After a rousing chunk of stand-up performances, we get the battles going. As our judges slide onto the panel – The Sklar Brothers, Tom Green, Jeff Ross, and Tony Hinchcliffe – Moses introduces our first battle.
Kicking things off, we have Karina Reyes versus Destiny Lalane. Two new comics and virgin roasters. Two “adorkable” girls with glasses. Do they have the roasting chops? Let’s see.
“Karina, you look like me if I had autism.”
“You’re so clever to use my own joke against me, thanks. I’m actually surprised that you showed up, I thought that you would take up after your father and run away.”
“Karina has a master’s degree in electrical engineering. It’s about time she started engineering a life.”
“I guess you don’t listen to me, because it’s actually environmental engineering.”
While Karina’s first rebuttal got a few “OHHH”s from the crowd, her second rebuttal brings the house down more than any actual joke either of these nice young ladies have said so far.
“She brought the motherfuckin’ hammer on that shit!” – Jason Sklar
“Destiny, I know you’re bi, and you love being naked around me. But just because we both have daddy issues doesn’t mean I wanna fuck you.”
“Some people say Karina uses her ethnicity for industry opportunities, but that’s simply unfair, because she also uses her gender.”
“I don’t even have a rebuttal ‘cuz that wasn’t even funny.”
“Good one, Shake Shack Shakira.”
The totally nonsensical “thank you” from Destiny gets another big pop, and Autistic Thunder starts a “SHAKE SHACK SHAKIRA!” chant.
“Destiny, it’s not your fault that you’re a slut. I would be one too if my name was Destiny.”
All in all, it’s a pretty decent showing from these first two fighters! The judges weigh in.
“It was awkward and lovely to watch at the same time.” – Jeff Ross
“It felt like a battle between two people who work at a Boost Mobile store.” – Randy Sklar
“I think Ali Wong’s stand-in was pretty good.” – Jason Sklar
“Great battle, Daria versus Dora. It’s gonna be really awkward when these two see each other at the same audition any day now.” – Tony Hinchcliffe
The judges give the edge to Destiny, and the audience follows suit.
After that we have Garrett Ulrich versus – wait, Moses has to pull out his phone and figure it out. Quick, somebody vamp!
“Who’s ready for some faith-based rock n’ roll?” – Jeff Ross
After Moses gets Garrett’s opponent’s name right, Kenan Kaya himself comes to the stage. The intros lay out the base facts: Kenan’s a Muslim kid with a small dick, and Garrett doesn’t have custody of his child. The juicy stuff! Let’s roast!
“Guys, keep it going for Kebab Kardashian. Kenan is a Muslim kid who took acid, and he’s scared of the flashbacks. One time his mom took acid to the face.”
“Give it up for WWE wrestler Triple H…I.V., everybody. Yo, Garrett’s a really experience surfer. The only time he bails is on his daughter.”
“Good one, Osama Bro Laden. Kenan’s girlfriend tells jokes about how glorious her pussy is. And Kenan hates it, because Kenan always thought he was her favorite pussy.”
“Give it up for Dazed and Sexually Confused, everybody. Garrett taught his baby mama yoga, because he knows she has to make that child support stretch.”
“In the third grade, Kenan went to the Neverland Ranch. Don’t worry, nothing bad happened, even pedophiles think Kenan’s dick is too small to play with.”
“Garrett, you transgender mermaid. Both of Garrett’s parents are police officers. And it makes sense why he has a mixed-race baby: ’cause they taught him how to empty loads into a minority.”
If the first battle was two virgins figuring it out for their first time, this battle was two relative newbies who watched a lot of porn and decided to go hard as fuck.
“Garrett, you look like a magician and a magician’s assistant.” – Randy Sklar
“As a Jew, I don’t wanna give it to a Muslim, but I am proud of [Kenan].” – Jason Sklar
“Bill, you were great. Ted, you were great.” – Tom Green
“I’m gonna give it to the guy trying to suspiciously go through TSA.” – Tony Hinchcliffe
Kenan had the knockout punch here. He put Garrett through his paces. The judges praise him heavily and he wins the audience vote.
Next up, Salvatore Fratallone comes to the stage dressed like an extra from a Martin Scorsese movie, complete with a meatball he’s in the process of eating.
“Why are you battling Bear?” – Moses
“He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” – Sal
Bear comes to the stage looking like he just finished selling voodoo dolls in the French Quarter. Moses calls this a caricature battle and he’s right! Bear takes first joke.
“Sal, give it up for Sal. He looks like he runs a pawn shop out of a frat house. Sal frequents Whole Foods and Sprouts because he figures the girls there are too weak to fight back.”
“Bear, that’s a nice mullet you’ve got there. Seriously, everybody give it up for Billy Gay Cyrus. Bear, why do you look like Theo Von if he was an aborted fetus?”
“Thank you, Dollar Store Pauly D. Sal claims that his family’s mafia, but he’s never whacked a guy… without swallowing.”
“Bear, how do you look like a substitute teacher and a school shooter at the same time?”
“It’s how I get into the school.”
“Arrest this man!”
“Alright, thank you very much Fanny Pack Bonaduce. Sal’s a smooth operator over here, guys. He never gets his panties in a bunch, ‘cus he likes them organized with the names and dates of his victims.”
“Bear’s had a hard life. It’s been a roller coaster… that he still isn’t tall enough to get on!”
This one turns out to be pretty weird and quite fun. How can you hate a battle starring a guy wearing designer Crocs and a guy in a beige jumpsuit?
“I don’t know who won or lost this battle, I just want these two lesbians to get married.” – Randy Sklar
“These are stages of Hannah Gadsby.” – Moses
After some debate over the legitimacy of Sal’s meatball and Bear’s confidence, Bear ultimately earns the audience vote.
Up next, the final undercard, and the most controversial battle of the night! Madison Grace versus Digits. Madison, an 0-1 fighter, comes to the stage and stumbles out of the gate when Moses asks why she wants to battle Digits:
“I have three chihuahuas at home, so I think I get it… not impressive.”
The crowd doesn’t respond at all. Digits struts to the stage wearing a Mexican flag bandana on his face, sunglasses on his eyes, and Raiders gear head to toe. He walks around the stage flipping everyone off.
Digits paces around the stage as the crowd takes him in. As everyone gets on his wavelength, Moses asks why he’s battling Madison.
“Why do you look like you park cars at The Forum?” – Jeff Ross
“Why do you look like… you don’t have a car? JAJAJA!” – Digits
“Because, fool! Most people go to the manager… I’m going to the Wendy’s logo.”
Digits almost accidentally smacks Madison in the face when he points at her, prompting Moses to remind him that there’s no physical contact.
“Sorry, that was an accident! She’s just has a big nose.”
Digits takes his trademark knee and the crowd reacts appropriately. Moses forces Digits to take first joke for almost getting physically violent instead of just sticking to words, and he continues before Moses even leaves the stage.
“Madison’s got a big nose. Madison also has some big-ass ears. Madison’s ears are so fuckin’ big, she already heard who won the elections in November! JAJAJA… Trump.”
“Good one, Eazy E-Lote.”
Digits is unfazed by her rebuttal.
“ENH! Coach Tea’s in the house!”
“Should I just trip him? For real. Digits is bilingual, which means he can’t read in two languages.”
All of the momentum shifts immediately. The crowd hoots and someone hollers “YOU CAN’T READ!” at Digits. He keeps his composure and launches into another joke.
“Y’all are stupid, JAJAJA. Madison is a pathetic white lady. She named her cat boyfriend, so when people called her, she’d be like, ‘I’m with my boyfriend!’ JAJAJA – stupid bitch!”
“Good one, Spic Ross. Digits punched his parole officer, which is the only time one of his beats will ever make it on a record.”
“Hey yo, Madison is so white and racist, she doesn’t drink because she’s afraid of blacking out. She thinks blacking out is acting out black. Aw hell naw! JAJAJA”
“That was so cute! Good one, Que Hora-S–One.”
“ENH! Britney Spears, JAJAJA”
“Digits is such a rapist, the most dangerous hood in LA is his foreskin.”
Digits tries to fire back, but his rebuttal is drowned out by an applause break and cheers from the crowd. For the first time in a minute, it looks like someone has Digits’ number. Just when it looks like everything’s going to go smoothly towards the judges, who were surely about to shower praise on both these battlers, Digits makes a controversial call.
“Rest In Peace to Russell Ells, her boyfriend, because you can’t be dead and not ghostwriter.”
After Moses immediately clarifies with Madison that she wrote her own jokes, the judges go back into doing what they do best: diffusing awkward tension.
“I never thought I wanted the wall…” – Jason Sklar
“You probably wanted a Wahlburger, fool.” – Digits
“It looks like a woman who went to prison to get scared straight and got more than she bargained for.” – Randy Sklar
“I liked the pacing, I liked the performance, I like your new band Cypress Broke…” – Tom Green
The flow seems to be going in Madison’s direction from the judges, and as Jeff begins to weigh in on why he liked her originality, Digits accuses her once again of using a ghostwriter. Jeff tells him he can’t be a sore loser, and Digits gets even more defensive, continuing to pace and ramble. Jeff tries to pump him up, reminding him that he’s a star in this room but that Madison clearly got the best of him tonight, and it seems to placate Digits for a second.
Then Tony Hinchcliffe takes the mic.
“I think everyone knows I’m a huge Digits fan, or as I call him, Pace Picante. It was a very interesting battle because she had better jokes, but he was funnier, somehow… I could definitely tell a man wrote her jokes for her, just because I’ve been around comedy for so long, so sorry to say that, I love you in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, I’m a big fan. But, uh, Digits, I feel like after this all your homies are going to wear your face on their t-shirts because of how badly you got killed here tonight.”
I don’t like editorializing too much during these posts, but I feel that it’s important to make a distinction here. Tony, who has judged Roast Battle dozens of times over the years, has not shied away from using the heel persona he has developed on stage when he takes to the dais. This is not the first time that the man who calls himself “one of the top young rising comedians in the world” every time he gets on stage has suggested that a female roast battle competitor did not write their own jokes. This I attribute to the character of “Tony Hinchcliffe.” It’s not polite or nice, but Tony’s on-stage persona is proudly neither of those things, so I don’t think it’s out of line for him to say that as a judge – especially considering that he got booed by the crowd when he even brought it up. On a show that increasingly leans into pro wrestling-style showmanship, Tony – just like all the judges – is playing a darker, meaner version of the persona he’s cultivated for years.
However – and I cannot stress this enough – accusing your Roast Battle opponent of not writing their own jokes, live on stage, is poor form. It’s been done on this show a bunch, from the earliest days when there was still an open mic before two scrubs roasted each other around midnight, all the way to the Comedy Central iteration of the show, when Season One champion Mike Lawrence employed this very strategy against… drumroll please… Tony Hinchcliffe. Mike lost that battle, joining the ranks of many Roast Battle competitors who thought that accusing their opponent of using ghostwriters was a solid move.
I can see why you might want to call it out. The first rule of the damn show is “Original Material Only.” But it doesn’t help you to suggest that someone didn’t write their own jokes, that they stole jokes from your own act (case in point – Karina Reyes, who is still very much 0-1), or that they’re repeating a joke someone else has already made in Roast Battle. It just makes you look like a bad sport. And, more importantly, the crowd doesn’t give a flying fuck. If they did, then Digits would have won, and Mike would have won, and Karina would have won, and on, and on, and on.
Not too long ago, in a Roast Battle-related Facebook group, a discussion sprang up about the ethics of ghostwriting. Plenty of people weighed in about how they would never let someone else write their jokes for them, how it’s dishonorable, and blah blah blah et cetera. Of course, if you ask around, it’s not that hard to uncover that some of the people decrying using ghostwriters in that very thread have used jokes written by other people in their Roast Battles. But nobody is publicly calling people out about it, much less calling them out on stage, during the show. Even now, days after the battle is done, Digits continues to argue online, contending that Madison’s boyfriend wrote the jokes she used that night. For all the honor that comedians have about writing their own acts, especially serious Roast Battle competitors, unless you’re crafting some drama that rivals Joe Rogan confronting Carlos Mencia, then keep that speculation private. Your friends can handle your trash talk and conspiracy theorizing. The community can’t.
Our first main event is between Ryan Nesen and Julian Fernandez. Ryan comes to the stage looking like he just got kicked out of Fall Out Boy, while Julian comes to the stage looking like they just got out of a community theater production of The King And I. Moses reminds the crowd that Julian now identifies as non-binary.
“I think he chose.” – Ryan
It’s one round, it’s five jokes, and Ryan’s going first. Let’s not mince words.
“Julian has the face of a female UFC fighter and the body of all of their punching bags.”
“Ryan, you look like Ray Romano if nobody loved him.”
“That’s the second time I’ve heard that, that’s great.”
Nobody reacts, because nobody cares.
“Guys, let’s hear it for the last of the Ho-Mohicans. Julian has tried committing suicide three times. Unfortunately, he cuts his wrists as shitty as he cuts his hair.”
“Ryan used to wait tables. Now he just waits for women in the parking lot.”
“Woof. That was a swing and a miss. Which is ironic since you look like every college softball player.”
“That’s what I was going for!”
“Growing up, Julian wanted to be a hero. Which is why he came out as genderfluid. Congratulations, you’re finally an ex-man.”
“Ryan just got engaged, congratulations! His fiancee’s a nine, while he’s an eight, melting into a five.”
Nobody reacts, because it’s a bad joke.
“Guys, it’s Daniel Day-Fluid over here. Julian is still supported by his diabetic father. So Julian’s not the only thing costing him an arm and a leg.”
“Honestly, Ryan is a gentleman. After he rapes a woman, he always asks ‘we good?'”
The wind has been taken out of Julian’s sails. Ryan continues to dominate.
“Whoosh. Do I even need another one? His dad’s worked for UPS for 20 years now, and Julian’s still the most damaged brown package he’s delivered.”
“Ryan, you look like the toughest manager at a bowling alley.”
Julian swings and misses yet again. We all know what happened here, and the judges don’t treat Julian with kid gloves.
“Julian, I’m glad you brought a fan on stage, so you at least have one in here tonight.” – Jason Sklar
“I think there was something to be said about Julian coming out and fighting through whatever allergic reaction he’s having right now.” – Tony Hinchcliffe
Ryan wins the judges’ vote handily. Let’s get to this final battle between Paige Wesley and Tim McGorry. Finally, some fat on fat violence!
“I have stood on this stage 22 times and listened to fat jokes, it’s about time I get to battle someone who looks worse than me.” – Paige Wesley
“I never get to make fat jokes, it’s such a rare opportunity for me.” – Tim McGorry
“This is like Roast Battle presents Heavyweights!” – Moses
“Tim spent a weekend in jail. It was terrible. They made him go outside a full hour.”
“You look like you’re pregnant with somebody that’s pregnant.”
“You look like the poor man’s poor man.”
“Paige? More like the library!”
“Tim has been homeless two times. I don’t mean that it happened twice, I mean that he’s fat enough to lose two houses.”
“You look like Elvira if she ate the Addams Family.”
“Tim, you’re the fattest cokhead I’ve ever seen. How are you takign your drugs, by hiding them in cheese?”
“We’ll find a cure for the coronavirus before paige ever finds her clit.”
“The struggle is real.”
“By the way, they predict six to eight months.” – Jeff Ross
“Believe it or not, Tim used to be a runner. Then a walker, then a sitter, then a napper, then whatever this is now.”
“Paige is married… AND HE ISN’T BLACK!?”
Fun fight! Paige is in charge for most of the fight, but Tim’s final joke gets a long, delayed pop from the audience that threatens to turn the tide in his favor. The judges make their remarks.
“Paige, I love your leggings, it’s like an entire graphic novel.” – Randy Sklar
“It’s Pulp Ficions”
“Yeah, the whole movie!” – Randy Sklar
“And both Kill Bills, also!” – Jason Sklar
“Look at the back, it’s a Kobe mural!” – Jeff Ross
“Tim, I’m sorry we cut the umpire sketch.” – Jeff Ross
“Jeff mentioned Kobe earlier, and that got me thinking, the only thing that crashed harder than Kobe’s helicopter were these two opponents’ blood sugar.” – Tony Hinchcliffe
Paige wins! We made it through a weird show and came out unscathed on the other side. Keep up the good work, everybody, and remember: DON’T TRY AND DISCREDIT YOUR OPPONENT ON STAGE.