by Dan Nolan, photos by Troy Conrad

Experimenting with an adjustment in format, Roast Battle opens cold with the evening’s first matchup. It’s a response to some issues of pacing the show’s seen in recent weeks as lineups continue to grow crowded by competitors and judges alike, causing run times rarely short of 3 hours. By starting some undercards before the judges arrive, the hope is to whet the appetites of our general admission audience, and cut down on the often overlong deliberations of our VIP guests.

Despite a barren balcony and only half-seated general audience, the energy kicks up at the “Battle!” chants as Brian Moses steps to the stage.

Recently fired from Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, ex-marine William Gilliam is brought up first. His former boss, the inexplicably named Brother The is his opponent for the evening, raising the stakes. Brother volunteers William to start the round and the bell is sounded by our man Coach Tea.

“His first name is The, which is great because his middle name is Unfunny Gay Mexican.”

Despite the still-light crowd there is a solid pop as William lands his first joke. Brother The steps in and swings.

“When I stop and think about everything William has had to overcome, like being born a tall, handsome, heterosexual white male, I would march for you any time. It would probably be to an internment camp.”

Brother The gets a solid reaction of his own, though the laughter seems quarantined to one section of the seated audience. Both comics appear to have evenly divided the room before another back and forth.

“The used to be my boss at Flappers. He had to fire me at work when they caught me being funny.”

“The one good thing William has done is birth control. He’s permanently made his DNA DUI.”

“Brother The is so anti-Trump he’s promised to bust a hole in the wall. Unfortunately it’ll only be a glory hole.”

“William and his girlfriend have recently had a really bad pregnancy scare. Turned out the veterinarian told him he was clear but it was touch and go for a while.”

Both last jokes work more evenly across the room. Moses tosses to Haiti who gives the battle a C-. William receives a solid show of support from the back of the room, but it’s no match for the front row, who overwhelmingly clamor for Brother The. Suddenly, Josh Meyrowitz has a realization and jumps to his feet declaring shenanigans.

“Moses! They all work at Flappers!” – Josh

While the nation is gripped by scandalous news stories of voting hacks, the issue appears to have extended to even our beloved Belly Room. Nevertheless, with such a light crowd, there’s no way to do it fair and it doesn’t actually matter, so Brother The takes the win and William Gilliam is once again fucked over by Flappers.

After some standup a less-than-enthusiastic Wave assembles at their bench before mortician Juan Cias is called to the stage. His opponent Mike Fellows is brought up to Nirvana by Coach, prompting howls of laughter from the crowd over his grunge-era appearance. Moses asks why he issued the challenge to Cias.

“I don’t recall calling this motherfucker out” – Mike Fellows

“Meth. We get it.” – Moses

With that, Fellows offers to open the round.

“Juan, you necrophili-hack. This guy has fucked more dead people than the estate tax”

“Mike’s last name is Fellows. So when he has sex with other fellows, it’s typically his family members.”

“Juan, that joke was weaker than your chin. You must have inherited some shitty jeans from your father, The Menendez Brothers.”

“Mike, you albino AIDS monkey. You’re so poor, your white privilege gets declined quicker than your EBT card.”

“Thank you, possessed Telemundo puppet. You turned out the way you did after getting molested in the back of a hearse by Paul Bearer at a 1993 WWF meet and greet.”

“As a mortician I can tell you Mike is not a healthy guy. He’s probably gonna die of malnutrition, because the only thing his parents taught him how to cook was heroin.”

Both battlers have come correct, each with only a few mild misfires at times, but the crowd is overall pleased. Mike Fellows gets his share of love at the audience vote, but Juan Cias earns the win.

Shannon Leigh takes to the stage next, issuing an immediate correction to Moses that her actual record on the show 1-0. Obviously, everyone cares and it makes a huge difference, so thank god she was able to set the record straight. Andy Ruther, “the original frat boy of comedy,” is called up next and with an awkward stiffness opts to defer to Shannon for the first joke.

“Andy used to work on The Lance Bass Show. His position there was ‘power bottom.’”

“Shannon’s website refers to herself as ‘a corporate businesswoman turned comedy entrepreneur.’ Which goes to show she doesn’t know the meaning of comedy. Or entrepreneur.”

Andy’s objectively terrible joke, told in a slow, methodical, TED-speaker cadence is met with complete silence. Haiti is disappointed.

“Aww, nigga…” – Haiti

Shannon Leigh has kept the crowd on her side and continues with another joke.

“Andy was worried he was gonna lose his healthcare. But then I reassured him having a vagina is a pre-existing condition.”

“Shannon actually shares her name with a famous adult film star. But she’s so bad at comedy, her parents lie and say she’s the one who does porn.”

After a moment of silence, there are some boos and a sound drop by Coach. A drunken idiot on the bench declares the battle over already, but there’s still one more back and forth to go.

“You guys are gonna have to excuse Andy. Last week he blacked out, fell into a ditch and woke up with a brain injury. He was testing out a new technique to use on sorority girls, but the only person he fucked was himself.”

“I don’t know what Shannon’s worse at: comedy or relationships. I don’t know if I’d be more embarrassed to fuck her or book her.”

There is a stunning lack of response from a basically angered crowd. The remedial Roast Battle is graded on a curve and Shannon Leigh takes an easy victory. Really, remarkably easy.

Following another break for standup, Valerie Tosi and Heather Turman prepare for battle next as our VIP panel finally begins to assemble. Valerie opens the round.

“For Heather’s five year comedy anniversary, she got a tattoo of a microphone. For her one year marriage anniversary, she got a divorce.”

“Valerie’s punchlines are just like her pussy. Buried in lipths.”

“Heather’s dad is addicted to all sorts of drugs, but the one thing he didn’t have trouble giving up was her.”

“Valerie claims this hair hair color is pretty close to her natural color. Yeah, I’m pretty sure the only time that carpet matches those drapes is when you’re on your period.”

“Heather’s such a cool girl, she really rolls with the punches. Especially the ones her ex-boyfriend gave her.”

“Valerie’s from Boston and I’m not surprised. Her comedy’s so pedestrian, it’s just another victim of marathon bombing.”

It’s the first time all night we’ve seen a real solid back and forth between two competitors worthy of one another, and the crowd is grateful as is Saudi Prince.

“This Silverlake PTA meeting went very well… I’m going to give it to the skeleton of Kevin Bacon.” – Saudi Prince

The applause tally is close, but Valerie Tosi takes a solid and well-earned win in the end.

Roastmaster Jeff Ross descends on the VIP section following an impromptu striptease from The Wave for a birthday girl in the audience. Door guy Isak Allen steps up to take on beloved underdog Lou Vahram. Lou opts to open the round.

“Isak, you deleted Rocket Power character. How do you look so much like a fish and the guy who caught it?”

“Lou was actually arrested for domestic violence and then fond an Asian girlfriend. So every year is the year of the donkey punch.”

“Isak’s a musician. He’s really into metal, which will come in handy when he has to build my fucking railroad.”

“Lou is from Philly. Little known fact: that crack in the liberty bell is because his ex ducked just in time.”

“Thank you, Yoko Oh, No Please Don’t Do Standup. Isak’s what happens when a Benihana chef chops so many onions that his eyes get stuck that way.”

“Thank you, Lou Ferigno-means-no. He was kicked out of college for the domestic violence and then didn’t do anything with his life. At least Brock Turner could swim.”

Despite being one of the better back and forths of the evening, Isak and Lou nevertheless get their share of ball busting from our now-near-fully-assembled judges’ panel including Russell Peters.

“I love mediocre Roast Battles. Shia LeBeouf? More like Shy-a-few-jokes.” – Russell Peters

Then, just as the evening seems like it couldn’t get more star-studded, Dave Chappelle pops in and has himself a seat to some thunderous applause. Unable to deliberate fairly, having missed the round, Dave has an idea.

“I hate to do this to you fucks, but one more round just for Dave.” – Dave Chappelle

The audience is with it and Moses obliges.

“If you didn’t think they had jokes before…” – Moses

With that, Isak starts the overtime exchange.

“I guess I lied to you. He didn’t get kicked out of college for domestic violence, it was for having an IQ lower than the school zone speed limit.”

There’s a collective groan, and Lou tees off.

“Isak’s band broke up because his lead singer got a third DUI and had to go to jail. The guy literally picked jail over being in a band with Isak.”

Both jokes register in the low-middle range and more or less do an injustice to what preceded them. The audience vote is held and Lou manages to get enough love to keep the victory from falling to Haiti, as does in a double-loss.

Finally, after a little Pat Regan, we’re set for the evening’s headline bout between Rich Slaton and Alex Duong.

“As a kid, Alex was jumped into a Mexican gang. His street name is MSG-13.”

“Thank you, John Mellen-Fat-Camp. Rich, the only fans you’ll ever have are the ones keeping you from sweating while you eat.”

“Thank you, Kung Powerbottom.”

“You’re welcome, Limp Biscuit and Gravy”

“You might recognize Alex from MTV’s ‘Is That Really a Guy Code.’”

“Coming from a guy who has the body of a mascot and the face of every guy inside a mascot.”

“Alex is Vietnamese and Chinese. A lot of his family was killed by agent orange-chicken.”

“Rich looks like what it feels like to get fired from a toll booth.”

Alex takes a fairly decisive vote in the first round, despite some love for Slaton from the judges. Jeff has a few pointers for Rich, instructing him to loosen up a bit and Chappelle commends Alex for using fewer puns. Rich defers to Alex for the opening of the second round.

“It feels good to be here with Connor McGravy. Rich broke both his legs in college wrestling. They called the finishing move ‘comedy’ because that also left him unable to support himself.”

“Rich spent a lot of time in the octagon. Everyone here can tell by the way your career stays in a chokehold.”

“You’re a comedian who also does MMA commentary? Did you steal that out of Joe Rogan’s car when you parked it for him, you car-parking bitch!?”

Alex comes through with a flawless round and the onus is on Rich to earn at least a push for a third round.

“Alex wants to be a character actor, but his only character is ‘Guy With No Future In Acting.’”

The first joke falters and it suddenly seems possible that Alex might take the night in two rounds.

“Alex calls himself a pussy hound, which is ironic because his favorite food is hound pussy.”

Despite being a fairly solid joke, the line lands as a dud to the audience. Rich doesn’t seem to be getting a fair shake from the crowd, but he stays in the pocket and presses on. Jeff jumps in to counsel, telling Rich to make eye contact with Alex as he says his closer. Rich continues.

“Alex looks like an Asian caveman—”

Jeff cuts him off mid-delivery.

“Look at him! Look at him!”

“I’m looking at him! Alex looks like an Asian caveman, or – as scientists call him – ‘The Missing Chink’”

In spite of the disruption from Jeff, Slaton gets a pop at calling Alex a chink, but it’s hardly enough to turn the round in his favor after beginning with two duds to Alex’s zero. After some deliberation (and a “chink” chant), the decision is made that there will be a third round, but Rich has all but lost.

“Alex loves doing karaoke. His favorite song is ‘Dude Looks Like a Ladyboy.’”

“Thank you, Step-Poppa Roach. Rich looks like his first-born child will come out of a t-shirt cannon.”

“This bitch looks like someone unwrapped a mummy.”

“Rich is fifty percent Jewish and fifty percent white, which means he spends a hundred percent of his time asking, ‘Why can’t I say the N-word?’”

“As a Jew, I would love to take Alex to see the concentration camps. But even seeing that horror up close wouldn’t be enough to open his eyes.”

“Rich will die a penniless Jew. After his eventual suicide, his parents will bury him in a Coinstar of David.”

The judges all agree that the closer from Slaton was the best joke of the night, and would be enough to win the round but not the whole fight. Had Jeff not interrupted the closer in round two, Rich still would’ve had a tough time getting a decision after opening the round with back to back duds, but it’s conceivable he could have pulled the win. Still, Alex had an impressive night from start to finish, and an overall win would have been pretty hard to deny. With that, we wrap up another week at Roast Battle, and we’ll see you fuckers again next week.

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 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.

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