The coolest thing about Roast Battle was also the most frustrating. For years, the show operated while leaving few traces of its own existence on the internet. In an age where everyone shamelessly promotes themselves at every available opportunity, Roast Battle eschewed the standard blueprint and chose to operate like a speakeasy during Prohibition. If you knew about it, congrats, you were one of the cool kids. If you didn’t know about it, good luck finding out. You had to know a guy who knew a guy who was vaguely aware of this urban legend and then go watch it for yourself. Live. That was basically the only choice. Sure, if you were already “in” you could follow along on Periscope. But those videos disappeared after 24 hours, so if you first found out about Roast Battle on a Friday you were just kinda fucked if you wanted to check out some content. The only option was the Comedy Central version of the show, and with all due respect to that program, it never really captured the low down and grimy feel of the Belly Room. It’s hard to convey “150 people packed into a 40-person venue that also happens to be 120 degrees” on TV. So the coolest show on Earth operated completely under the radar, which I found maddening.
On one hand, sure, it added to the vibe. I get it. The first rule of Fight Club, etcetera etcetera. Here’s the thing though – in this verbal Fight Club, I was lucky enough to have several absolute classic matches in front of crowds that could best be described as bloodthirsty lunatics, and there was no record of them anywhere. There were a bunch of reasons that got floated around, and I’m still not sure which ones were legit and which ones were bullshit. But the bottom line is that we were running Magic vs. Bird every Tuesday for a couple hundred people live and another thousand or so on the 12th most popular video streaming app of 2016. And then those videos would disappear into thin air and just become old wives’ tales, the comedy equivalent of Babe Ruth calling his shot in the World Series.
Until now. Now, the videos are coming out, thanks to Jay Light (Head of Digital at Roast Battle). The old school, raw shit. No HD cameras. One camera angle. None of the polished looks in massive “arenas” that Comedy Central provided. Just the greatest underground show in comedy, finally being presented the way it had been at the Comedy Store since 2013 – gritty, uncensored, and mean as fuck. So if you’ve stumbled upon this little write-up and haven’t checked out the videos yet, head over to our YouTube page and start binging. If I may make a suggestion, start with Robin Tran vs. Joe Eurell. If a cripple and a trans woman trying to murder each other with words doesn’t do anything for you, then good riddance. We didn’t want you anyway. To everyone else who is just now discovering the magic, welcome to the jungle. Glad we could put it out for you. Better late than never.
Watch the entire Roast Battle Classics playlist right here: