by Dan Nolan, photos by Troy Conrad

It’s a cold December night. As the pre-show standup concludes, Brian Moses starts the show. Both the VIP section and the Wave’s reserved seats remain barren. The energy in the room is light, as it always is, while the balcony begins to slowly fill and “battle” chants can be heard across the building.

Brett Eby and Anthony Amorello take to the stage, each timid in their own way.  While Eby looks meek, there’s a sort of charming creepiness about him, particularly against the towering façade of Anthony Amorello’s beer-soaked Boston confidence. The judge’s are instantly enchanted with Brett Eby’s energy and appearance.

“You can’t look aggressive in a sweater.” – Mike Lawrence
“Tell that to Cosby.” – Earl

Eby leads the round.

“Anthony’s so fucking stupid the only ‘A’ he got on a test was when he wrote his name down.”
“Brett’s a male nanny, he likes the movie “Summer Catch” and he looks like the doll from “Bride of Chucky” making him such an ugly pussy even Donald Trump wouldn’t grab him.”
“Anthony, you look like if Wario had a drinking problem.”
“Brett’s from Wisconsin, much like comedy legend Chris Farley. We know their careers won’t be the same, but we just hope the death is.”

The audience groans. There are times covering the show I wish I had access to all the audio of every battle so I could play back each of the at least a dozen times that someone has done a progressively shittier version of that exact joke. “People say you’re like [dead person]. Because they wish you were like [dead person] because [dead person] is dead!” And no one’s stealing the joke. To call it theft implies too much work. The most overused stock jokes arise in the absence of effort. World Champion Mike Lawrence calls it as it lies.

“That joke is buried in a van down by the river.” – Mike Lawrence

Brett Eby has a chance to strike hard after the flop, but falls short of his mark.

“Anthony’s not allowed within 1200 feet of a school because stealing kids’ lunch money is still his main source of income.”
“I just have a theory that Brett’s a male nanny because that’s the only way he can get laid.”

There’s a brief rolling laugh at Anthony Amorello’s closer after a beat of silence, and Moses takes to the stage defeatedly.

“You don’t have to make any noise.” – Moses.

After some ribbing from the judges, the vote goes to the crowd and Brett Eby takes it handily. The two are ushered off stage and Michael Huebner enters first to take on Marty Wurst.

“He’s half-Mexican, half-Moby.” – Luis J. Gomez

Marty Wurst enters to the nineties classic “I’m Gonne Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, courtesy of our beloved Coach Tea. The judges waste no time sizing up both competitors.

“This looks like a battle between two different types of drug dealers.” – Mike Lawrence

Huebner opens after the bell.

“Marty’s a director but the only things he releases into theaters are bullets.”
“I Google searched Michael Huebner, and Google said, ‘I’m sorry, there are no results for Michael Huebner. Did you mean stuttering little pussyfart.’”
“Marty thinks he looks like Paul Rudd, but his tiny dick is why they call him Ant-Man.”
Michael is terrified of spiders, and I have to reassure him, Michael, those spiders are just as afraid of pedophiles that live with their parents.
“In 2007, Marty made a film called ‘Salivate.’ It’s just 2 hours of him staring at a preschool.”
“Michael looks like the mad behind every dick pic and the dick behind every man behind every dumpster behind the Human Centipede.”

Marty’s closer loses him the round pretty handily by being maybe a little too Inception-y, but overall it’s an exciting match, and compared to the evening’s first battle, it’s clear we’re moving in the right direction.

Haiti is played on to Bob Marley’s “One Love” and postures before a seemingly endless barrage of barbs about his costume, accent, homeland, and penis size are lobbed at him mercilessly. He stays poised and in the pocket. After a number of battles and a winless record to show for it, he seems focused and intent on the task at hand. He’s here to tell some jokes.

“Y’all done?” – Haiti
“Yes we are, you deleted Street Fighter character.” – Mike Lawrence

With that, the reigning champ rips the room apart, earning every ounce of praise he’s ever gotten for his roasting chops. Mike Lawrence is unafraid to fail from the VIP section. He’s always ready to keep firing until he lands that one knockout punch that kills the room, and that’s what makes him number one.

Marcus Givan takes to the stage with confidence and swagger, while Haiti calmly oils himself up, mugging through his opponent’s introduction.

“Is this gonna be on Worldstar Hip-Hop?” – Steven Brody Stevens

Marcus starts the round off.

“Haiti’s nickname has less to do with his birthplace and more to do with the fact that he’s dirty, poor and unfriendly to gays.”
“Fuck you, nigga. I might be from a third world country, but at least I’m not a third-string nigga.”
“Haiti has spent twenty of his last thirty third-world years here in America, but hiding behind that accent to mask the fact that he never learned to read.”
“Marcus tries so hard to be a real nigga that he put Hennessy in his latte.”
“Haiti claims to have the best body in comedy, but fails to mention he got it from dick-riding for television credits.”
“Thank you so much, you unfinished nigga. Marcus is what you get when God run out of real niggas.”

Marcus’ jokes all land solidly but there seems to be this abstract connection between the crowd and Haiti that wasn’t there in earlier battles. He’s become a beloved figure in the room from his seat in The Wave and he was given the opportunity to step into his greatness and play the part of himself to perfection. There’s an obvious winner, but house hater Earl Skakel interjects.

“I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d like to see another round just to hear the N-word one more time” – Earl Skakel

Haiti’s hand is raised in victory for the first time, and it’s great to watch the joy on his face.

Before the next match begins, it’s be hard not to mention the epic on-stage meltdown of Pat Regan during his regular interstitial musical segment. After deciding that he wasn’t getting the attention he deserved, Pat launched into a nearly 20-minute musical filibuster against the audience – now composed more of regular folks, probably coming to the Belly Room for the first time mistakenly believing they’ll just see Jeff Ross and some battles like on TV, rather than what’s essentially more of a variety show with a million moving parts interspersed with music and stand-up comedy. It’s cathartic to the half-dozen or so comics who performed earlier to dead silence – myself included – but to hijack a show like that for your own entertainment is off-putting enough to earn the scorn of Moses and deeply alter the DNA of the evening. The mood is sour and awkward as Pat finally relinquishes the stage and is told never to come back.

Isak Allen and his former co-worker from La Jolla, Austin Train, take to the stage after Moses takes a moment to dress down Pat from the stage. Despite the cheers from the crowd Moses gets for his rally speech, the energy has not recovered yet. There is little in the way of theatrics before Isak volunteers to go first.

“Austin Train’s real last name is Gilbert, but he wanted to change it to something that would fit between the gap in his teeth.”
“Isak’s wife was attacked recently but was saved at the last minute by a dog. Unfortunately the dog wasn’t there in time to save her from marrying a no talent piece of shit failed musician hack.”
“Austin looks like the Muppet version of a school shooter. Sesame Street proudly presents: Murder Me Elmo.”
“Isak, you unfuckable mongoloid. You have tiny slits for eyes, a big glob of a nose. You have the face of a melted action figure.”
“Austin Train is a San Diego native but has a New York accent, which makes sense because his mouth is ground zero for some of the shittiest comedy we’ll never forget,”
“Isak, you filthy bird-like monster. Isak has the worst fucking breath. Isak’s breath smells like Mitzi Shore’s pussy before they change her diaper.”

The reaction from the crowd seems unfairly lackluster and after some debate from the judges over whether Pat Regan’s meltdown has anything to do with the underwhelming response the audience casts it’s vote without much enthusiasm for either opponent and the match is declared a draw, moving us on to our final undercard of the evening between Logan Guntzelman and Brendan Cooney.

“Cunts against Coon!” – Earl Skakel
“This looks like the saddest Christian Mingle date.” – Mike Lawrence

“Brendan looks like he weirds out the other skinheads.”
“Logan is a girl that black guys date before they realize they’re gay.”
“Brendan’s body type is ‘sighing.’”
“Logan keeps getting dumped by open mikers. Let me say that again: multiple men are choosing open mics over having sex with Logan.”
“Brendan’s been doing comedy 5 years which is almost as long as he’s had that condom in his wallet.”
“Logan is super funny and she’s just 26 years old, but that’s 48 in dog-face years.”

The room is finally blown open by a battle after the entire evening solicited little reaction from the crowd. With little discussion the need for overtime is proclaimed and Cooney leads out.

“Logan is actually one of the most attractive women I know that kind of looks like a slightly retarded dude.”
“You may recognize Brendan’s writing from the comment section of every incest porn.”

The judges declare that this was very clearly the match of the night so far and a long round of complementary roasting from the panel keeps the energy high. The vote goes to Logan, making her a very strong 2-0 contender for a main event soon, but Cooney deserves equal respect for his part. Boone is brought up to stage for his weekly rendition of Proud Mary, and we’re on to our main event between Keith Carey and Tom Goss.

“This Heavyweights cast reunion is getting uncomfortable.” – Mike Lawrence

Keith volunteers to open the premiere round.

“Tom, you school shooter Build-A-Bear. Look, I’m not saying that Tom’s a dangerous, mentally unstable lunatic, because so many doctors already have.”
“Keith looks like a turtle that put its shell on backwards.”
“I’m fat, Tom is stocky. Not physically, he just follows women to their cars a lot.”
“Keith says he’s bisexual because it’s less embarrassing than admitting gravy destroyed his rectum.”
“Tom’s spent a lot of time in a mental institution. To keep him from hanging himself, they took away his neck.”
“Keith, my neck is huge, yours is imaginary. I don’t know where your neck ends and your thighs begin.”

Tom sweeps the judge’s decision with a solid edge over two-time Battler of the Year Keith Carey, and Keith opts to have Tom start out round two.

“Keith looks like the human version of whatever clogs your sink.”
“Keith, our hearts bleed out for your terrible childhood, but not as much as your gums.”
“Keith, we don’t blame your parents for being meth addicts. We do blame you for letting them be your dentist.”

Tom starts the round big but the teeth jokes fall a little flat, as it’s hard to see into Keith’s mouth from the back of the room. Keith comes out swinging.

“Tom’s brain is so fried, he can serve it at the county fair I assume he works at.”
“Speaking of drugs, Tom recently stopped taking his psych meds, so now we have to trick him and wrap ‘em in a stick of cheese.”
“Tom is unemployed. He lost his last job helping Rocksteady and the Shredder fight the Ninja Turtles.”

Keith goes three for three in the second round, tying things up and forcing a third round. Mike Lawrence anoints Tom as the closing round’s opener.

“Keith’s mom got gangbanged while Keith hid in a closet. I still can’t believe Keith could fit in a closet.”
“It’s true, my mom got gangbanged, because unlike Tom she knows how to entertain a crowd. Honestly Tom’s just jealous that a train was run on my mom and there were less people inside of her than in his brain.”

Keith’s rebuttal rips the room open, but the follow-up fails to land.

“Keith got molested. And that man did something Keith could never ever do. Find Keith’s penis.”
“Tom also got molested and he was in special ed, so he’s had mouths full of two different kinds of paste.”
“Keith’s mom got gang raped and he’s still the most disgusting thing that’s been inside her.”
“Tom has a beautiful girlfriend, and they’ll be together forever. Or until the day he hugs her too hard and has to hide her body inside a barn.”

By the close of the round Keith has fully recovered from the fumbled tag on his first joke. The judges decide to award him the match based on his consistency through the entire match having only one dip to Tom’s two duds in the second round, but overall the match was exactly what was needed to bring the room back on track from some awkward energy throughout the night. These guys are both at the top of the game and a pleasure to watch as always. Until next time: 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 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.

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