Last night provided more proof why Roast Battle really is the best show in town. Nearly two years in, it remains unpredictably raw, funny in a way that cuts straight to the bone like a fillet knife. Every performer came at the top of their game, from the judges, to the All-Chicano Wave, to the infamous House Hater, and on to Brian Moses, the unflappable ringmaster of this circus. The show would be nothing without them, all tied together by the dynamic soundscape provided by Coach Tea.
But the battlers are the real stars. No-name comics like the ones the Battle frequently showcases are the best kind of performers for this show. They have nothing to lose. If they know what’s good for them, they pull out all the stops, ready to show off their skills at writing the cruelest jokes. We’re ramping up for a big spring at the Roast Battle, and tonight’s show was the perfect first course before we dive into meatier battles at the end of the month.
Our first undercard was a thinly veiled attempt at trying to make roasting a Special Olympics event. Keith Reza and Michael James Benson slugged it out in a battle not just wits, but also of Asperger’s vs. cerebral palsy.
"Is St. Jude’s sponsoring this part?“ – the House Hater
MJB came galloping out of the gate slinging Asperger’s quips without giving Keith a chance to respond, but Keith had some solid jokes lined up ready to knock MJB and his palsied arm for a loop.
"Michael just had an audition for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but he didn’t get it because he can’t ring the bell!” – Keith Reza
“Keith is so bad with women, blow up dolls have filed sexual harassment charges against him.” -Michael James Benson
“You look like a life coach for child molesters!” -Michael James Benson
“Growing up, when Michael had a boner, he’d go, ‘Mom, I have a boner,’ and she’d say ‘It’s your dad’s turn!’” – Keith Reza
In the end, Keith “The Razor” Reza took down his physically-challenged foe, clearing the stage for our next undercard: Danny Jolles and Rob O’Reilly.
Danny seemed skittish from the start, letting everyone know how much he hated being in the Roast Battle ring before copping to the fact that he was mostly doing it because Rob was such a good friend. Rob, a producer for Ridiculousness, looked poised and prepared. But then these two newbie battlers opened their mouths and the storylines began to shift.
“Rob is on stage as often as Bill Cosby rapes a woman, which is way too often.” – Danny Jolles
“You and your girlfriend are attached at the hip. Not only do you look like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, you can’t do anything without your bitch.” – Danny Jolles
“Many people consider you to be the next Woody Allen of sex crimes.” – Rob O’Reilly
“Rob, you remind me of Tom Hanks. When I think of you, I don’t think of your stand-up comedy career…I just picture you alone on an island with no friends.” – Danny Jolles
After a close call on the initial vote, Danny eked out the victory on a recount, though Tony Hinchcliffe said the round really belonged to Coach Tea for his spot-on sound cue after Rob’s DJ joke.
After Pat Regan cleansed our palates with his mighty hilarious musical skills, the main event was upon us: Josh Waldron vs. Doug Fager.
Battles like this prove just how much better roast jokes become when you’re friends with your opponent. Doug and Josh pulled no punches, attacking each other’s looks, friends, family members, and jokes. The night started off with this exchange:
“Doug has a beard, loves to wear plaid, and his jokes are terrible. He’s a lumberhack!” – Josh Waldron
“I was gonna make fun of your beard, but I can’t see her in the audience!” – Doug Fager
Things only escalated from there. Doug took the first round handily, winning on a final line that got the All-Chicano Wave on their pies. Things almost got derailed when an admittedly-high Theo Von declared the round a tie, but the Sklar Brothers got everything back on the right track.
Doug led off in round two with a pair of jokes about Josh’s tattoos:
“Josh has a tattoo of a phoenix on his back. Even your tattoos are flaming!”
“You’re so AIDS-ridden your phoenix rose from the Arthur Ashes!”
Josh fired back with two of his own zingers:
“Doug’s mom was a nurse and his dad was postman, but together they still couldn’t deliver a male!”
“One time, Doug said he has a 70% close rate with women. What he didn’t say was 100% of that 70% was date rape!”
However, Josh’s second round gave way to a botched JonBenet Ramsey joke at the very end, threatening to end the battle early. But the judges saw Josh’s passion despite his unfortunate final line:
“It’s like you ran the kickoff for a touchdown and have been losing yardage ever since.” -The Sklar Brothers
Ultimately, they decided it was best to give Josh the third round he had so clearly prepared for. Adam chose Josh to kick off the proceedings for the final bout of the match. He steeled himself.
Josh and Doug tossed out only their hottest material for the haymaker round:
“Josh is like your grandma’s wedding dress: off-white, cum-stained, and been in the closet for years.” -Doug Fager
“Doug runs a comedy show called Kill Crush. If you wanted to name a show after something you never do on stage, you should have just called it Succeed!” – Josh Waldron
“Josh is white, Native American, and Mexican. The immigration of your people is ruining the land your people took from your people!” -Doug Fager
Every single one of Doug’s jokes landed, while Josh unfortunately had one blank in the magazine. The judges and crowd gave the battle to Doug. Josh fought hard, but in the end, the beard – and the jokes behind it – prevailed.
I didn’t pick any winners last night. I think that’s enough of a sign for me to stick to battling.
I’ll see you guys next week when I take on Stuart Thompson.
Judge’s Joke of the Night: “Doug’s mom was a nurse and his dad was postman, but together they still couldn’t deliver a male!” – Josh Waldron, Main Event Round 2
Writer’s Joke of the Night: “Josh is metrosexual, and by that he means he will suck dick for bus fare.” – Doug Fager, Main Event Round 1
Honorable Mention: “Rob, you remind me of Tom Hanks. When I think of you, I don’t think of your stand-up comedy career…I just picture you alone on an island with no friends.” – Danny Jolles, Undercard
photos by Troy Conrad