by Keith Carey, photos by Troy Conrad

Roast Battle fever is at full tilt as the crowds fill in,
packing every inch of the Belly Room and leaving many fans stranded outside.
New audiences have been flocking to the show in larger and larger numbers since
the show returned to Comedy Central a couple of weeks ago, and between the long
lines and the Roast Battle logo splashed over the adjacent House of Blues, home
of this month’s tournament, this can only be expected to increase in the next
few weeks.

The battles kick off with David Nieker taking a narrow loss
to Julian Fernandez!

“This is a battle between two villains from ‘Breaking
Bad.’” – Mike Lawrence

David lumbers to the stage to the “Game of Thrones” theme
song, prompting a rolling chant of “HOLD THE DOOR! HOLD THE DOOR!” Moses
forgets Julian’s record, making him sheepishly remind the room that he’s 0-2
before he gets on the mic. David takes the lead as the battle begins:

“Julian was on the TV show ‘First Impressions.’ Everyone’s
first impression was that he had Down’s Syndrome.”

“I like that you talk about how I look when you look like
you ate the other two members of ZZ Top.”

“Julian told me his last girlfriend wouldn’t let him go down
on her. Look at those cheeks, she probably couldn’t spread her legs wide enough.”

“David’s been having trouble finding his dream girl. It’s
the first time he’s forgotten where he buried her.”

“Julian, he’s an impression comic. His best impression?
Squirrel. Fall comes to your pants and he stuffs his nuts in your…no, your nuts
in his cheeks.”

“David, um…David’s website is called, uh, ‘The Internet
Wasted My Time.’ Which is normally what comedy clubs call his comedy.”

“Edward James Almost had that joke, man.” – Moses

The first two jokes are neck and neck, with both battlers
getting sizable pops from the crowd. However, they both disastrously flub their
last jokes. Still, these two battlers both show improvement from their last
time in the ring, and it’s good to see. 

In the end, Julian gets a tiny sliver
more love from the audience in the judging, and walks away with a victory.

Next up, Zahra Ali pops her cherry with a victory against BJ
Courchaine.

Zahra takes the stage to some sensual slow jams that seem to
confuse and tickle Moses. Perhaps an odd musical choice, or maybe Coach Tea is
doing some subliminal flirting from the 1’s and 2’s. As BJ enters, those who
remember his previous clash with the judges tense up a little, anticipating a
repeat of that fiasco. However BJ is cool, banters well, and is nearly charming
as the bell rings.

“Most people don’t know this, but BJ has a kid. Most kids want
to be an astronaut when they grow up. BJ’s kid just wants to be fatherless.”

“Zahra hosts a show at a bar called Nirvana which is
appropriate because after watching her perform there you want to go home and
blow your brains out. You’re the Courtney Love of stand-up comedy.”

“BJ’s parents named him BJ. Because that’s what he should
have been.”

“If you probably knew what a BJ was you’d probably have a
kid. That’s how it starts.”

“BJ, listen to me. Your kid is so ugly, he should be the
poster-child for abstinence.”

“Zahra, if I win tonight, don’t worry about it. As a Muslim
woman, you should probably get used to the feeling of being beaten by a man.”

“Dude, you got your fuckin’ ass kicked, you face paint-less
Juggalo. She cut off your clit.” – Mike Lawrence, pulling zero punches

Mike is correct. BJ gets absolutely massacred by Zahra,
netting her a definitive win in her Roast Battle debut.

We take a brief break from the battles for Jeff Ross and
Moses to film a special announcement of the top 16 battlers who will be
participating in the 4-day tournament extravaganza, airing on Comedy Central
from 1/26-1/29. You wanna know who got in? Then watch the LA Regionals on Sunday, motherfucker!

After this momentous announcement, Shannon Leigh steps up to
the undefeated Dave Neal. 

Shannon and Moses banter about Tampa and its status as the
strip club capital of the world. When Dave Neal and his luscious hair bound to
the stage, the room is blown away by Haiti’s knowledge of the lyrics to
Nickelback songs.

“That’s how shitty of a country Haiti is, they send them
Nickelback records.” – Moses

“Dave has two brothers named Jack and Jameson, which is
ironic because he’s the only brother who looks like he has fetal alcohol
syndrome.”

“Shannon’s from Philly. Her name for her pussy is
Cheesesteak Factory.”

“Dave, your hair has more layers than that joke. Dave looks
like the kind of guy who pulls his own hair during fucking.”

“Those aren’t dimples on Shannon’s face, just indentations
from all the cum shots she’s taken.”

“So Dave’s father died after meeting him once. It was the
one time in Dave’s life where he actually knew what it felt like to kill.”

“Shannon was invited into the Funny Women Festival. The only
thing easier to get into is Shannon’s vagina.”

“Is that where the festival is?” – Earl Skakel

The battle is pretty middle-of-the-road, although the energy
is kept up by some judge riffs and the arrival of a very stoned Bert Kreischer,
who literally laughs himself to tears over the concept of a “Funny Women
Festival.” In the end, the crowd awards the win to Shannon, ending Dave’s
winning streak.

As we hit the halfway point, Zach Stein takes an L to Vikram
Bhoyrul!

 “If you’re here, who’s running the Kwik-E-Mart?” – Mike
Lawrence

“It’s okay, Pi, we love you.” – Moses

Vikram fails to make much of an impression as he takes the
stage, but Zach Stein is overshadowed by both his own terrible fashion sense
and the clearly visible outline of a dauntingly large penis in his pants. 

The
Wave also expands, now containing Jeff Ross, myself, Anna Valenzuela, and
pretty much the whole sideline bench.

“Vikram, that’s a great mustache man. You look like Burnt
Reynolds.”

“Zach-“

“I’m not done. I thought Indians were supposed to be smart.
You’re trying to make it in show biz but you can’t even figure out making a
name sound white.”

“Zach looks like the kid from ‘A Christmas Story’ if he grew
up to be a gay nightclub promoter.”

“That’s great, coming from a guy who looks like Cumhog
Millionaire. Vikram’s favorite quote is from fellow Injun Mahatma Gandhi. ‘An
eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’ Because the whole world blind is
Vikram’s only chance of fucking outside of his race.”

“Zach is recently sober in the past few months, which sucks
because getting alcohol poisoning in the patio downstairs is the only time
you’d kill at the Comedy Store.”

“Vikram was actually present at the Boston Marathon
terrorist attack, which he actually commemorates in his stand-up. He doesn’t
have a joke about, but a brown guy bombs and nobody makes it to the end.”

“Zach is actually a lot like Eminem from the movie 8 Mile.
He’s from that shithole Detroit, and Brittany Murphy is exactly his type; she
can’t move or say no.”

“Both guys are very odd-looking, and that’s coming from a
man wearing fashionable knuckle gloves.” – Big Jay Oakerson

“He’s got a big dick, he’s got my vote. I’m rolling with
that.” – Frazier Smith

“I don’t like the guy with the hard-on. Last time you were
up here you had a hard-on too.” – Jeff Ross

“He really likes battling!” – Frank Castillo

The judges have a hard time deciding between the two,
spending most of the time marveling at Zach’s dick and the fact that it is
attached to such a profoundly dorky man. In the end, the audience chooses
Vikram.

Next up, the room fucking goes bananas for Katrina Davis and
Lauren Davis!

“They met at that Funny Women Festival.” – Mike Lawrence

The energy in the room is electric as this battle begins.
Between the tournament announcement, the chaotically expanding Wave, and the
overall quality of the battles and judges, it really feels like a special night
as these two first-timers square off:

“Lauren is boring and white and she struggles with bulimia.
She’s so basic sometimes her food can’t even.”

“Katrina’s one of the most innocent people I’ve ever met but
also one of the darkest. She’s like Wyclef Jean-Benet Ramsey.”

“In addition to being bulimic, Lauren struggles with
alcoholism. The gap between her thighs is almost as big as the one she’s trying
to fill in her soul.”

“Katrina has two tattoos of crayons pointing to her pussy…to
teach kids how to draw and learn the alphabet.”

“Lauren looks like she left her black white priv-FUCK!
Lauren looks like she left her white privilege in the back of some dude’s van.
I just wanted to beat her so she can stop trying to claim me as her one black
friend.”

“Katrina moved to Los Angeles to be closer to her family.
The California Raisins.”

Coach Tea plays “My Girl” after the California Raisin joke,
which leads to a full-on dance number where I learn the hard way that Moses is
a much better host than he is a dancer. LEARN HOW TO TWIRL, BITCH!

“Katrina has tattoos of crayons on her pussy because Crayola
is the name of her sister. I had to hold that in during that whole fucking
dance sequence!”-Mike Lawrence

“I like crayons. I like raisins.”-Frazier Smith, listing
things he’s allowed to use at the old folks home

It’s a split vote. Lauren is a bit more consistent all the
way through, but despite a late-match flub Katrina’s first joke hits about as
hard as any I’ve ever seen in the room. The crowd demands one more joke:

“Katrina and I have a lot in common. We’re both female comedians,
we both have the last name Davis, but I’m the Davis America would care about if
she went missing.”

“Lauren looks like the All Lives Matter hashtag stopped
showering.”

Lauren’s last joke pops harder, securing her victory.
However, both these ladies prove to have serious potential, and the real winner
is the crowd.

The night’s last undercard pits Robbie Goodwin against Jake
Adams, as rising star takes on Star of David.

“I took this fight because it’s good to be humbled
sometimes.” – Jake Adams

Robbie “The SeeSo Kid” Goodwin has been pretty unstoppable
lately, a fact that Jake is well aware of. Jake. Jake’s self-deprecation and
Robbie’s spazzy improvisational riffing pair up very well, and the energy
between these two is loose and friendly as the words start flying:

“Robbie’s dad is American but his mom is from Afghanistan,
which makes Robbie a living reason why America should have pulled out early.”

“Jake’s Jewish and he would have died in the holocaust
because everyone knows he’s hiding in the closet.”

“That’d be cool. Guys are dope. Robbie tries to do comic
impersonations. The closest you’ll come to Robin Williams is if you jerk off
over his grave.”

“Take that, Robin Williams. Way to knock that guy down a
peg. We’re only in his home – anyway…Jake works for @midnight, which is named
after the time he commits all of his rapes. That’s true actually.”

“Speaking of @midnight, I loved your work in ‘Zero Dark
Thirty’ as the dude who got shot.”

“You mean Bin Laden? ‘The dude who got shot?’ That’s what
you know Bin Laden as? ‘THE DUDE WHO GOT SHOT?’ What the fuck? ‘Duh, yeah, that
guy who got shot, what’s-his-name. Obama? I dunno. It was somethin’! That DUDE
who got SHOT in that MOVIE! It was a good movie. It was a reeeeeeeally good
movie. What was his name-‘

Jeff Ross interrupts this bit by “shooting” Robbie in the
head.

“I just got cucked.”

“When it comes to comedy, Robbie’s mantra is ‘YOLO.’ Which
makes sense for his audiences because You’ll Only Laugh Once.”

“You look like the if the Boston Bomber got really into
yachting.”

“This podcast is weird!” – Anna Valenzuela during Robbie’s
filibuster

This battle is a ton of fun. The in-between banter and
off-the-cuffery of Robbie Goodwin makes easy work of the well-intentioned but
ultimately underprepared Jake Adams, and Robbie joins the elite ranks of the
6-0 Club.

The night wraps up with a main-event bloodbath between the
amazing Leah Kayajanian and Jonathan Rowell!

These are two of Los Angeles’ funniest comics, and both have
proven themselves to be super talented battlers. Leah takes the stage to the
familiar strains of the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero”, and I believe she is the only
battler with official theme music. She is joined by “Mexican Twink”/Rick
Glassman stand-in Jonathan Rowell. The battle starts quick: 

“Leah, your eyes are so dead I thought you were wearing your
ovaries on your face.”

“Jonathan is white by appearance, but by blood he’s riddled
with STD’s.”

“Leah likes to hang out with gay guys because she likes to
be the person in the room with the hairiest back.”

“Jonathan’s sister was once shot in the neck. Not to be
outdone, Jon takes shots in every part of his face.”

“Leah, you look like the woman Jesus didn’t let wash his
feet.”

“You look like you’d get bored halfway through stabbing your
parents.”

A tough round of judging, to be sure. Mike praises Jonathan
for his consistency, Frazier ultimately agrees even though he thinks we’re at
Kill Tony, and shockingly, Rick Glassman (Jew) doesn’t know shit about Jesus.
Jonathan heads into Round 2 with the lead.

“Men run from Leah faster than the kids who walk underneath
her bridge.”

“Leah’s best friends with the 6th grade dykes she
coaches in basketball.”

“Leah’s pussy’s so hairy, when she gets her period it looks
like an Aleppo bus bombing.” 

“You look like the world’s cuntiest mime.”

“Jonathan makes being Mexican look like some white people
shit.”

“Jonathan’s ass serves more old men than an Elk’s Lodge.”

Leah comes back from behind with a fire second round.
Jonathan’s “dyke” joke doesn’t connect, although in this writer’s opinion
“Aleppo bus bombing” was the best joke of this battle. Leah takes the judges’
votes and we move into Round 3.

“You’re so broke and gay. You really put the ‘homo’ in
‘Never gonna be a homeowner.’”

“Leah’s dad died from Parkinson’s, which is why she gets
emotional around her vibrator.”

“Jonathan’s so pretentious he does all his fisting with one
pinky out.”

“Leah likes dating Mexican guys because they can dry their
wet backs on her hairy one.”

“Jonathan had gay sex for the first time when he was 15. It
was his queen-cinera.”

“Leah’s nose is so big, that’s where her brother hid the gun
he shot himself with.”

Moses makes a rare move and demands one more joke himself:

“Leah’s so lonely, the last thing she mounted was her
broomstick.”

“Jonathan gets pounded in the ass constantly, but his
butthole is still tighter than his best five minutes.”

Round 3 is FLAWLESS on both sides. Leah’s overtime joke pops
just a bit harder and Leah takes a big win, but the love between these two beautiful
monsters is palpable. Writer/Roast Battle legend Pat Barker leans to me in the
aftermath and declares this the best battle since our triple-overtime death
match in August, and I agree wholeheartedly. The crowd disperses, the chaos
fades, and the Belly Room sits empty, waiting for a potential all-time great
main event next week…

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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