ by Golden Pony Tony Hinchcliffe) is decided – by the judges’ input – to have been a miscalculation and an unnecessary distraction that may have arguably kept him from clinching the match. The audience vote is too close to call, these two earn a draw, and we’re off to our next bout.

Lonnie Johnson steps to the stage with an order of magnitude less swagger than in previous performances. After his pre-bell quip connects, Kevin McNamara is brought up with stoic confidence, returning to the ring after a dominant win over Darran Davis not too long ago. Kevin volunteers Lonnie to start the round.

“People don’t know this but Kevin is almost 40 year old and still struggling in Hollywood. I don’t know what’s gonna die first: your dreams, or your prostate.”

“Probably that joke. Lonnie and Katie got married on a Friday, which means Katie’s family had two black Fridays that year.”

“Kevin once opened for Slipknot. But he never met his dad because his mom’s legs opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

“Thank you, Tiger Woods’ faggy stand-in. Lonnie never got picked at sports. And that makes sense because he never would’ve gotten picked at slave auctions.”

Theo Von opts to issue a correction:

“I dunno about that. You gotta have a library slave.”

After an enormous pop, the focus moves back to Lonnie who’s having trouble gaining ground for the battle.

“Kevin looks like he would star in a poof porn, but it would be called White Men Can’t Fuck.”

“Lonnie and his wife are really into roleplay. Their favorite is called ‘Eric Garner.’ That’s where she gets on top and he screams ‘I can’t breathe.’”

There’s an audible gasp as Lonnie’s last joke falls flat, and Kevin connects with his closer. After a promising few months in which Lonnie Johnson seemed set on a dominant streak, poised to continue moving him up the ranks as the show’s most accomplished black battler, the crowd’s bloodthirst for racism proves too much to overcome in his first clash with a regular old white guy. Kevin McNamara is handily awarded the win in a second straight victory over black people.

Rachel Mac is called to the stage. With a reserved, low-key stage presence, she seems focused on the task at hand: to make fun of a lady with no feet. Danielle Perez with some assistance getting her wheelchair on stage, is played up to Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” as the audience goes apeshit at Coach Tea’s choice. 

Danielle takes the bullet, volunteering for the first joke.

“Rachel likes to claim she’s fucked a 10, which is s believable as me walking on water.”

“Danielle has lost her legs. Tragically, the rest of her is still with us.”

“Rachel looks and sounds like taking out her tampon feels.”

There’s a noticeable deficit in the reaction to Danielle’s tampon joke, and Rachel pounces on the weakness.

“These jokes are about as fixable as your legs. Men like Danielle for 2 reasons. Her easy pussy and her Fastpass at Disneyland.”

It’s a flawless double-tap and Danielle has a lot of ground to make up.

“It’s true, Rachel, I stay getting fucked. But at least I don’t not get fucked by my husband because I’m too busy using my wooden dildo.”

With stumbles on the wording and a punchline that holds up to zero scrutiny, the crowd is quietly baffled at Danielle’s closer. She opts for a tag against the audience’s better judgment:

”She doesn’t cum so much as she just sprays out sawdust.”

More than one person can be heard wondering aloud what that means as Rachel Mac seeks to close the round solidly.

“Danielle, you look like Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’ swallowed a gay pride parade.”

There’s a middling response, but still more than enough to put her over the top, even as Danielle Perez connects a solid rebuttal after the bell:

“And you look like you masturbate to books on tape.”

Danielle gets a lot of love, but Rachel Mac stays a darling of the crowd and takes another solid win walking away with an impressive 2-1 record.

Atlanta “Road to Roast Battle” competitor Jasmin Leigh is called up first for the next undercard, against the 2-0 Leah Lamarr. In lieu of a pre-battle joke, Jasmin instead opts to accuse Leah of taking jokes from other comedians – a taboo in this joke-writing competition for which the first rule is “original material only.” Before the charge can even be addressed, there’s a sudden distraction.

Dave fucking Chappelle descends on the judges’ stand amidst an abrupt burst of energy from the crowd. He turns his attention to the Wave.

“Y’all look like extras in Roots.”

Leah jumps in while the crowd is still overwhelmed by the presence of Dave Chappelle.

“Jasmin looks like Cunta Kinte”

With the judges still bantering amongst themselves no one even notices the attempt, while Jasmin Leigh jumps in off mic, to no one other than Leah.

“No one laughed, bitch.”

The awkward energy escalates and the whole room slides off center even as the full attention of the audience is focused nowhere other than Netflix’s $60 million man, Dave Chappelle. Moses calls the room to order and a pre-emptively embittered Jasmin Leigh goes first at the bell.

“Leah didn’t place in Ms. Universe. But she got the gold in ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’”

“Bitch, I’m a ten. You’re a section 8.”

"Whoever writes your jokes has done a great job.”

“I saw you write a text to someone asking for a joke.”

“Yeah, right.”

While the intensity of Roast Battle has led to a number of tense exchanges in the past, this is among the show’s most awkward. Rarely does the hatred seem so personal. Only one joke in, and the match is unraveling quickly. Leah stays poised through it all and continues with the comedy.

“Jasmin’s an actress. You can see her in the music video for TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ as the AIDS.”

Coach Tea, with the fastest fingers in the fucking game, gets to the 90’s hit right on time. Jasmin Leigh doesn’t seem phased despite being overwhelmed by vastly superior joke-writing.

“You have sex with everyone your partner has, which means that Leah’s fucked half the female comics in this room.”

The sentence is neither a roast, nor a joke, nor is it even particularly about Leah, but rather a declarative statement about Jay Light being awesome. It is met with appropriate silence.

“Jasmin likes fucking girls on their periods because it combines the two things she was born to do. Eat pussy and pick cotton.”

“Leah’s career is going good. She just signed a deal for a show. Cunts In Cars Getting Coke.”

“Jasmin’s so broke, she can only get lynched at The Dollar Tree.”

Leah blows the roof off the place and takes a decisive crowd win. The bickering continues unabated and Jasmin attempts to rebuff the post-fight hug until she’s summoned back to the stage by Moses. It’s an underwhelming end to an unnecessarily tense battle that steals the show more with controversy than comedy. Leah is unanimously praised by the judges – in particular, Chappelle – while Jasmin is left to lick her wounds with at least the consolation of a coveted TV credit.

Forced to follow that are two of our finest female competitors with Heather Marulli facing off against Roast Battle’s now-de facto female leader Anna Valenzuela. With the audience mood still dampened by the previous battle, the pre-fight catiness comes off far less playful than intended and the audience reaction seems to indicate an uphill battle. Heather and Anna both volunteer to lead the sole round before the decision by Jeff Ross goes to Heather. As soon of the barbs begin flying, though, the bad taste is quickly washed away by two of our best.

“Anna is 34. She’s 8 years older than her current boyfriend, and 8 years younger than her current face.”

“I am 34 years old. If you want to know how old Heather is, just count the rings around her neck.”

“I am a bigger woman, but you’re just mad you can’t take some of the fat from my ass and use it to fill your wrinkles.”

With a rare misstep by Coach Tea, a misplaced sound effect muddles the punchline of Heather’s rebuttal, and in a power move Anna denies her attempt to follow up with a joke, taking an early command of the round.

“It’s a pleasure to battle the woman with the largest collection of one-piece bathing suits in the world.”

“Anna has so many dead boyfriends that she calls her pussy the trimmed reaper.”

Heather’s back in business with a solid blow, and it’s still anyone’s game.

“Guys, you gotta forgive Heather, she gets defensive up here. And I understand. She’s been chasing off angry villagers for years.”

“Anna embraces her sexuality. That’s why she walks around with a dildo strapped to the middle of her face.”

“Jeff Ross once said Heather would be a huge star. And judging by her mass and density, she already is.”

At the round’s close there doesn’t appear to be a decisive victor as Dave Chappelle declares a draw and the crowd clamors for an additional joke. The mood on stage is tense, maybe because Heather consistently broke one of the cardinal rules of Roast Battle – no physical contact – by touching Anna over and over again. As Anna opens this time.

“Guys, give it up for the lead singer of Fleetwood Big Mac. Heather’s ex boyfriend almost choked her. But then she cleared her throat and spit him out.”

“I am big, but at least I give men something to hold onto. Other than being with their mommy.”

Heather’s joke hits the ground with a thud and Anna’s hand is raised once more, continuing her seemingly endless dominant streak.

Closing the evening out is another main-event caliber one-rounder between two more Comedy Central competitors, with #1 draft-pick Keith Carey bringing the heat against the last of our three wheelchair-bound battlers, Greg Roque. Greg volunteers to go first.

“Keith once said he wanted to suck my dick, but I don’t believe him. When was the last time you saw a vegetable in his mouth?”

“It’s true I’m overweight. My body-type is ‘more to love.’ Greg’s body-type is ‘that scene in the Muppet Movie where Kermit the Frog rides a bike.’”

“Keith’s making fun of me for having a broken neck, but at least I have one. It looks like you had your neck removed so food can get to your stomach faster.”

“Greg counts cards in Vegas. Let me save you some time. You’re a crippled Mexican in Trump’s America. Every deck is stacked against you.”

“Keith really hates disabled people because once he loses a leg to diabetes, he’ll be fighting me for the best parking spots.”

“In all seriousness, Greg broke his neck in a wrestling accident, and he could’ve gone pro, so I wanna give him a taste of the WWE career he missed out on:

In this corner, weighing in at a crushing disappointment to his family… standing tall at one point but never again… the spinal disorder from south of the border: Dwayne ‘The Can’t Walk’ Johnson!”

The closer from Keith takes a risky break from format that pays off with several big-time laugh breaks. Both battlers present a flawless round that leaves the judges incapable of coming to a decision, and we’re once again forced into overtime. Keith is tapped to lead the round.

“Greg doesn’t wanna be remembered for his disability. And he won’t because we’ll all forget him in 6 months when he drowns in a bath tub.”

“Keith was tired of getting molested. So he grew out his stomach so his stepdad couldn’t find his dick again.”

After a protracted round of banter between the judges who still struggle to find a consensus, Greg is declared the winner in a split decision resulting mostly in cheers, as well as a lengthy post-battle filibuster by Tony Hinchcliffe who declares the match for Keith in protest.

The evening had it all: three wheelchairs, two faceplants, a nearly-physical catfight, multiple top-tier opponents in TV-quality undercards, and a surprise appearance by one of the greatest of all time, Dave Chappelle. What the fuck more could you ask for?

Follow @RoastBattle on Twitter for all the latest updates, check out our Instagram and Facebook pages for the latest pictures from the impeccable Troy Conrad, and watch live on Periscope at 11 PM PST every Tuesday if you can’t catch the verbal violence in person. 

If you live in Los Angeles, get your tickets now to see the upcoming tapings of Roast Battle II: War of the Words, which will take place at the old House of Blues – right across the street from the Comedy Store – on January 20th, 22nd, 24th, and 29th. Use promo code “thecomedystore” to reserve your seat.

Thank you for reading, and thanks as always to our sponsor SpeedWeed.

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