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by Anna Valenzuela and Cody Sarvis, photos by Troy Conrad

First impressions are everything. When Tom Goss took me to my
first Roast Battle, I didn’t want to like it. I had judged the show as negative and
cruel but I was willing to check it out. I walked through the kitchen and up the back
steps to a packed, humid room. The air and the energy hit me like tsunami. Boon
was on stage, folks were dancing, the battle chant started and Moses called the
battlers to the stage. A comic turns to me and says, “She’s going to win
because she’s a girl!” My face goes sour. The guys try to explain that women
can’t lose. I felt so conflicted. I wanted her to win and decisively. By the
second round, I was laughing and pounding the walls for the male battler’s
jokes. That was Leah Kayajanian and Doug Fager and she didn’t win that night. 

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The world of comedy is a weird and complicated place when it
comes to women. Folks seem to have emotionally charged opinions about our
successes, failures, and everything in between. Laughs are the great equalizer, and Roast Battle is no exception. With that in mind, why would we subject
aspects of our sex lives, appearance, and families to the slings and pussy
jokes of Roast Battle alongside the men? I interviewed some of the baddest
bitches of the Belly Room to find out. 

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Currently undefeated Rena Hundert captured it perfectly: 

“I
Roast Battle for the challenge and because it helps me improve my joke
composition, stage presence, jokes delivery skills, and because it’s fun!”

Aside from sweating
through a bra up there, what is it like to battle with a vag?

“It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had on stage and yes, of
course, gender is always going to make a difference just like race or any other
noticeable trait. It’s going to affect the way people discuss your battle, the
jokes that are made, and how certain jokes are taken. However, in a way, roast
battle is one of the most equalizing shows there is. Anything can be said about
anyone and nobody is protected due to race or gender.” – Nicole Becannon 

“Audience-wise, I don’t personally notice differences based on
gender.  As in, the audience will
laugh or not laugh based on the joke, and to me, it seems pretty
indiscriminate. On a few occasions, I’ve noticed differences in how the judges
treat female vs. male battlers. 
For example, twice now, I’ve been asked if my feelings were hurt by the
jokes, and once I was asked if I’m going to be okay with a ruling if it’s
against me.  Another time, I was
asked if I was going to cry.  I’ve
never seen anyone say that to a male battler.  It seems like oftentimes, the assumption is that women are
more fragile, but in my experience (in the battle and in life), the opposite is
true. I’m not going to lie, when it comes to gender, shit gets weird.” – Leah
Kayajanian 

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Girl, it can get so weird up there: 

“Every time I battle, a judge tells me they want to fuck me.” – Madison Sinclair 

Madison has been fucked over up there. She has yet to beat a dick in
the Belly Room with her own pussy. She goes on:

“I have only won against
women and they have been big wins. But every time I go against men I lose. The
moment they start telling slut jokes the mood of the room shifts entirely. At
my last battle Mike Schmidt did all slut jokes and they were great jokes, but
the crowd’s mood shifted from what you’d expect to find at a comedy show to one
you’d find at an 18th century public raping. People from the audience yelling
at me to suck their dick. Take off my clothes.”

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Before your Diva Cups overflow and you fire up the blog,
remember: it’s a game we signed up for. It’s a forum for all comics to get down
and dirty —nothing
is off limits. 

“I fucking hate how PC the world is trying to be right now. I
have a really dark sense of humor. My whole life I’ve been known for saying
inappropriate things at the wrong time. I finally found a place where it’s
always the right time to say the most fucked up shit.” – Lindsey Jennings

Once, men chanted for me to show my tits. I flipped the room double birds, and the room roared. Nothing felt more Riot Grrl than that. You can beat back the mob and, frankly, the
fuckboys love the flogging.

What is the difference
between a “Battle of The Sexes” and a “Catfight”?

“I have battled both men and women and battling men can be
difficult because it automatically becomes a gender war.” – Jeanne Whitney 

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Some battles are pitched that way. When there are other
differences like race, my experience has been, the battle’s focus shifts from
gender but is always present. When it’s two ladies the room can explode because
there is an expectation that ladies might actually claw each other’s eyes out.

“I’ve only ever battled one woman, Olivia Grace, but I battled
her twice.  The first time, the Roast Report deemed it ‘a cataclysmic catfight,’ and during the roast, Jeff
Ross said, ‘Wow, you guys must really hate each other.’  That was pretty weird to me.  I didn’t write jokes for Olivia any
differently than I would for a man, and I don’t think she did, either.  Again, when women battle, it’s
perceived like there’s real aggression and cruelty behind it; when men battle,
everyone accepts it as a joke. 
That constantly annoys the fuck out of me.  I asked to battle Olivia because I thought she was funny,
and I knew that together we would put on a good show, and I think we both
proved me right.” -Leah Kayajanian

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When it’s all said and
done and the unlucky door guy is scooping up the wreckage of the Wave, does a
lady’s participation in Roast Battle change things?

“Yes.” – Leah Kayajanian

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Leah Kayajanian has more than earned her Roast Battle accolades and she has the stand-up chops to back it up. She continues:

“Simply put, people know me more. I got a TV credit, and I
get respect in the roast community. 
I sometimes wonder if roasting negatively affects the perception of me
in the comedy community because I spend so much time on that, and I don’t want
people to forget that I’m also a standup.” 

Has anyone discussed
your performance with you on the basis of your gender?

Every. Fucking.
Time. I’m a better writer than most men, So I actually find it pretty insulting
when people start giving me handicaps I never asked for.” – Madison Sinclair 

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What’s the aftermath
when shit gets weird up there?

“I untagged myself from the report. I have family on my
Facebook. You think I want them reading about people saying I’m a slut in a
blog? I told myself I’d never do another Roast Battle but I did.” – Jeanne
Whitney 

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In spite of the weirdness, women come back for more. In the last
year the number of women with roast battle careers have seen a dramatic
increase.

So is it true that women
battlers win more than men? What are the battle stats for women.

To answer this, I turned to data jockey Cody Sarvis for
help, since my lady parts prevent me from understanding difficult things like
math and how to kill spiders.

Since the advent of the report on March 3, 2016, 504
appearances by men and 114 appearances of female roasters. Seventeen of those
114 appearances have battled more than once. We tracked these 17 “Career
Battlers.” from that time to August 30, 2016, female Career Battlers have won
62.8% of the time with one draw in male vs. female fight. Since January 12,
2016, women have won 58.2% of male vs female fights. January 12th is referenced
because it was the first time there were an equal number of female and male
battlers to have appeared on the show. On April 5th, 2016, the blog changed from
a one-topknot operation to a committee with an editor. Since that milestone,
Career Battling women have won just 50% of the time. Take look at this cool
graph!

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Did that make no sense? Take a gander at these hot math pies!

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So the overall answer is, historically,
female Career Battlers have won more on average, but we are trending towards
equality. So, yay! We’re losing more! Sorry, gents: if you’ve lost in the
last 4 months, in wasn’t due to bias. It was probably your jokes, performance,
or your big ol’ dicks weighing you down.

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How does judging factor
into all this?

88.1% of judging has been by males, leaving just 11.9% of the
judging to women, mostly Sarah Tiana and Iliza Shlesinger. I bet you are
thinking, “They always vote for the ladies”. Of the 17 comics we tracked, on
nights with 2 female judges there were zero female wins. On nights with 1
female judge there were 15. With zero female judges women took home 13 wins.
So, the numbers show there is is lady judge present there are only two more
wins over men. Additionally, there has only been one main event with two female
judges. That was Jeanne Whitney vs. Dan Nolan. Dan won.

Mira! One more graph! 

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Any last words, ladies?

People should stop
assuming someone gets their jokes written for them. I ONLY hear that about
female battlers. WHY? Yo’ nasty dicks ain’t worth sucking for jokes. We’ll
crush with our own jokes, thanks.” – Nicole Becannon 

Bold words, Nicole. Can’t wait to see you slay.

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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 11:30 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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