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by Pat Barker

For the month of October, I will be making a new Top Ten Roast Battle list every week. This week’s subject: ten battlers I’d like to see battle more often.

Competing in a Roast Battle is a grueling task. The amount
of preparation necessary to put on a quality performance is insane –
competitors often write in excess of one hundred jokes, even for undercards
where only three will be used. One must devote countless hours to researching,
writing, and rehearsing, all for a performance that will often take a grand total
of about ten minutes. For some battlers, these are sacrifices they’re willing
to make every single month to experience the rush of that bloodthirsty Belly
Room crowd. For others, a recovery period is necessary after each fight. And
for a select few battlers, their past success isn’t enough to warrant doing it
regularly at all. For various reasons, they don’t step in the ring nearly as
often as some of their counterparts, and the result is a loss for the fans. I
can’t fault anyone for not battling frequently enough, as I know the rigors of
the show. But I wanted to be selfish for a moment, and dedicate a column to ten
battlers that I would love to see engage in verbal violence more often.

Tre Stewart

One of the early favorites of the Roast Battle, Tre Stewart
put on some of the best battles in the formative days of the show. The former
door guy was most recently seen losing a main event to Stuart Thompson last
year, and hasn’t competed since. Despite the loss in that battle (the first
round of which is featured in episode four of the Verbal Violence podcast), Tre
delivered some truly great and creative jokes. At a time where an unprecedented
number of newcomers are making their debuts, the return of a seasoned battle
vet who understands the show would be a welcome change of pace. Fortunately,
that will be happening sooner rather than later, as a Tre Stewart vs. Jay Light
undercard has been confirmed for later this year.

Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt actually battles at a reasonable rate (four of
them in the last year or so), so this choice is more a testament to the quality
of his performances than anything else. While many battlers fall into the same
types of predictable deliveries and cadences that have traditionally
accompanied roast jokes, Mike is a truly unique voice. His calm demeanor and
smooth delivery don’t usually lend themselves to such an aggressive show, but
Mike’s jokes are brutal enough to make it work extraordinarily well. Following
his last two battles (absolute destructions of Heather Marulli and Madison
Sinclair) will be difficult, but I hope to see him back soon to try and run his
record to 5-0.

Felicia Folkes

Sometimes a new battler shows up and takes a while to create
a buzz. They do it through a series of consistent performances and an elevation
in quality of opponents. Other times, somebody shows up, kicks the door down,
sets the room on fire, and walks away with everyone asking, “who the fuck was that?!” Felicia Folkes did the latter.
Her May debut against Nicole Becannon was one of the best efforts I’ve ever
seen out of a first-timer, and despite her win we’ve yet to see her since.
While Nicole has moved on and put in two other great fights, Felicia faded into
the background a little bit. Speaking on behalf of everyone who was at the
Comedy Store on that early May night, we’re overdue for Felicia’s encore
performance.

Sina Amedson

Sina’s “Saudi Prince” alter ego is a legitimate superstar in
the Roast Battle arena, but he makes most of his waves from a front row seat. I
want to see more of the long-time comedy veteran on the stage, whether it’s
under his given name or that of his made-up character. The only two Sina battles
over the last year were both wins – one against promising newcomer Nat Baimel,
and another as the Prince against fellow gimmick Skippy Greene. While I was initially
skeptical of a “character battle” (and, frankly, skeptical about the Saudi
Prince in general), I’ve never been happier to have been proven wrong. Both the
men behind the masks destroyed that night and made me believe that there should
absolutely be more Saudi Prince battles in the future. Failing that, some Sina
Amedson battles would also be nice. Sina’s a Roast Battle vet with a 4-5 record
and a win over yours truly. Here’s hoping we see either side of this split
personality get back in the ring soon.

Rich Slaton

Much like Tre Stewart, Rich Slaton was very active in the early
days of the show. He’s scaled back since then, materializing only for a first-round
tournament loss to Joe Dosch last year and an undercard win over Frank Castillo
a few months back, but his joke writing remains top notch. Add in his flair for
dramatic theatrical entrances, and you get someone with the potential to be one
of the best battlers around, should he choose to follow that path. Rich has
sometimes presented himself as someone who’s lukewarm about battling, but as
someone who is a big fan of his work on that stage, I hope that something gives
him the motivation to come back and chop some heads off.

Ashley Barnhill

Ashley Barnhill got a raw deal from Roast Battle fans. There,
I said it. If you weren’t around during the early parts of 2015, I will recap
her situation as best I can remember it. She debuted against Janelle Santa Cruz
and destroyed, and followed that up with a convincing with over Barbara Gray (I
may have those two battles backwards chronologically). One of the wins happened
in front of Dave Chappelle during his first trip to the Battle, and Ashley
generated a lot of buzz as a result. Her next move was curious, as she started
taking battles literally every week with no-names she thought she could run
over, almost all of whom had an obvious physical or developmental issue that
Ashley would center her attack around. She ran her record to 6-0 with this
string of largely unimpressive victories, and the Barnhill Backlash began. It
culminated when she faced off with Olivia Grace for Jason Reitman’s Sundance
film and took a vicious loss, harping on Olivia’s weight entirely too much
while getting pummeled. She wasn’t exactly likeable in the loss, openly
criticizing the audience for laughing at Olivia’s jokes at one point, and she
hasn’t been in an LA Roast Battle since. So yeah, she made some miscalculations
with both battle and joke selection. But anyone acting like she wasn’t
absolutely lethal at her peak isn’t being honest with themselves. Ashley’s
stand-up career has been going swimmingly and there may not be the motivation
to get back into the Tuesday night Roast Battle grind, but I’d love to see her
have one more fight against a top competitor, just to remind people what she’s
capable of.

Brendan Lynch

Over a span of a few months at the beginning of 2015, I
battled on the same card as Brendan twice. Back then the show used to feature
double main events, and both times my battle was the opener for his. I was able
to watch both of his battles while unwinding from the stresses of my own, and
both times I left very impressed with his writing. The first of those fights
was a loss to Alex Hooper that featured some jokes Hooper still quotes amongst
his favorites ever used against him. The last was a dominant win over Dan
Lawler in April, and he hasn’t battled since. The 18 months off have been quite
eventful for Brendan, as he was featured in the highly respected “New Faces”
showcase at the Montreal Comedy Festival and landed a job writing for “Any Given
Wednesday With Bill Simmons”. I work alongside Brendan on the latter project,
and over the past six months of daily interactions I’ve become convinced that
he’s one of the funniest people on the planet. Whether or not that humor will
ever return to the Roast Battle remains to be seen, but the show will certainly
be better off if it does.

Liz Stewart

Speaking of people who battled on the same cards I have, Liz
Stewart took on Leah Knauer before my battle with Alex Duong last year. What
resulted was one of the greatest undercards in the show’s history (the winner
of that year’s Best Undercard Roastie award) – a brutal, vicious slugfest that
Liz pulled out in overtime. And just like that, she disappeared. Gone. No
mention of her battling ever again. I can’t imagine trying a new thing, having
it go as well as humanly possible, and then never doing it again… but that’s
what happened. Where have you gone, Liz Stewart? Come back and battle again.
You might even get another Roastie out of it.

Jeff Sewing

Much like Mike Schmidt earlier, Jeff battles
semi-frequently. With a 3-0-1 record, he’s delivered some of the best jokes in
the history of the show. However, I’d love to see him up there more often. Jeff’s
one of my favorite writers and delivers consistently great performances, but
perhaps his greatest asset is how much fun it looks like he’s having at all
times up there. He’s just a lot of fun to watch, and an undefeated record with
a fight card of Leah Kayajanian, Adam Feuerberg, Jonathan Rowell, and Ramsey
Badawi is extremely impressive. Much like Tre Stewart, Jeff will be returning soon to go up against Jay Light. Jay must be flattered that he has enough negative attributes to make people come out of the woodwork and step back in the ring. Keep up the good work, Jay.

Jeremiah Watkins

This one might be cheating, since he’s never
battled before. But come on, man. Enough is enough. Give me Jeremiah vs. Jamar
or give me death. Everyone knows that Jeremiah’s one of the most hilarious
people in the Los Angeles comedy scene, but could that translate into roasting?
Yes, of course, don’t be dumb. I saw Jeremiah roast as Kurt Cobain at the
Historical Roast, and he demolished. There is no doubt in his mind that if and
when he ever decides to step up from the Wave seats and take someone on, that
person will be in a lot of trouble. The idea seems far-fetched, but in a year
where Donald Trump may become president and the Chicago Cubs may become World
Series champions, anything is possible.

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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