by Dan Nolan
With just shy of a month to go until Roast Battle debuts on Comedy Central, and
the art of competitive roasting takes the world by storm, there are only a few
weeks left to say you saw it first. This evening’s five-fight program is
certain not to disappoint either newcomers or the die-hards.
Our judges tonight are a cavalcade of Calvin Klein-looking motherfuckers whose varied comedy stylings will work well to maintain the show’s frantic, edgy energy. Let’s meet ‘em!
Roast Battle first timer Owen Benjamin has countless reality
TV credits, so he should have no issues with the sometimes dangerously unscripted
antics of the Belly Room Tuesday nights, and has also made standup appearances
on a long list of late night talk shows including the Tonight Show and has his
own Comedy Central half hour. His Wikipedia page devotes a small section to
mentioning that he can be seen in the deleted scenes of the 2007′s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and who is
anyone to say that the Roast Report should have higher journalistic standards
than the world’s encyclopedia? Alongside Owen is Theo Von, formerly of MTV’s Road Rules, now a nationally touring headliner with his own Netflix special who just
opened for Louis CK when he ran his new hour in the Comedy Store’s Main Room a few weeks back.
Julian McCullough returns for his first time back as a judge since the end of
last summer. He’s got a Comedy Central half-hour and has notched numerous
appearances on Chelsea Lately and MTV’s Guy Code. Rounding things out on the panel is
Andrew Santino, another Roast Battle favorite,
and whose countless credits include Conan, Arrested Development, The Office,
and a whole lot more. These four horsemen will be our tour guides through the apocalypse of glee that we’ve got in store for you tonight.
Our first undercard features newcomers Hank Murray (0-0, Unranked) and James Welsh (0-0, Unranked) in a
double virgin sacrifice!
These guys’ faces are so fresh, they don’t even appear in my Facebook
search with any mutual friends, and so it seems pictures are unavailable. But
what would a night at Roast Battle be without some fresh blood? Of all the
biggest comedy shows in Los Angeles, Roast Battle is the only one that’s open
to nearly anyone, and it’s a great showcase for anyone looking to get their
name out into the world. Or at least the LA open mic community. The catch,
simply, is that what happens to that name may vary based on their performance.
Sometimes a star is born and sometimes one simply implodes upon itself in a
beautiful display of color and fury, swallowing all around it. Or sometimes the
battle is just sort of okay, and we all quickly move on.
Next up in the undercards, Rachel Mac (0-0, Unranked), the Queen of Eastside comedy, makes her Roast Battle debut against Matt
LeGrande (1-0, Unranked), who’s just a queen of Eastside comedy. He makes his triumphant return after an absolutely fire debut battle.
These two are friends, and that usually makes for a fun time
in the Roast Battle ring. Intimacy can mean plenty of
inside info, the energy is looser, and the jokes, ironically,
can be meaner when there’s already an established relationship in place to fall
back on. Both battlers host great Eastside open mics (Rachel at the
now-only-periodically-held Lotto Grotto, and Matt at Rafa’s, both in Echo Park),
and both have their own solid stage presence, which helps when you’re standing
toe to toe with someone pitching your best jokes. If there’s anything that can
be learned from Matt’s debut that makes him so likable, it’s that
he completely owns who he is on stage. His opening line to the crowd last
battle was, simply, “What’s up. I’m gay as fuck.”
In our final undercard of the evening, we’ve got the return of Cody Morley (2-5, Unranked) and his highly-punchable face, against the
tie-wearing Texan, “Iron” Al Bahmani (2-2, Unranked)!
Both battlers have a history with the show, both are friends,
and – in the interest of objective journalism – both are returning now for a shot
at redemption after seriously eating a dick their last few turns in the ring.
Al has a likable energy that charmed audiences and made up for the lack of
viciousness in his jokes in early battles, but that charm wore off eventually,
and Al got set on a bit of a streak beginning with his loss to the dreadful Steven
Alan Green. But where Al’s likability has become a liability, Cody Morley has
the exact opposite problem. Roast Battle is one of the few situations in comedy
where you can sell cockiness effectively from the
start, but if you’re not immediately following through with absolutely killer
material, the audience will just turn on you harder. Sometimes it’s
best simply to let your jokes do the talking. For tonight, our best hope is that
both battlers have learned from past missteps, and are ready to make adjustments
and come out swinging. It’s a fight for Roast Battle legitimacy, and we’ll see
who the last man standing will be.
Kicking things up a notch, next we’ve got the first of two
main events this evening with Alex Duong (4-4, #26) facing off against Nick Petrillo (3-1, #37).
This will be a great start to the evening’s second half.
Alex’s history with Roast Battle stretches back farther than most
other top battlers, and he’s fresh off a swift two-round victory against the
previously undefeated Guam Felix. Nick Petrillo is a fresher face to the Roast
Battle ring, but has been cranking out top-notch battles at a prolific pace. However, a loss in his last three-rounder has kept him hovering on the border between
undercard and main event status. You can expect both battlers to bring their
best tonight, and really set the pace before our closing battle.
Topping off the night is a dream matchup between two of the
show’s heaviest heavyweight battlers, with Philadelphia’s Pat Barker (8-3, #7) versus the
O.C.’s own Keith Carey (9-5, #2).
This is set to be an absolute all-time slugfest. It’s hard
to think of anyone who better embodies what Roast Battle is all about than
Keith Carey. He’s an overweight bisexual with Tourette’s who came out of one of
the darkest childhoods one can dream of, only to own it all and persevere with
grace and a razor-sharp wit. Keith has such a presence at Roast Battle
sometimes that you’d think the room had been built around him. He mugs with the Wave, fires shots from the Haters’ table, and – even putting persona aside – his
joke writing on its own is enough to justify his placement above all but
current champ Alex Hooper in the rankings.
But then there’s Pat Barker. Runner up in the RiotLA Roast
Battle Royale, writer for HBO’s “Any Given Wednesday” with Bill Simmons, roast
reporter extraordinaire, and – right along with Keith – an all-time staple of
the Haters’ table with some of the quickest and smartest quips ever uttered on
the show. Pat is coming off consecutive losses, but still has as winning a
record as any other top ten battler, so you can expect
him to bring a little extra tonight in this battle that’s been months in the
making. There is no underdog in this fight, and whichever way it goes is we’ll
be seeing a lot of movement in the rankings afterward.
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 11:30 PST every Tuesday if you can’t catch the verbal violence in person. Thank you for reading, and thanks as always to our sponsor LA SpeedWeed.