I’ve been hanging out at the Roast Battle for almost the entire time the show has been in existence, and there are still few things I get as excited for as when Boon Shok-A-Laka’s theme music starts playing over the Belly Room speakers. It’s the first of many times the crowd sees something they won’t see at any other LA comedy show. Their faces say, “who the hell is this homeless…guy?…in drag lip-syncing Proud Mary and telling jokes pulled straight from Larry Flynt’s Laffy Taffy stash?” but their laughter says, “who cares, this shit is hilarious!” Little do the newbies know what else they’re in for as the show goes on.
And, boy, was last night a primo show or what? Despite a judging mix-up that saw Theo Von filling in for an absent Godfrey, the show chugged along like a Mad Max war rig, unstoppable in the capable hands of its crew. The All-Negro Wave (now with less Negroes) was rockin’ out and tossing glitter. The All-Rainbow Wave offered up a bout between Floyd Gayweather and Fanny Pack-Me-Now. Coach Tea dropped hot beats and hotter sound cues, and the House Haters batted cleanup, keeping the room in check by reminding them that, no, they definitely couldn’t come up with anything better than their particular flavor of vitriol.
The judges, as usual, had no problem bringing the house down in between rounds. Theo Von lamented sacrificing valuable sex time to come judge the Battle, Jason Reitman killed with the world’s edgiest dad jokes, and the Roastmater General Jeff Ross brought his signature mix of venom and encouragement back after some time away from his regular spot on the panel. And, as usual, he had nothing but well-deserved praise for Brian Moses, the conductor of this symphony of verbal violence.
As Boon leaves the stage, Moses asks us all to rise for the national anthem. The room is on its feet immediately, hands over their hearts. The back of my neck bristles with goosebumps. The best live show in Los Angeles is underway yet again.
The first bout of the night: Chicago transplant and new dad Ryan Budds vs. NorCal native and roast reporter Josh Waldron. This three-round intro match showcases both writers’ creativity, with the jokes covering a wide swath of topics:
“Ryan started comedy in Chicago, but he bombs so much there they started calling it Chiraq.” – Josh, Round 1
“I’m not sure what race Josh is but I’m positive he lost.” – Ryan, Round 1
“Ryan’s sister-in-law is also a comedian. She has the bigger career but he has the bigger pussy.” – Josh, Round 2
“If Josh were any more flaming, he’d be a fajita plate at the restaurant he gets paid to clean up.” – Ryan, Round 2
“Ryan’s a huge pro wrestling fan. His daughter is too. It’ll be sad when he has to explain to her that his comedy career is fake” – Josh, Round 3
“Josh is so into Harry Potter he’s cast an invisibility cloak over his entire career.” – Ryan, Round 3
Yet, despite both battlers holding their own, you can sense they’re still a little green. Ryan almost loses the first round on a technicality when he steamrolls Josh and tells three jokes in a row. Josh garbles his words a few times, and outright flubs what was supposed to be his final joke of the final round. The judges urge them both to come back again, but, in the end, give the decision in this bout to Budds. His ballsy, original material is perfectly summed up in his closer from round three:
“Josh is the blogger for this show. I’m gonna help you with tomorrow’s write up, Josh. Here’s a picture of me beating you.” – Ryan Budds, taking a selfie and the fight in one swift move.
Before we know it, the moment we’ve been waiting for arrives: reigning champ Alex Hooper vs. poised challenger Joe Dosch. The battlers each enter with flair and a posse – Joe flanked by the All-Rainbow Wave, Alex by a trio of monsters that looked like benchwarmers for the bad guys in Space Jam – and start taking potshots at each other before the opening bell rings. The crowd whoops. The title fight is underway.
“Alex is so ugly, when he goes to a glory hole, the guy on the other side just wants to be friends.” – Joe
“You’re so bad at comedy that if they made your life into a movie it would still have no credits.” – Alex
“You look like you have AIDS but like no one would ever give it to you.” – Joe
“Joe looks great in drag. But What makes him truly believable as a woman is how he never shuts his fucking mouth.” – Alex
The tense first round goes to Joe, though Jeff Ross pointed out that both battlers seem a little in their heads. He advises them to loosen up, but admits he knows we’re all in for a phenomenal battle once the contenders shake the rust off. Then he and Alex start bantering back and forth. Then Jeff Ross takes his shirt off and flings it to the ground.
The crowd goes apeshit. Moses takes the stage to control the chaos.
Round two is fiery. Joe rattles off five insults in his allotted 30 seconds, each meaner than the last:
“Alex’s girlfriend got a pug because she wanted to take care of two wrinkle faced animals with breathing problems.”
“If Alex were gay, he’d be a bottom. Of the barrel.”
“You look like someone halfway opened the Ark of the Covenant.”
But Alex comes back hard, ready with brilliantly-worded attacks of his very own:
“The only two things astronauts can see from space are the Great Wall of China and Joe’s giant cum-soaked chin.”
“Joe doesn’t give head, he keeps it all for himself.”
“In high school, Joe was voted most likely to suck seed.”
And despite an emotionally-charged usage of the word “faggot” to close the round out, the judges give Alex the round, with Jeff Ross pointing out that it was essentially his Greg Giraldo moment: when the hype of the show and the thrill of being mean overtakes your planned material. The crowd clamors for round three as the judges steady themselves in their seats.
The boys fire back and forth one final time, fiercely throwing out haymakers:
“Your face looks like the moon in a silent movie.” – Joe
“I don’t know who’s a bigger asshole: you, or your asshole.” – Alex
“You look like a janitor for the lizard people who control the world.” – Joe
“People say Joe is smug. But when you give that many rimjobs it’s impossible to not have a shit-eating grin.” – Alex
“Alex is from Baltimore. He’s the ashiest man from a city crackheads burned down.” – Joe
“I’m from Baltimore, but Joe’s family’s from Germany. Later, I want to cum in your mouth so you know how it feels for six million to die right under your nose.” – Alex
The round ends. It’s decision time. Jason Reitman votes for Joe.
“You started as a bottom, now you’re here!” – Jason Reitman
Theo Von votes for Alex.
“I could be fucking this Filipina girl right now.” – Theo Von
The Roastmaster General has the decision in his hands. Contemplating his vote, he gives the mic to Hannibal Buress, who reminds us all of the importance of this show:
“We just witnessed a moment in history – the first time a white guy ever called another white guy ashy.”
Jeff praises both battlers on their skill, and, as he gives his vote – and the title – to Joe, Moses takes the mic and tells everyone to stand up for these two fine performers.
The crowd is on its feet once more, faster than they were for the Star-Spangled Banner, as the fighters hug.
Then, as quickly as it started, the show ends. The crowd disperses to the parking lot. The room is empty, save for the confetti and silly string on stage, the waitress bussing tables, and Coach Tea dismantling his turntables. It’s a quarter to one in the morning. It’s your average Tuesday night.
JOKE OF THE NIGHT: “If Josh were any more flaming, he’d be a fajita plate at the restaurant he gets paid to clean up.” – Ryan Budds
I’m 2-3 in picks now, Josh. Not that you’re counting.