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 by Jay Light, photos by Troy Conrad

“I don’t think there’s enough battles tonight.” – Earl Skakel

Roast Battle has been called a lot of things – innovative, hilarious, a church of free speech – but it’s never been known as a show that runs on time. After a few weeks of timeliness becoming a reality, after a wrench was thrown into the pre-show works, the show starts in a rush and the crowd never really gets in sync with the proceedings. While the stand-up comics try mightily, nothing clicks. Roast Battle’s audience is usually tough, but forgiving. Tonight, they’re just tough. Luckily, the slate of eight battles ahead of us looks to break down the wall the audience has built with a battering ram of insults.

First on the docket, we have Andrew Pupa versus Jacob Trimmer. Jacob is new. Even though he’s only been doing stand-up for 10 months, but he’s ready to bring the heat to the ring against the more experienced Andrew.

“A lot of people know that Jews don’t love showers. But Jacob looks like he sure does love bath salts.”

“People just think Andrew is Jewish because his nose looks like a botched circumcision.”

“People might not know this, but Jacob was actually stabbed while driving for an escort service. Don’t worry, the escort was unfazed. She’s used to seeing pussies bleed.”

“Andrew loves the Patriots. That’s why his head looks like Tom Brady deflated it.”

“Some people might say that Jacob’s a rape apologist, but I for one don’t think he’s ever apologized.”

“Andrew looks like his mom paid for booze by pawning his chromosomes.”

After a slow start from both competitors, Andrew coasts to a slow finish, while Jacob picks up steam with every joke, earning praise from the judges and, ultimately, the crowd’s vote too.

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“Which one of you is Jewish? You get my vote.” – Matthew Broussard

Up next is a battle of best friends: Bruce Gray, the pride of Bakersfield, versus lapsed Latter-Day Saint Christian Pieper.

“This looks like two Trump supporters about to kick me out of the RNC.” – Moses

After a few fat jokes are lobbed around the room, the battlers put up their dukes and set in on each other.

“Christian fell in love with his life because he thought her Aspergers sounded delicious.”

“Bruce has an associate’s degree from Taft Community College, where he majored in getting stuck in bathtubs.”

“Christian was the first Mormon to go door-to-door on a Rascal scooter.”

“Bruce Willis was in The Sixth Sense. Bruce Gray has six senses, but two of them are taste.”

“Christian lost his virginity six years ago and his battle with heart disease six months from now.”

“Bruce’s mom is glad he smokes so much weed, because it makes someone else in her family as dumb and fat as she is.”

Christian’s last joke gets “oooooh”s from the crowd, proving a Roast Battle rule of thumb: it’s generally not a good idea to make jokes about the people peripheral to your opponent. Battle your opponent, not your opponent’s family and friends. Unless, of course, you’ve been doing this a long time and you know how to really rip the room apart, like Scott Chaplain and Evan Williams did this past week at our sister show in New York City. In the end, Bruce wins the crowd vote, earning his first-ever Roast Battle victory.

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Next up is a bout between comedy veterans but Roast Battle newbies: Rob O’Reilly versus Andy Haynes. Rob has some experience in the ring, but Andy, as a paid regular at the Comedy Store, boasts home club advantage that serves him well as the fight unfolds.

“Hey guys. Back in New York, Rob pretended to be gay to get on a diversity showcase. Rob, you don’t have to pretend, you eat a dick every night on stage.”

“Speaking of eating dicks, Andy was molested as a kid. I know, it’s surprising. You’d think he’d be funnier.”

“Rob’s wife is a scientist. She’s currently conducting a study on the long-term effects of fucking a loser.”

“Andy suffers from depression. I think it’s from not getting enough sunlight, probably because he’s now living in Alice Wetterlund’s shadow.”

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This joke does okay, but mostly hits with the VIP section and back of the room, who are the people most in the know about Andy’s seven-month-long marriage – and subsequent divorce – from fellow comic Alice. It’s another product of the show’s audience changing from comics to regular people; inside jokes don’t fly quite as well as they used to. Andy, poised, fires back:

“At least I’ve been in something successful.”

The room explodes at the rebuttal. If the crowd didn’t understand Rob’s reference before, they at least get the context now – and Andy gets to reap the reward before moving on to his next proper joke.

“You guys, Rob was raised by a single mother in Cleveland, Ohio after his dad left him. That makes LeBron leaving the Cavs for Miami the second best reason for leaving something in Cleveland.”

“Setup was longer than your marriage.”

“I’ve heard that joke before!” – Earl Skakel

Here, we run into a problem that crops up a few times tonight: a joke being re-used. It’s happened before and given that this show’s been running for three years, it was bound to happen again. Parallel thinking is very easy to come across in the world of Roast Battle. However, this is just more reason for battlers to really strive for creativity, like Rob does with his final joke:

“Andy’s wife left him for a 23-year-old improvisor. What happened? Did you come home and hear ‘YES AND, YES AND! ZIP ZAP ZOP!’”

There is palpable tension on stage after the battle wraps up.

“Somebody might beat the shit out of each other after this!” – Moses

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The judges get some jabs in, and, in the end, Andy ekes it out on the strength of the rebuttal. After a little bit more stand-up, the stage is set for our first-ever lover’s quarrel: Nicole Becannon versus Dan Nolan.

Nicole says she would let the Wave smash, and they do, immediately: Jamar makes out with and dances all up on her. 

“You’re next, Earl!” – Nicole

Ginuwine’s “Pony” plays and Jamar and Earl look like they’re gonna pull their dicks out on stage. Strangely enough, it wouldn’t be the first time that had happened to Nicole in this very room.

“I didn’t mean let the Wave smash right now. Jesus.” – Moses

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Moses asks the obvious question: why battle your ex?

“A lot of people assume I’m out for blood tonight, and I would be, if I wasn’t terrified of whatever’s in Dan’s blood.”

Dan is introduced and Moses asks him the same question.

“This is a terrible idea. I took her virginity and broke her heart.”

Dan, looking poised, volunteers to go first.

“Nicole has resting resting face.”

“Dan had to stop dating black girls because he kept trying to snort the ash off their knees.”

“Nicole has a gay brother, so at least someone in that family knows how to suck a dick.”

“Dan once got drunk and pooped in a washing machine, so just like you, it got clean but it’s still a piece of shit.”

“The reason I broke up with Nicole is because if you love someone, you should let them go…fuck a bunch of black guys.”

“You know, Dan, a lot of people ask if we’ll ever get back together, but you’ll relapse on heroin before I’ll relapse on mediocre dick.”

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The judges offer effusive praise for the way the round turned out, while simultaneously wishing them the best in their dating future:

“I don’t know what’s worse for him, being on heroin or fucking that chick.” – Nick Youssef

“Y’all are cute! That was a good battle. I can’t wait to see the black people you both go on to date.” – Matthew Broussard

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Nicole gets the pick from Jeff and the crowd. Her first victory comes by toppling one of the game’s top battlers. An impressive play! The good times keep rolling with our next competitors, Dakota Freeman and Greg Roque.

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Coach Tea brings Greg on with some inspired intro music: Ludacris’ “Roll Out.”

“Is this Nathan Fielder?” – Jeff Ross

“Hell of a gimmick.” – Earl Skakel

But he’s not done yet: Dakota is introduced to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. After endearing himself to the crowd and taking questions about if he delivered letters to Ulysses S. Grant, the rookies get to slinging jokes:

“Dakota, you look like you’re one bad day away from shooting up your pottery class.”

“A little bit about Greg: he’s Mexican, autistic, paralyzed, and recently broke his leg. He has 99 problems, and probably another one.”

“Dakota, I know I’m the one in the wheelchair, but why do you look like you collect disability checks?”

“Greg has a girlfriend. The only reason why she has sex with him is so she can practice for a roller derby.”

“Dakota’s dad used to dress up as Santa Claus for Christmas, but the only thing Dakota got from Santa’s sack was a facial.”

“Greg was actually paralyzed during a wrestling accident, because the audience told his opponent to give him the wheelchair.”

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The wrestling reference, while clever, is lost on the crowd, who wind up reacting as if the joke is too soon. As the round ends, Jeff sparks this amazing exchange:

“Hater, did you realize he was Mexican?” – Jeff Ross

“I can’t get past the wheelchair. Is he Mexican? Really?” – Earl Skakel

“Yeah. Greg Renteria Roque.” – Brian Moses

“God bless you.” – Earl Skakel

“Does that mean you’re crippled or just too lazy to stand?” – Nick Youssef

When the firing squad weighs in, we learn Jeff and Nick are fans of both battlers. Meanwhile, Matthew wonders about Greg’s legs, and Rick offers a lot of praise for the 99 Problems joke.

“That joke was so funny, you should have done it three times.” – Rick Glassman

Greg, ironically, takes the crowd vote in a walk. A brief musical interlude cleanses our palates before the night’s next matchup: Barbara Gray versus Cornell Reid. 

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Barbara has battled before, but Cornell is a newbie. However, his laid-back demeanor lends itself to an interesting style of delivery as he begins the round:

“Barbara’s pussy’s all fucked up.”

The crowd erupts. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but it’s probably a combo of the languid delivery, the word choice, and the succinctness of the line itself. Cornell continues:

“Barbara’s pussy’s all fucked up. If Trump tried to grab her by the pussy, he’d have to use both hands.”

“He just got booked on SpikeTV.” – Earl Skakel

“Cornell didn’t marry the mother of his child, futher proving how much he really wants to be black.”

“Barbara just got on BET.” – Earl Skakel

“Barbara’s pussy’s all fucked up.”

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Again, the crowd goes wild. After they calm down once more, Cornell continues:

“Her pussy’s all fucked up. It looks more like a Cheesy Gordita Crunch.”

“I’ve always known Cornell to be, like, a somewhat funny guy I see around once in a while. Now I know how his daughter must feel.”

“Barbara’s not much of an actress, but her tits are definitely in SAG.”

This joke is another Roast Battle classic, having been told since the show’s earliest days, introduced into our lexicon by none other than Kim Congdon. In all its forms, it’s a solid joke – though probably one that future battlers should strive to avoid.

“Cornell’s daughter really takes after him, and by that I mean they’re both super unfuckable.”

Rick and Nick praise Cornell’s charisma. Matthew is disappointed that Cornell didn’t stay in the pussy theme, and Jeff calls Barbara’s daughter joke the best of the round. An initial vote is too close to call, so the battlers go to overtime.

“Cornell smokes so much weed, when the nurses wrapped up his baby, he tried to smoke it.”

“Barbara’s so sad and desperate, she once trapped Louis CK in a hotel room.”

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While both jokes get solid pops, Barbara takes the crowd vote in the end. Moses tells the audience their job as judges are done, and brings out tonight’s special undercard between two Chicago transplants: Sean White and Bobby Hill.

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Sean is new to Los Angeles, but has solid roasting chops, having appeared on Road to Roast Battle as one of the Chicago challengers after running their roast battle show Beef for a while. He challenges anyone who wants to appear in a battle against him. Bobby, on the other hand, tells us all he’s just looking to get some reparations. The bell rings.

“You look like a Ninja Turtle in whiteface.”

“I’m happy Sean’s here tonight. We’re all happy Sean’s here tonight. We thought the dude from Dallas Buyer’s Club died of AIDS, but here he stands.”

“Bobby likes to compare himself to Vin Diesel, and I think that’s accurate, because they’re two people I’d pay to see drive off a cliff.”

“Sean’s a great combo. He’s dumb, and into fantasy. So much so that when he lived in Alabama, he joined the Klan because he heard they had a grand dragon.”

“You look like what if Mr. Clean couldn’t figure out what minority they wanted to pander to.”

“Sean is so white, when he goes to Klan meetings, he doesn’t even wear a hood. He just wears a pointy cap.”

“Bobby Hill likes to call himself polyamorous, which is the fanciest word I’ve ever heard for ‘I like to cheat a fuckton.’”

“Sean looks like the white husband in every cuckold video I’ve ever seen.”

“Nothing I can say tonight is ever gonna throw more shade on you than that big-ass underbite.”

“Sean is living proof that you can be poor white trash, a hilbilly living in a trailer park, and as long as you’re Jeff Foxworthy’s son, Hollywood’s still gonna give you a shot.”

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The Wave lets all the air out of a balloon, mirroring the room. While Sean certainly starts out hot, with punchy jokes that land well, by the end, neither battler is getting much from the crowd. 

“I think they both did a good job representing how fucking underwhelming the Chicago comedy scene is.” – Nick Youssef

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The judges try to raise the spirits of the battlers, praising the jokes that worked. The Roastmaster General himself calls them out for being nervous, but encourages them to return more relaxed. In the end, Sean gets the nod from the judges.

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We’re finally at the main event: Doug Fager versus Frank Castillo. After both boys lost at the pop-up Hammer Museum battles, they were looking for an easy victory. However, this battle proved that neither of them were willing to give that up. Scene, take notice: here’s why these two are some of the best in the game.

“Frank is so Mexican, his great-grandmother just turned 37.”

“Doug’s the guy on the swim team who knows how to tell real good when the girl’s asleep.”

“Frank says getting up at the Comedy Store is like going to the gym. But Frank, in both cases, how would you know?”

“Doug is studying improv at UCB so one day he can rape with the best.”

“Frank is more than just a door guy. For seven dollars an hour he’ll also do cabinets and windows.”

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Moses tries to step in before Frank, not realizing he hadn’t gotten his last joke out, and is booed mightily for his mistake.

“Calm down, you know Moses failed math.” – Earl Skakel

“Doug’s fucked so many hookers, his nickname is Can You Break A 20.”

In the end, Doug gets round one. We’re off to round two!

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“Doug’s a ghost writer. Everyone he writes for is haunted by the fact they can’t get their money back.”

“Women have described Doug as handsome, tall, armed and on foot, last seen leaving their bedroom window.”

“Doug doesn’t do drugs. His unsuspecting victims do.”

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“Frank didn’t lose his hair, it’s just too lazy to keep growing.”

“Frank, you look like Jorge Costanza.”

“Frank, your head looks like an old dandelion on a windy day.”

Coach Tea comes in hot to close out this round with the Seinfeld theme song. Despite universal love for the Jorge Costanza joke, Frank wins after turning in a round with no misses. 

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“Frank, you brought in that dirty immigrant work ethic…Doug, you coasted on fuckin’ white privilege, dude.” – Nick Youssef

Round three is inevitable. Frank is chosen to go first. Doug protests, but Frank soldiers on.

“Doug, you’re such an out of touch white guy you thought that Tamir Rice was the lunch special at work.”

“Donald Trump has called Mexicans thieves and rapists. But that’s not fair to Frank. He also sells drugs.

“Doug’s family values the black community, at $350 a head and double for the little ones.”

“Frank, you look like the Cabbage Patch Doll who has to pick the other Cabbage Patch Dolls.”

“Doug’s a big fan of One Tree Hill. Not the show, but the place where his family used to lynch black people.”

“Both of Frank’s parents are mechanics. Frank’s the only broke piece of shit they can’t fix.”

In the wake of this joke, Frank ignores Moses’ previous call for last joke and slips in one more under the wire.

“I’m bald because of genetics. Doug’s losing his hair because women pull it out in self-defense.”

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Doug doesn’t fire back. He doesn’t need to. He wins the round, and the battle. Frank wins praise for putting on the best performance he’s ever done, and the two hug it out. Even though Frank will drop in the ranks, in this battle he seems to be more like the Frank longtime fans of the show are used to seeing in his early days. Confident. Not rushed. Coming in with sharp jokes. Meanwhile, Doug Fager further cements his status as one of the city’s best joke writers, and one of the most dangerous battlers competing right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a stab at the title shot sometime early next year when he can take a crack at whoever is on top.

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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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