By the end of the evening’s overlong standup pre-show, the Belly Room crowd is sizzling and seething with bloodthirst as the first fight is set to commence.
Per usual, Zach Stein is brought up by Moses with reference to his most well-known credit: having a gigantic penis. The All Black Girl Choir, A.K.A. “The Weave,” enters into a chorus of “let’s see that dick!”
“I demand that they let me give them a hundred dollars before I show it to them. It’s the only way I can get hard.” – Zach Stein
Moses commends him on the [white] power-move, and extends a greeting to Armando Torres, bringing him to stage. After a brief introduction, Saudi Prince and the VIP panel each weigh in.
“This looks like a great battle… you finally have a Child of the Corn going against a migrant worker.” – Saudi Prince
“I feel like the only way Zach could win this would be with an AR-15 he shouldn’t have been able to get his hands on.’ – Mike Lawrence
With that, Armando comes in to fire the first shot.
“As you can tell by Zach’s haircut, he’s leaving his Hitler Youth behind for his Hitler Early Thirties”
“Last year a doctor found cancer in Armando’s throat. I mean this guy will eat anything.”
“Allegedly, Zach has a big dick. But it’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of handing a hooker $50.”
“Nah, like $130, usually… His Mexican dad left his Texan mom. So Armando grew up to chants of ‘Remember the Alamo-ny.’”
“Zach’s voice like that because he’s still trying to swallow the fact that he’s gay.”
“Someone else swallowed that fact already… A young Armando actually beat up his stepdad over a piece of pizza. Who knew you could have an origin story for being a big fatass.”
Everything works, not a single flat note in the full round. The judges afford plenty of props to Armando, but nevertheless vote unanimously for Zach on the merits of his haymaker opening joke. The audience, however, is far less definitive and the even-split triggers a classic sudden-death joke-off.
“Armando has a Mexican dad and a Jew mom. But they had him when they were both in high school, so he’s 100% Mexican.”
“Zach is so gay even the closet he’s stuck in has a foyer.”
Zach nails it, with the bold move of saving what might’ve been his best joke for overtime, while Armando’s is clearly more of a fourth-favorite choice. With a different joke order, the edge may likely still have gone to Zach on overall consistency, but regardless, the match was a perfect way to start the night.
Next up Josh Waldron is brought up with Brett Erickson, who’s pre-battle banter is so simple and perfectly concise it bears mentioning:
“Why’d you wanna battle Josh?” – Moses
“[pointing to Josh] pfffffffffffffffffffffffffft. C’mon.” – Brett Erickson
A huge pop from the crowd gives him an early lead from what seems like such a simple idea, but that somehow no one has thought to do in about a thousand battles. It kills, and deservedly so. Josh volunteers to take the first swing, a daring move on its own that could help to make up the early ground lost.
“Brett’s girlfriend is a bartender at the Comedy Store, making her the only one of the two that gets paid to be here.”
Josh connects solidly, but Brett stays on his toes and capitalizes by rolling with the punch, earning his own laugh off Josh’s joke.
“That’s sad but true, god damn it. I think of Josh as the son I never wanted. And since his parents were already divorced when he was born, so do they.”
The simple aside gets a little more love than the actual pre-written joke, but it still looks like Brett Erickson is holding his lead, barring a knockout punch from Josh.
“Brett looks like he got… umm… I fucked it up, wait… Brett looks like he’s on permanent face-swap with a deadbeat dad.”
Josh manages to recover and still get a response on the line, but only two jokes in and he’s all but out.
“I’ve seen Josh’s act, the Florida school shooting had fewer walk-outs.”
“Brett doesn’t follow me on Twitter, which is okay because everyone he follows ends up missing.”
“Josh signed up to join the Air Force, but he quit when he found out that wasn’t the gay one.”
Josh finishes strong enough to save some face, but the perfect closing line from Brett Erickson along with Josh’s slip-up on the second joke seals the deal and earns Brett a fifth straight win to maintain his perfect record.
Paige Wesley and Isaac Hirsch take to the stage, with Isaac offering to summarize why he’s up there.
“I think that no matter what happens, this is an objectively funny looking battle.”
The Roastmaster himself, Jeffrey Ross, along with Mike Lawrence take shots of their own.
“He looks like he blew up his sex doll too much.” – Jeff Ross
“This looks like a Trader Joe’s cashier and his best customer.” – Mike Lawrence
Isaac opts to take the first swing.
“Paige has been with her boyfriend a very long time. At this point, the only way the question’s getting popped is if she sits on it.”
“Isaac’s just jealous. He’s just looking for a nice girl, and he knows he buried her somewhere.”
The Weave breaks into a chorus of “he’s a school shooter,” and Isaac is right on it with a rebuttal.
“I’m not strong enough to load a gun.”
As they did earlier with Brett Erickson, the crowd once again greatly appreciates the off-the-cuff self-deprecation, and they cheer as Isaac continues with his next joke.
“Paige has a podcast about cults, but she only got into cults because she heard they have Kool-Aid.”
“It’s true, I do love me some Kool-Aid, but this fool looks like his blood type is Mountain Dew Code Red. I’m really impressed Isaac drove himself here tonight, because in California you need a booster or a car seat for any child under 120 pounds.”
“Paige is a good Christian woman, so it warms her heart that everywhere she gots people say ‘Jesus Christ!’”
“In high school, Isaac was actually voted prom king, homecoming king and goblin king.”
Isaac takes the victory in a clean sweep, with a softer-than-usual showing from Paige Wesley. Isaac really owned his character and was able to endear himself to the audience and absorb a lot of blows by being self-aware and self-effacing when necessary. Paige nevertheless stays in the pocket outside of regulation, throwing in a solid B-side line during the deliberations, unphased by the apparent L.
“His goal weight is fitting into that shirt.” – Paige Weldon
“She’s just salivating at the sight of ribs.” – Mike Lawrence
Mike Lawrence somehow kills the hardest of all, but it’s still Isaac’s battle as the crowd votes decisively in his favor.
On to the first of the Main Events. Ramsey Badawi and Tony Bartolone are brought up to an abrupt and awkward energy shift as the crowd becomes a bit more muted, possibly having peaked from the preceding clash. Tony is introduced as being allowed to battle despite having lost the tournament already, and Ramsey is incorrectly introduced as a Republican, possibly pitting the crowd against both of them as neither addresses the sour response. Tony opens the single round.
“Ramsey looks like he would make 72 virgins write #metoo posts.”
“Tony is an improviser, he’s a blogger, he’s homeless, he’s what Hollywood refers to as a triple threat…to the safety of women.”
“You look like a DJ from a country that just started having dance music.”
“Tony is off the grid, but clearly not off the McGriddle.”
“Did you know that it is customary for Palestinian men to name their punching bags? For example, his dad named him Ramsey.”
“Thank you very much, Michael Moore’s ugly sister. Tony looks like the only guy that gets all his clothing donations rejected from the Goodwill.”
“Ramsey’s actually extremely depressed. He joined ISIS just for the suicide.”
Saudi Prince interjects.
“Whatever the reason, we need people.”
“Tony’s dad never visits him, because he’s a mailman and Tony doesn’t have an address… Also, he’s dead.”
“Ramsey looks like a genie that appears when you rub a vape.”
“When Tony’s dad’s arm went numb, it was because he was having a heart attack. When Tony’s arm went numb, it was because it was stuck in a vending machine again.”
Neither competitor gets anything close to what they deserve on writing alone from the crowd. There’s reserved chuckles at what might’ve been haymakers on another night and there’s no real accounting for what happened. The judges dig in a bit, but ultimately all go for Tony based on his closing joke.
For the next fight, Katrina Davis comes up first with a warm reception from judges Amin Elhassan and Clayton English as well as a special miniature dance routine from The Weave in commemoration of her being the evening’s only black battler for this third week of Black History Month. Enough jokes are made about Amin and Clayton voting for Katrina automatically that it may in a way be pitting the audience against her from the start.
Alternatively, Bryan Vokey slovenly approaches the stage to Ram Jam’s “Black Betty,” courtesy of Coach Tea. The bare-bones, badass introduction in contrast with the theatrics and fanfare of Katrina’s coming-out set the tone of the battle to come. Vokey just fearlessly plows through the pre-bell banter, correcting Moses’ erroneous introduction of him as being from Cleveland. He lets everyone know that he’s actually from Atlanta, paving the way for a few riffs that give him the opportunity to show off his knowledge of Waffle House and black culture just to level the playing field. To top it off, in the baller-est of moves, he tells Katrina to go first.
“Bryan looks like he’s next in line to inherit a tow truck company.”
“Katrina’s teeth are like Rosa Parks. They’re always fighting to sit up front.”
“And they deserve to.”
While the teeth joke kills, Katrina takes the win in that particular back and forth as the room explodes at her aside. Vokey jumps in to calm down The Weave before Katrina continues to her regular joke.
“C’mon. This ain’t a movie theater.”
“Bryan used to be in a punk band but now he’s just the Johnny Rotten of Johnny Rockets.”
“Katrina, you’re so confusing. You act like an Uncle Tom, but you look like a first season Aunt Viv.”
The Fresh Prince reference is another perfectly seized opportunity from Bryan Vokey to take control of his inner blackness and own it.
“If Bryan were a troll and he’d let you cross his bridge for a PBR and if you told him that his dead mother would be proud of him.”
The delivery comes out a bit mangled on Katrina’s troll joke and the audience seems unsure exactly where or at what they should be laughing. Vokey doesn’t stumble and just keeps swinging.
“That joke was longer than my mom’s battle with cancer. Katrina’s like a Florida high school. Every couple months a white nerd unloads in her.”
“Bryan is so white and gross he thinks Wakanda is the name of his favorite day stripper.”
“It makes sense that Katrina likes Jewish guys. She’s a daddy’s girl who looks like she’s been in an oven too long… Jewish girls love their dads… I thought… Hollywood… Jews…. I thought you’d be a bunch of Jews. A bunch of filthy fucking Jews.”
It’s an absolute bomb from Bryan but the audience seems to have forgotten about it completely by the time he’s done speaking as he takes complete ownership of it and earns a laugh at a little more self-deprecation. Katrina continues.
“You might recognize Bryan from every youtube video showing you how to make your AR-15 fully automatic.”
“Katrina’s got EBT… Extra Big Teeth.”
The teeth joke callback lands perfectly, but Bryan holds up his finger to indicate he’s not done yet and takes the risk of tagging his own joke.
“Unlike her mouth, I had to space out my teeth jokes.”
Vokey delivers the knockout combination, and after a long protracted debate between judges black and white over the sin of letting a black battler lose during this special time of year, Katrina ultimately concedes with honor intact, and both her and Bryan hug and walk off having won the night.
In the evening’s last tournament quarter-final main event matchup, Rena Hundert takes on Jonathan Rowell, both unable to overcome the issue that the evening has already peaked.
“Jonathan was really excited when he got his marijuana card, because he thought it was gonna be a real green card.”
“Rena looks like the daughter Liam Neeson decided to stay Taken.”
“Jonathan told me he wants to be a producer, but I think he was just trying to pronounce ‘produce.’”
“Rena wants to be the top Roast Battler, but right now she just looks like the top half of a horse costume.”
“Jonathan’s just obsessed with horses because they have big dicks.”
“As you can tell, when Rena tells a joke it’s a lot like a mass shooting, because people are trying to pass a law so it can never happen again.”
“Jonathan doesn’t eat pussy, but he does get paid in cash to trim their hedges.”
“Rena can speak three different languages, and she speaks them all with her big yellow teeth.”
“Jonathan used to live in Eagle Rock and now he cuts in Big Bears.”
“When Rena lived in Israel, they called her vagina the Gaza Strip because children don’t make it out of there.”
There are countless groans of disappointment throughout the battle, and it’s very unfortunately unable to match the energy of what preceded it. Jeff Ross jumps in to offer his critique.
“We end a two hour show with a fucking rehearsal?” – Jeff Ross
“Yeah can we just give it to the black girl?” – Mike Lawrence
“Black girl? I thought Haiti was back.” – Jeff
Ultimately, Jonathan Rowell takes the win and advances to the semi-finals next month, and that does it for this week’s fights, going out with a fizzle on an otherwise fire-breathing night.
With the tournament coming to a close, it’s certainly shaping right up to serve the actual purpose for which it was put together: to create a few new stars within the show’s ranks as some newer battlers, maybe this week more than ever before, got a real chance to finally shine. For the semi-finals on March 6th, we’ll be seeing Bryan Vokey take on the yet-to-be-beaten Jeff Sewing in what should be an absolute bloodbath, while Tony Bartolone and Jonathan Rowell will also be battling each other which should be fun, hopefully. Let’s roast!
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 PM PST every Tuesday if you can’t catch the verbal violence in person. Thank you for reading, and thanks as always to our sponsor SpeedWeed.