by Jay Light
Last night, everyone’s favorite Belly Room show made its return to the masses with the premiere of Roast Battle II, and the masses ate it up. The internet fawned over the show’s beautiful mix of comedy and cruelty, and as the regionals rounds play out over the next couple of weeks, the nation looks like it’s in for a delightfully bumpy ride of insult comedy piloted by Jeff Ross and Brian Moses.
New York City was this season’s first stop in the search for comics to battle in the four-night tournament airing at the end of this month. The East Coast’s finest have a handful of roast dojos they can work their craft in, but most of the battlers seen tonight are regulars at The Stand’s The Roastmasters, the official sister show to the one produced at the Comedy Store. While the brackets still have not been released, judging by the quality jokes and performances shown here, it’s safe to say that at least a handful of New Yorkers will be taking a trip out here in a couple weeks to get down and dirty in the old House of Blues.
After introducing the night’s judges – Jay Pharaoh, Jim Norton, season 1 champ Mike Lawrence, and former Comedy Central Roast staple Lisa Lampanelli – Jeff and Moses kicked the show off with a bout between Eli Sairs and Scott Chaplain.
“This looks like a school shooting convention.” – Brian Moses
“Before Netflix existed, Making a Murderer is just what Eli’s parents called fucking.”
“Your dad was a racist cop. He’s in hell now. Well, he’s actually in heaven, he just calls it hell because Martin Luther King is there.”
“Your genetics are so shitty, my dead dad could beat up your alive dad.”
“You fuckin’ orphan. Y’all know the book Oliver Twist? Doesn’t he remind you of someone who doesn’t know how to read that book?”
For the most part, it remains a pretty close match from a judging standpoint, with many judges having trouble deciding which of the two deserved the win.
“You were both very good. I had no hopes for either of you, but now I’m enthused.” – Lisa Lampanelli
In the end, Eli takes the match with a 3-2 vote. After a quick commercial break to try and get the audience at home to adopt puppies or donate money to African children, the battle comes roaring back with Yamaneika Saunders versus J.P. McDade.
“What an honor it is to be here with some icons of comedy. I mean, Jay Pharaoh, Jim Norton, Cedric the Entertainer…there are a lot of great comics in New York, but, truly, Yamaneika is one of the loudest.”
“J.P. is a Catholic Wall Street banker. The only thing whiter and slimier than him is the cum on his back from Father O’Brien.”
“I knew this was gonna be a tough battle because we look like we’re on opposite ends of the fire hose. Lemme just say though, Yamaneika is so dark, she got cast in 12 Years A Slave, as the plot.”
“J.P. is from Newtown, Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook tragedy happened. And the worst thing to happen to that town was that he wasn’t 7 years old at the time of the shooting.”
“This was like watching Leslie Jones take on one of her internet trolls.” – Mike Lawrence
J.P. gets big points for his well-crafted jokes, earning votes from Jim Norton and Mike Lawrence, but the other three judges all pick Yamaneika as the victor for her swagger-filled performance.
The next contenders in the ring are Evan Williams and Zac Amico. These two have put on some of the most memorable performances at The Roastmasters, with Zac currently holding the NYC title. Tonight, neither battler disappoints, bringing maybe the most vicious round of the night.
“Guys, Evan is in great shape, but what can I say? I love home-cooked meals from my alive mom. The only recipe Evan’s mother ever left him was her toxicology report after she OD’d.
"Zac just did a show at a nudist colony. Well, it was a nudist colony. Now it’s a PTSD support group.”
“Evan puts the ‘bro’ in ‘my little brother died of cystic fybrosis.’ Because when you grow up with someone with a fatal lung disease, you’ll always be haunted by their coffin.”
“Zac has a girlfriend, and that is amazing, right? She must be more shallow than the creek your grandfather drowned in.”
The judges, once again, have a hard time picking a winner, with both Jay Pharaoh and Jim Norton calling it a tie. Mike votes for Zac, Lisa votes for Evan, and Jeff Ross breaks the tie, giving the victory to Zac Amico.
The battle that pushes us over the hump is a classic Muslim-on-Jew holy war: Dina Hashem versus her absentee father (played by Aaron Berg).
“Before pursuing his dream of doing shitty crowd work and stupid characters, Aaron used to jerk off on men for cash. Sadly, that was the last time he got paid to deliver his own material.”
“Let me tell you this, Dina. When you were first born, we wanted to drown you, ’cause you were a girl. But now, look at you! You have the teeth and tits of a man. You look like you came fourth in a shovel fight.”
Dina gets props from the judges for her deadpan delivery and savage writing.
“Dina, sweet and brutal. I think you’re the best edible we have ever fucking tasted.” – Jay Pharaoh
Aaron gets a mixed response to his performance. Some knock his decision to play a character instead of being himself, while others say that his balls-to-the-wall committment is part of what makes roasting great. Ultimately, Dina takes the W after getting the night’s first unanimous vote.
After another round of ads for dying kids and sick puppies – seriously, how many sad commercials do we have to sit through to watch some killer insults? – we’re back with Mike Recine versus Pete Lee.
“Pete Lee is Native American and divorced. Too bad you couldn’t do one of those Indian rain dances to make your wife wet.”
“Mike has a severely mentally challenged brother, which actually must be really comforting to you, ’cause on the night of your Conan set you weren’t the only one in your family who totally shit the bed.”
Mike’s joke writing is brutal throughout and is rightfully praised by the judges, but Pete’s performance and charisma winds up being what seals his victory, with every judge but Jim Norton voting for him.
The penultimate match of the night is Sean Donnelly versus Patrick Schroeder.
“Patrick looks like one of the kids from Stand By Me, and Sean looks like the corpse they find.” – Mike Lawrence
“Pat, you creepy looking motherfucker. Are you 14 or 40? You look like a therapist that only treats people he raped.”
“I was alarmed to learn that Sean is only 38 years old. You’re the only 38-year-old I’ve ever seen who looks like they’re collecting a pension. Sean, you look terrible. You look like you lost a crew at sea. Because you ate them.”
Jim Norton and Mike Lawrence vote for Sean, Lisa Lampanelli and Jay Pharaoh vote for Patrick, and the Roastmaster General breaks the tie by giving Patrick the victory. Finally, the stage is set for our last match: Luis J. Gomez versus Kerryn Feehan. These two are boyfriend and girlfriend, which earns a lot of pre-match speculation from the judges.
“She’s into guys who look like Pitbull when he plays paintball.” – Mike Lawrence
After telling their origin story, the last two battlers of the night square off and get to work.
“Kerryn has this strange fetish that no one knows about where she likes to squeeze blackheads out of my face. It’s a nice change, because usually she’s squeezing black heads into her face.”
“This is the most romantic thing Luis and I have ever done. I’m really excited to be battling my Puerto Rican boyfriend, because usually he’s the one beating me in public.”
“Thank you, Katharine Hep C. I’m noy saying Kerryn has a smelly pussy, but they use it to wake up boxers after they get knocked out. After going down on her, I understand why black men say ‘I can’t breathe.’”
“Luis actually has the phrase ‘on my own’ tattooed across his chest. Yeah. He got it the day his son was born.”
It’s super close, once again, with Jim Norton calling it a tie, Mike Lawrence calling it for Luis, and Kerryn getting the nod from Lisa Lampanelli. However, Jeff Ross calls it like he sees it: Kerryn had better jokes, but Luis is the better Roast Battler. Luis gets his arm raised in victory, and after some thank yous, we cut to credits. See you next week for the Denver and Atlanta regionals.