The crowd is uncharacteristically light as the VIP section, absent not only of scheduled judge Matthew Broussard, but of practically anyone at all and takes a few fights to fill up. The early undercards see a set of debuts featuring a victory from Sasha Sanchez over the ill-equipped Chris Sneed as well as a solid first attempt from Roast Battle newcomers (but veteran comics) DJ Dangler and Mike Bobbit from which Dangler emerged victorious in a reasonably close decision.
Lonelle Price is called to the stage first bringing with him an awkward lankiness that borders on swag as he calls out a female audience member for being “bad,” which my fellow whites and I are informed by Moses is a compliment. When asked why he chose his opponent, Rob Smallwood, Lonnie makes it clear this is battle is personal.
After Lonelle earns himself a consolation dance-a-long with Roast Battle’s resident crack baby, Jamar Neighbors, and a brief back and forth with MVP judge Tony Hinchcliffe, Rob Smallwood is called to the stage with a somewhat muddled introduction that falls on silence. Lonelle leads out the round.
“Rob a fake ass bully from Baltimore. he go around trying to boss people around like he a character on The Wire, but everybody know he just as white as the creator.”
“This coming from a guy with the face of a tough lesbian. You look like you’d be a fluffer in a prison rape.”
Rob takes an early edge from the crowd with his first rebuttal hitting hard, and his follow-up landing solidly.
“That was real funny, MTV’s Rob and Big. He’s both. Rob be catfishin’ bitches. Online he got he 6’4” which is clearly a lie, he 4’4”. His thumbs are too fat to press the 4 button on his laptop.”
“Lonelle, you malnourished hobgoblin. You look like you like to fuck fat white women. Not because it’s a black thing. Just because he’ll do anything to keep warm.”
“Rob look like Carl Winslow if he decided to quit the force and become a computer programmer.”
From his second joke, Lonnie has been warming up and with a little help from Coach Tea playing the Family Matters theme song at the Carl Winslow reference, suddenly he’s got the room on fire singing along. Rob Smallwood comes in a bit off balance but attempts to directly address the turn of fortune.
“When the crowd starts singing in the middle of a bit, there’s nothing you can do.”
Tony Hinchcliffe disagrees:
“No, no, no, no, no. There’s nothing you can do.”
Suddenly the battle seems solidly Lonelle’s, as Rob digs in to take one last shot, still fumbling from the abrupt turn in energy against him.
“It’s my last joke, correct? Alright. It is… It’s unfortunate when Lonnie tells jokes on stage because no one ever believes him because he looks like every uhhh… snitch in The First 48.”
It’s all over as the bell rings and Moses begins to return to the stage. Suddenly Lonelle protests, demanding a fourth joke amid cheers from the audience to quit while he’s ahead. He demurs, firing into an awkwardly over-long one-man show.
“When it comes to comedy, Rob is a lot like Rob Kardashian for three reasons. One, he doesn’t wear the pants in comedy, he’s always getting bossed around by a bunch of bitches. Two, his comedy career never landed him any rolls and he’s always in the back. Three, all it takes is one big china cabinet to fall and kill his career that never even got started. I fucked you up, nigga.”
Rob is given a chance to fire back with an overtime joke of his own, or simply let the crowd sit in the awkwardness of Lonelle’s bomb before they cast their votes. He chooses the latter, though it proves not enough to save him and Lonnie is nevertheless awarded a decisive victory in his debut battle.
Zahra Ali takes to the stage next with an air of off-putting confidence about her. Sparring briefly with our house hater, the Saudi Prince, she doesn’t appear to be in the mood for any of this. Moses calls her opponent Tom Whalen up next with one hell of an introduction:
“This guy doesn’t win a lot, Coach Tea says he stinks. Let’s meet Tom Whalen.
Tom steps to the stage in a bandana and jiu-jitsu gi, the words “Never Forget” Sharpied on his shirtless belly. He’s immediately torn down by both Joe Dosch and Tony Hinchcliffe. He volunteers his opponent, Zahra Ali to go first in this three-joke undercard. She seems somehow unprepared.
“I cannot wait to watch this guy lose.” – Tony Hinchcliffe
Tom has the vibe of that whole, ‘I kinda don’t care about how I’m sucking all the energy and life out of the room.’ But I want you to know, Tom, you should feel bad about what you’re doing right now. – Joe Dosch
Zahra takes the first swing.
“Ummm… Alright… What do I start with? Tom will never admit to being gay. Not because he’s catholic, but because he’s too fat to come out of the closet.”
“I may be fat, but at least I don’t look like an anorexic chemistry teacher. Zara, do you know you don’t get 72 virgins for starving to death?”
“Whatever. Guys, I may be petite and small, but I’m still bigger than the midget who raped you. Alright. Alright. So, Tom’s job is, umm.. screaming out specials outside of a seafood restaurant. It’s not the first time he’s catcalled a stranger… uh… only to give him crabs… later.”
“Zara, you’re bombing worse than your Uncle Akbar. Guys, Zahra means “flower” in whatever their language is…”
“Arabic, you imbecile.”
“Right. And it’s weird because I’ve never found a flower that smells like curry and dogshit. But I’m still looking.”
“Alright, alright. Tom… Tom, you human jar of mayonnaise. You remind me of Chris Farley because you’re fat, loud, and you’ll probably die of an overdose.”
“Guys, Zahra didn’t have anything to do with the Boston Marathon bombing, but her pussy does smell like 3,000 burning shoes.”
The “burning shoes” line is enough to secure the win for Tom Whalen after a fairly dismal showing from Zahra Ali, which she somehow seems to blame him for. Amidst questioning from the judges, she insists she rehearsed plenty, despite fumbling clumsily through all three. She insists she worked hard despite the fact that two of her three jokes have been done to equally mediocre effect in over a dozen battles prior (estimate courtesy of our beloved search bar). But the final issue, and the reason I’ve opted for such a blunt tone in recapping this fight, is that she refused to hug her opponent at the end. Despite having seen many hundreds of battles, I actually had to look up to find out the only other time this has happened (Nick Petrillo snubbed Robbie Goodwin, for trivia’s sake).
What even is this show without the hug at the end? Roast Battle is a sport, and to come in, do poorly on your own merits, and then behave like an entitled brat when it’s all said and done is pretty shameful. Zahra is booed angrily by the entire crowd as she walks back to the green room. Even the Periscope viewers were unanimously disgusted by the display, and they’re fucking animals (no offense, Periscope). Some of Zahra’s post-battle face-saving Facebook comments seem to suggest it was either because Tom was gross and sweaty, or because she believes he may have anonymously sent her some racist text messages, both of which are fairly low-effort excuses. Anyone who knows Tom knows: 1) He is definitely not an angry racist, and 2) He is always sweaty and gross, so that’s what you’re signing up for when you battle him. The text message issue is being looked into very seriously, though, to see if it is anyone involved in the show, and that will be dealt with as it evolves.
Next up, David Lucas comes to the stage to face his toughest opponent yet, Alfred Konuwa. To this point, David has flawlessly plowed through every opponent he’s come up against. There’s an extended back and forth between Lucas and Saudi Prince from the start that opens David up early, as he refuses to let up against the House Hater.
“You look like you on a break from 7/11, bitch.” – David Lucas
“You look like you need a break from 7/11, my friend.” – Saudi Prince
The room explodes and for the first time we see a chink in the armor of David Lucas. Alfred Konuwa stays poised and confident, ready to capitalize on the energy shift. He volunteers to go first, a daring act against a competitor so well known for his rebuttals.
“David is a pescatarian, that means he’ll only eat fish. Why, because you’re jealous they can swim without a t-shirt?”
“This nigga just taught me something I don’t know about myself, cuz I fucked up some chicken wings before I came here. I don’t know what he talkin about. But as we know, this nigga from Africa. His family sold him for two goats and a sheep.”
David’s return fire hits wonkily and where he’d normally have an opportunity for an off the cuff comeback, he seems to have hobbled himself by the need to explain that he actually does eat chicken.
“Listen, it’s really easy to call me white-washed, but my mom is from Africa. Your mom is Sandra Bullock from The Blind Side.”
“This nigga look like a African Wayne Brady. I never met a nigga who look like his gums blacker than his skin color.”
“Wait, David, how do you even know what I look like? I thought diabetes is supposed to make you blind? David has one main chick and three side chicks. Even his love life sounds like the late night menu at Popeye’s.”
Alfred has stayed on top for the full duration of the match while an off-balance David Lucas seems shockingly unable to keep up. David goes into his phone to search for a closer. Alfred digs in further.
“Last chance, nigga!”
“This mothafucka so white, he go to Popeye’s and order a chamomile tea.”
The joke lands decently enough, albeit more like connecting a jab on your way down to the matt. David Lucas, the Mike Tyson of Roast Battle, has met his Buster Douglas. The decision is unanimous, and a shock to anyone not seeing Lucas in the ring for the first time. He seemed unbeatable, but Alfred Konuwa is the giant killer. He held the room’s energy in his hands, delivered top-shelf material and earned as quality a win as possible over an opponent who’s brief run at Roast Battle has earned him both praise and fear from all manner of top tier competitors.
Guam Felix is called up first for the evening’s second-to-final fight. He appears cool and relaxed, in a sort of back-to-basics approach after a number of misfires lead to a brief self-imposed exile from the Roast Battle arena. Haiti is summoned to stage next with a botched introduction that seems to be attempting to mock Guam for his job as a Comedy Store door guy, but falls flat. Guam coolly volunteers to draw first blood.
“Haiti got in shape from doing dead lifts. That’s him lifting his dead family members after the hurricane.”
“I work out. Unlike your comedy career. Guam look like a undrafted sumo wrestler.”
“Haiti’s really poor and he has three brothers. That’s why he always takes off his shirt. Because he has to share it.”
“Thank you, Fat-tue of Liberty. I treat my body like a temple. Guam treat his body like the Temple of Doom.”
“Haiti got sponsored by the humane society because they thought he was an oil spill porcupine.”
“Last time Guam was under 200 pounds, you was a sperm. That was stupid. I’m sorry. Guam looks like a video game character nobody plays with.”
“Haiti looks like the monkey king from Planet of the Rapes.”
“Guam Felix is every comedian’s nightmare. He been doing comedy for 28 years and he hasn’t accomplished shit Excuse me, if you can get up right now, go to the bathroom and take a shit, you will have accomplished more than Guam ever did at The Comedy Store. That was long as shit, but I’m just sayin’ this nigga ain’t shit.”
“Haiti’s gonna be in the new Star Wars movie as Darth Vader Tranny.”
“Guam opened up for a lot of celebrities. You have to… as a security guard.”
Guam’s final joke falls flat after solidly landing each and every other blow. Haiti had trouble from the beginning but gets in a solid reaction to his final joke and continues trading barbs with Tony Hinchcliffe after the bell to little effect. The previous strong showings we’ve seen from Haiti do not see a repeat, and Guam Felix captures his first solid win in some time, deservedly so.
Finally, despite the energy appearing to have already peaked from the destruction of David Lucas, it’s an uphill battle to keep the crowd’s attention as Jacob Trimmer and Tony Bartolone come to the stage. Jacob opens the match.
“Tony dated an amputee. He swept her off her feet, then she gnawed them off to escape.”
“Jacob used to sell drugs. It was the only time he’s ever given a woman ecstasy.”
“Home is where the heart is, and that’s why Tony is homeless, because nobody loves him.”
“Jacob’s dad forced him to be in Boy Scouts. And Jacob’s Boy Scout leader forced him to be in other boy scouts. “
“If punchlines were house payments, you’d somehow be even more homeless. Tony tried killing himself with scissors. Tony, how does it feel to fail at suicide and arts and crafts.”
“Jacob actually got stabbed in the wrist. Dude, even other people are trying to kill yourself.”
The crowd has grown less and less receptive through the battle and suddenly all focus is pulled from the fight as the audience becomes interested in the fact that a bottle of expensive alcohol that a fan brought Roastmaster General Jeff Ross for his birthday has tipped off the bench and shattered by the emergency exit. Moses scrambles to clean the glass up before the mass exodus that follows the main event causes it to get trampled and possibly hurt someone. Jacob wonders whether they should just continue.
“Should we wait for that to be done? First, I do thank you for delivering your jokes to the beat of your dad’s heart attack. Tony has terrible vision. Even with his glasses he’ll never be able to see his father again.”
“That’s right, my dad died of heart failure. Unlike Jacob’s dad who’s forced to live in a house with person failure.”
“I appreciate that coming from the Pillsbury Don’t Have a Home Boy.”
“That’s cute, hell’s angel-food cake.”
“Tony the only time you’ve dropped weight was lowering you dad’s casket.”
“Jacob got fired from Lenscrafters. It’s very weird that he worked there in the first place when it’s in his best interest for people not to see his face clearly.”
“Again, Tony got dumped by an amputee. Tony, you’re such an unfuckable failure a girl with no legs walked out on you.”
“Thank you Cinn-A-Bons of Anarchy. Jacob looks like he’d go to Magic: The Gathering of the Juggalos.”
Despite the distractions, both battlers land some solid blows, but ultimately Tony appears to have held the edge of over Jacob for nearly the full duration of the round, while both battlers receive props for their ability to remain composed while competing with the excitement of a bottle breaking. With the lineups getting larger and larger week by week, it’s grown more and more difficult to determine which fight will be the evening’s peak. Like making a playlist without having heard any of the songs before, and for an audience – most of whom have been in the room for over two full hours – it’s harder and harder to get the energy back after each successive dip. Tony Bartolone, for his part, earns a second consecutive win, and a return to past glory. Roast Battle will return next week with more shocking upsets, verbal beatdowns, and killer jokes. Until then, keep roasting.
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 10:30 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.