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by Dan Nolan

While continued fears of a fire marshal’s presence might keep tonight’s Roast Battle audience at a mere maximum occupancy, rather than it’s normal asses-to-elbows standing room only, the whole rest of the department may need to be called as well. We’re set to burn the place down with some newcomers, a stacked judges panel, and an amazing main event starring two of Roast Battle’s elite.

For our firing squad tonight, we’ve got Finesse Mitchell, Brad Williams, and a return of the Roastmaster himself, Jeff Ross!

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Brad Williams has two Showtime specials in two years under his belt and a long list of credits to boot. Finesse Mitchell is an SNL alum with countless TV appearences, and his own Comedy Central half hour. And of course rounding things out is the fearless leader in our fight to hurt the world’s feelings, Roastmaster General, Jeffrey Ross! Every time Jeff comes around it feels like Daddy went to go buy a pack of smokes and actually came back. He’s the boss, and it’s every battlers dream to do well in front of him, and with the majority of tonight’s undercards made up of first-timers, it’ll be exciting to see if a star is born. Now for some previews!

First up in the undercards is the double virgin sacrifice of Reza Asgari vs. Steven Torrez!

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This matchup marks our ethnic-sounding-name portion of the evening. A hasty Google search on Reza Asgari brings me to a Wikipedia page which lists his previous credits as “Iranian General of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Deputy Defense Minister, and cabinet member of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami,” so this could be more of a bloodbath then even we’re used to. The two are friends and co-host a show in Long Beach, and that energy almost always allows for a fun fight in the undercards.

Next up, newcomer Kate Stark sets her sights on the returning Johnny Stewart.

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With so many newcomers, predictions are impossible, but expectations often remain low. It’s that skepticism, though, that fuels much of the energy in the Roast Battle ring. This is a show that loves underdogs, and based on his debut just last week, Johnny Stewart certainly fits the description, even against a complete unknown. Will we see a tale of redemption unfold? Will the Inland Empire’s Kate Stark shine in her debut and steal the show? Will they both be really bad? Find out tonight!

In our third undercard, we see a returning Jamario McClain facing off against a debuting David Lucas in another of what may become a new trend of black-on-black battles.

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Jamario McClain had a historically underwhelming debut many months back, with what seemed closer to the kind of improvised shit talking you’d see in a game of The Dozens, a tradition in the black community with which this show shares some of it’s DNA. The battle became a lesson in exactly how different roast jokes are from funny insults. David Lucas is untested in the Roast Battle ring, but we can remain optimistic after our last all-black undercard, Lonnie Johnson versus Tony Asar, showed a glimmer of hope toward reversing the show’s “black curse.”

Rounding out the undercards are two regular old white dudes! It’s Michael Amico versus BJ Courchaine!

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Another double virgin sacrifice? Holy shit. This is a television show now, so it’s attracting a whole other kind of comic beyond what might’ve come around in it’s early open mic days. Guys with proper headshots, whose Facebook photo archives are populated with well-made fliers for Valley bar shows. The sorts of guys who make memes of their own jokes over pictures of themselves, or produce promo videos before they battle. There’s nothing wrong, really, with any of those things, other than that on a surface level they do challenge the show’s gritty roots. But at the end of the day, the arena of verbal combat is a true meritocracy. With few exceptions, the show is much more about steak than sizzle. It’s jokes that win it above all else, and here we’ll see what happens when two friends go head to head in a battle of wits and insults.

Finally, some refreshing familiarity in the evening’s Main Event matchup: Asian sensation Alex Duong against sobriety princess Anna Valenzuela.

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These are two of Roast Battle’s finest, set to go mic to mic tonight. Alex Duong has had some past missteps, but you’d have to go deep in the archives to find em at this point. He’s been on a hot streak for quite a few battles now that included a two round destruction of the previously undefeated Guam Felix some months back. Alex has kept himself in roast mode as a favorite every week at Temecula’s Roast Wars show, which has been rapidly growing in popularity and serving as a farm league for promising hopefuls of the Inland Empire comedy scene. Anna Valenzuela seems to be quickly positioning herself as the newest Queen of the Roast Battle ring. She’s had so many utterly dominant victories this past year, it’s hard to imagine anyone slowing her momentum as she rises rapidly through the ranks. Who’ll take the victory tonight and continue their streak? Find out tonight as we wind down summer with five scorching hot fights. 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 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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