Moses says it all the time: “This isn’t easy.” And tonight is proof of that, as half of the battles end in silence and confusion and the other half blow the roof off the Belly Room. So it goes at Roast Battle. After being a Comedy Store staple for more than a few years now, the joke writing and performance has to be next-level to wake this crowd up. No more run-of-the-mill battling – that simply doesn’t move the needle any more. Future battlers, take note.
The crowd seems hyped up from the get-go, giving Boon Shok-A-Lok-A a rare standing ovation and chanting “BATTLE!” at the top of their lungs alongside Autistic Thunder. But the first battle, which pits perpetual loser Abraham Boche against Roast Battle virgin Seth Lawrence, quickly drains that energy.
“I’ve always wondered what it was like to battle a homosexual Mormon.” – Abraham Boche
“For the record, not gay.” – Seth Lawrence
The silence is deafening and immediate, and tonight’s judges – Jeff Ross, Morgan Murphy, and Alex Edelman – have to get to work right off the bat keeping the energy alive.
“This looks like From Dusk Til Dawn versus Reservoir Dogs.” – Jeff Ross
“You guys all look like a billboard…for cultural tolerance on public transportation.” – Morgan Murphy
Seth steps up and agrees to go first.
“If Abraham played football, he’d be a lineman. But he’s so gay, I’d call him a wide receiver anyway.”
“Fuck you, bitch. You look like you came dressed for your funeral anyway, motherfucker. Seth Lawrence looks like a gayer Jeffrey Dahmer. The only reason why he kills men is so he can eat their dick.”
Completely glossing over the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer was gay and did kill men so he could eat their dicks, the only reason this joke gets laughs is from Seth’s deadpan muttering of “Wow. That’s dark. Wow. Interesting. Wow.” He starts in on another joke and pulls out a copy of The Book of Mormon:
“I believe in this book, alright? Which was translated using a hat and magic stones. And Abraham’s jokes are the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Fuck you, bitch.”
Right here, something remarkable happens: Seth’s joke, which elicits a solid crowd reaction, gets steamrolled by Abraham’s simple retort. The laughs double. Abraham continues, unfazed:
“I seen you munching on a foot on the way up here. You got toenails in your teeth, bitch.”
“Wow, you really did your homework!” – Jeff Ross
“You look like if Jeffrey Dahmer and Dave Letterman had an illegitimate baby.”
“Or any kind of baby, really.” – Jeff Ross
“You suck dick late night, bitch.”
It’s hard to tell at first whether the crowd is laughing at Abraham or with him, but as Jeff fires off shots from the VIP section, it becomes apparent whose side they’re on.
“Abraham’s comedy career and his son have a lot in common, alright? They both started by accident, I’m surprised they’ve lasted this long, and they’d both do better if they were adopted by someone like me.”
“Seth is a stay-at-home dad. Him and his husband had to play rock, paper, butt darts to figure out who’s going to stay home and wash the dishes.”
“What are you on about this gay stuff, dude? You’ve met my wife!”
“I have not met your wife.”
“DO YOUR RESEARCH!” – Autistic Thunder
Seth brings the heat for his last joke, while Abraham continues to flounder and confuse the crowd, who is still trying to figure out what the fuck “butt darts” are as the judges get going.
“Why did you move away from ‘fuck you bitch’? It was the only thing that popped in your first two jokes!… I wish you could both be 0-4 now.” – Alex Edelman
“This is difficult for the wrong reasons.” – Morgan Murphy
“I feel like it would have been funnier if you just read The Book Of Mormon…Abraham, I don’t know why you keep coming back.” – Jeff Ross
Neither do we, Jeff. Seth winds up winning in a walk…
“Who’s ready for their first Roast Battle?” – Moses
…and we move on to what, on paper, seems like a great matchup: Brian McDaniel versus Julian Fernandez. And yet, the crowd isn’t feeling this one from the jump either. Julian and Brian take shots at each other in their intros, but they don’t move the needle for the crowd. They soldier on regardless, with former Rookie of the Year Brian taking the first swing.
“Julian looks like someone Mel Gibson would cast to sell out his own people.”
“Speaking of casting, you look like you’re ready to play Tom Hanks at the end of Philadelphia.”
“Julian is so forgettable, even Brody didn’t remember his name.”
“Brian and his wife adopted their daughter from Mexico. The happiest moment was when they brought her home and let her out of her cage.”
“Julian performs a lot in San Diego. They lost their football team, but they still love watching big, dumb Samoans.”
“Honestly, I’m very happy that me and Brian get to battle. I think everyone’s gonna know your name one day. You have a face for Netflix… murder documentaries.”
After starting out okay, this battle gets very sad, very quickly. Nobody seems to know how to respond to this.
“I’m just glad no one’s Jewish up there.” – Alex Edelman
“Yeah, because your jokes are killing…” – Brian McDaniel
Brian’s jab brings the crowd to life again, but it’s not enough to save him.
“This looks like a garage sale of comedians.” – Jeff Ross
“I like that we’re taking it slow tonight.” – Morgan Murphy
“Jeff, who do you like in this one?” – Moses
“Whoever’s next.” – Jeff
The judges vote for Brian, the crowd votes for Julian, and we can mercifully move on to the two tournament matches tonight. First up, we’ve got Roast Battle’s favorite heroin addict, Dan Nolan, taking on Roast Battle’s favorite trans gal, Robin Tran.
Dan steps on stage with pep in his step after a long time away from the ring.
“I’m four years sober next month… It’s the perfect matchup. We’ve both had some major changes in our lives the last few years, and we both have penises.”
Robin strides onstage, smiling and looking battle-ready.
“He’s the only straight white male I have more privilege than.”
The crowd is immediately more on board. They know they’re dealing with pros, especially after Moses reminds everyone of the stakes: the winners of this tournament will earn the right to perform on the road as part of Roast Battle’s Red State Tour (which kicks off tonight in Austin, TX at South by Southwest). Robin opts to go first, and we’re off.
“Dan is an addict. He’s been on everything… except television.”
“Robin’s personality is a lot like her cock: it doesn’t come off the way she wants it to.”
“Dan looks like the only guy on To Catch A Predator whose face was blurred out ‘cuz he was too ugly.”
“A lot of people get uncomfortable at the idea of sharing a bathroom with Robin, because she looks like she has a gross diet.”
“Dan, you look like if Inspector Gadget lost his job.”
“Robin is no longer allowed to serve in the military, which makes sense. She clearly can no longer be relied on to complete a major operation.”
“Dan’s mother is a nurse, and her son is an RN: A raping nincompoop.
Robin’s joke misfires, but she’s such a pro, her followup saves the awkward tension.
“I don’t give a fuck, I like that joke a lot!”
“Back when Robin was still a dude – or, you know, whatever, you know what I mean – back when Robin was still a dude, she actually got fired from her job for harassing a female co-worker. The HR department was like, ‘we believe women!’ And Robin was like, ‘that gives me an idea!’
“Dan also got fired for harassment! I don’t have a joke for that, I just wanted you to know.”
“To be fair, you didn’t have a joke for much of anything.”
This exchange lights the room ablaze. The crowd goes nuts, the Wave comes out, and it feels like it’s been years since the first two battles.
“Dan, I know you get sad that all your friends got on TV before you. But that’s not true. None of us consider you our friend.”
“Robin still has not gotten the surgery. Robin, you’re an Asian woman. If you just want your dick to get cut off, drive – have – drive in front of it in traffic. Ah, wait, ah, I fucked it up. I was doing good!”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, can you say that again?”
Moses opts to give Dan another shot, despite his protests. Instead, Dan takes another swing with a different joke.
“You know, I don’t even know why Robin wants the surgery. She’s Asian, it all just gets blurred out anyway.”
Dan saves a little bit of face here after his stumble, but it doesn’t even matter. The judges know he won fair and square. They offer up plenty of praise to both battlers, but Dan walks away with the win.
Finally, Joe Eurell and Keith Carey take the stage, ready to rumble for road dates.
“The last battle was the geek and the bearded lady, let’s keep the freak show going!” – Keith Carey
Joe volunteers for Keith to go first, and Keith obliges.
“I’m a huge fan of Joe. Not his comedy – his work as the tambourine player in Chuck E. Cheese’s animatronic band.”
“Thank you Keith has a great online presence, he’s on iTunes, Patreon, and Megan’s Law.”
“Joe’s really proud of his Irish heritage, which is why his voice sounds like a fuckin’ bagpipe. Seriously, Joe, every time you talk, I feel like I’m at a cop’s funeral.”
“I do need my roommate to carry me up the stairs, but Keith needs his roommates to carry his career.”
“Joe, I have a very serious question. Why do you always look like you’re falling off a building in slow-motion?”
“The same reason you always look like you’re about to fall over backwards.”
“Hang on. I’m being called unhealthy by a man who looks like the Grim Reaper follows him around going ‘I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you…'”
“Because he knows better.”
The crowd goes insane. They’re watching two top fighters go joke-for-joke with no slowdown, and Joe’s off-the-cuff rebuttal sends them over the edge. But Keith, always in the moment, has the perfect response.
“That doesn’t mean anything, he just said it fast!”
“Keith has better feet than I do, but I’m going to keep mine longer than he will.”
The crowd chants “DIABETES! DIABETES!” Moses holds up a number two from the sidelines.
“Two more?” – Keith
“No, Type II.” – Moses
The crowd loses it again. Keith, throwing up his hands, stays in the pocket.
“What, he gets the parking spot and a fucking assistant? Holy shit, I liked you better when you were a field host, Moses. Joe has the face of Pete Davidson, and the body of Pete Davidson’s dad.”
“Speaking of buildings that are coming down, Keith bangs rich men on their roofs. Because they’re the only ones who can afford the insurance to have Keith on top of their house.”
“Joe is part Native American. His tribe lived at Wounded Knee, And Leg, And Arms, And Spine, And Dick, Probably.”
“The Trail of Tears – this isn’t my joke – but the Trail of Tears in Keith’s family was when his mother decided not to get an abortion. Y’know, Keith signed up for Grindr because he thought it would be a great way to meet up with local sandwiches.”
The battle is too hot to be judged off a mere five jokes. The judges, now joined by Tony Hinchcliffe, all want to see more. Joe takes the mic first for overtime.
“Keith used to work at Disneyland, which is great, because he could play Ursula without the costume.”
“That’s absolutely true. I did work at Disneyland. And all I can think when I look at Joe is (singing) it’s a cruel world, after all, it’s a cruel world after all… “
Keith’s rebuttal doesn’t have a follow-up.
“(spoken) That’s it, I sang for you idiots.”
The judges are divided once again. Moses reminds them that they have to pick a winner. Jeff and Morgan both vote for Joe, while Alex and Tony elaborate on their admiration for Keith’s strategy choice to use a rebuttal instead of a proper joke, sending the battle to double overtime. Keith is up first once more.
“Joe, you salty pretzel. This is what happens when you let a retarded kid put a Transformer together.”
“Keith mentioned my Native American heritage, and I am Native American. 12,000 people died on the Trail of Tears. That’s, like, half as many stepfathers as Keith has had.”
The crowd is now divided, with people alternately yelling “one more joke!” and “one less joke!” while Coach Tea tries to get everyone to do a tomahawk chop. But everyone is too antsy now, especially since neither of the jokes that were just told got big pops. It is decided that they’ll do one final sudden death overtime. Joe goes first.
“Keith is really great. Keith looks like he shows his support for the LGBT community by being a parade float.”
“Joe is actually not only a comedian, he’s a very talented painter. Which makes, sense, because every day he looks in the mirror and sees a Picasso.”
“That’s a great art joke, by the way.”
The judges panel throws their hands up.
“I think we should go to the top of the hill and roll both of them off.” – Tony Hinchcliffe
The Roastmaster General suggests that the audience, for having sat through the triple overtime they demanded, be given the deciding vote.
“You know, fuckin’, Morgan’s not gonna make up her mind.” – Jeff Ross
“Hey, I’m not indecisive, it’s just that I talk slow and I like people.” – Morgan Murphy
The suggestion winds up being a bad one, as the audience vote is evenly split across multiple attempts to get a solid result. Moses revokes their privileges, and throws it to the judges one more time.
“Keith.” – Alex Edelman
“…Keith.” – Morgan Murphy
“That’s it, I love being the bad guy. It’s Keith all the way, baby!” – Tony Hinchcliffe
After a record-length deliberation, Keith moves on to the next round. Next week, we’ll be back with more tournament matches, and hopefully a few undercards that don’t make the room feel uncomfortable from the jump. But you’ll have to come by to find out.
Follow @RoastBattle on Twitter for all the latest updates, subscribe to our podcast, check out our Instagram and Facebook pages for the latest pictures from our fights, and watch live on Periscope at 11:30 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.