Roast Battle is back tonight with a stacked lineup composed of exclusively veteran practitioners of verbal violence coming together for three fire undercards and a triple main event set to lock the semifinals for this year’s tournament.
Overseeing the carnage from behind the VIP section’s velvet rope will be Clayton English, Amin Elhassan, Jeff Ross, and Mike Lawrence. Clayton is a veteran of Roast Battle Season 2’s Denver Regionals and the winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2014, while Amin is a sports commentator on ESPN. Both have also judged previously and should be well-versed in the ins and outs of comedy combat. Mike and Jeff also bring their years of experience and always sharp roast-related insight to the table, with Mike’s Season 1 champion’s trophy still shining brightly and Jeff’s Roastmaster General regalia fresh from the dry cleaners after a week of headlining Caroline’s on Broadway.
First up in the undercards, two of Roast Battle’s most up-and-coming-est up-and-comers – Zach Stein and Armando Torres – face off.
Both now relatively seasoned veterans of the undercards, Zach and Armando are fairly formidable against one another. Armando is incredibly likable on stage, clearly cares about the show and works hard to do well at it, all of which are commendable traits. Alternatively, Zach Stein pretty consistently seems to arrive on stage like he was just reminded he’s on the show that day when someone tagged him in this blog post on Facebook. That more carefree approach is equally as enjoyable to see and easy to root for. While Armando’s 4-0 record against Zach’s 5-4 record might mean something more in any other game, consistency isn’t necessarily of greater value than experience here. Though it’s not the case in this matchup per se – the record books in this verbal bloodsport hold plenty of losses that are better than a lot of other wins. Roast Battle hits the reset button each time a competitor walks on stage.
After that, another 4-0 contender, Brett Erickson, is buttin’ heads with a man who seems like he enjoys both butt ‘n head, Josh Waldron.
Identical to the clash preceding it, this is another case of a flawless record up against a more substantive history in the ring. Josh has a long list of losses to his name, though his most recent turn saw him overcome Madison Sinclair in a remarkably strong single-rounder. He also boasts prior main event credibility along with a signature brand of flamboyant charm and charisma that makes him a crowd favorite whatever level he’s playing on, and he tends to step his game up with every new battle. Brett Erickson has had some bright spots of his own but has yet to really put in a breakout performance on any night. His biggest strengths seem to be a knack for ad-libbing, along with a lack of any really roastable features which could prove tough for Josh, who wears his sexual ambiguity on his sleeve. The most common angle that every battler Brett’s been up against so far has been to make fun of him for being Doug Stanhope’s friend, which is ridiculous. Who fucking doesn’t want to be friends with Doug Stanhope? That’s not an insult, it’s definitely an awesome thing we should all be in envy of.
For our evening’s final undercard, Isaac Hirsch takes on Paige Wesley in the battle of pocket protector vs. Hot Pocket protector.
After a year or so of truly remarkable performances, Paige Wesley busted many a bracket with a shocking first-round loss in this year’s Roast Battle Royale, albeit at the hands of some moderately questionable judging. Isaac Hirsch, on the other hand, might be one of Roast Battle’s most undervalued prospects coming into 2018. He’s had some standout fights that should have him on the right track for a little main event action in the not-too-far future if he decides to keep up with the show. These two are both a couple of lovable dorks on stage, so it’ll be interesting to see if either can gain the upper hand on likability.
Moving onto the first of three main events for tonight, we’ve got a battle stretching across to both sides of the border, with Canada’s own Rena Hundert up against Mexican gay guy, Jonathan Rowell.
Jonathan Rowell has made the move from the losingest man in Roast Battle to a solid final four pick in this year’s tournament after a nail-biting overtime win against Sarah Keller that followed his play-in bracket defeat of John-Michael Bond. Rena Hundert has just as clear a shot at taking the whole tourney. With only one defeat to her name and a collection of scalps from some of Roast Battle most elite opponents, her biggest obstacle will be having to ignore whatever crazy shit Mike Schmidt yells at her from the audience. Despite the seriously mismatched win/loss record tipping heavy in Rena’s favor, this is actually a remarkably even battle and could go either way. Both have a number of pretty roastable characteristics that make them fun for each other to write for.
Following that, Katrina Davis shoots for a third straight tourney win against another truly underrated roaster, Bryan Vokey.
Bryan Vokey could probably pretty easily be a top ten battler if he actually gave a shit, but in doing so might lose some of that charm and freedom that comes from careless abandon. Katrina Davis has proven herself a tougher opponent than anyone might have imagined given her humble 2-2 record coming into the tournament, but the same “hey I’m just happy to be here” charm and solid writing that’s carried her this far will be an interesting contrast against the energy of Bryan Vokey. The winner of this matchup will take on the toughest opponent either has seen in Jeff Sewing, who entered as and remains the only undefeated battler in the tournament.
Finally, in our last quarter-final matchup of the season, Ramsey Badawi takes on Tony Bartolone!
This is a battle that was previously on the books well over a year ago but never materialized due to scheduling conflicts. So it makes sense (sort of) to revive Tony’s tournament chances despite his first-round loss to Nicole Becannon who has since bowed out altogether, rather than just simply advancing Ramsey to the semis after his crushing defeats of David Lucas and Quentin Thomas (née Moscaritolo). Also, Tony’s homeless and probably needs the money more than anyone else, so why not? It’ll be fun to see if the 15-month delay helps or hurts the writing, and either way, these are two of Roast Battle’s best looking to score a ticket to the semis, so it couldn’t help but be a bloodbath.
It’s an all-star lineup of some of Roast Battle’s best set to burn down the Belly Room. Let’s roast!
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