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by Keith Carey, photos by Troy Conrad

Despite the rest of Los Angeles turning into something of a
ghost town during the Christmas season, the Belly Room is packed to the gills
with fans and comics alike. Several last-minute fights have been added to the
card, making it another ten fight night. In an effort to find a rhythm that
works the best, Moses decides to open the evening with a battle, between Josh
Michaels and Ricky Macias.

Full disclosure: I was not present for this fight because I
didn’t know they were going to be starting the battles so early, so
unfortunately I can’t offer a ton of commentary. However, those who saw it all
said very positive things, and after seeing Josh’s debut fight recently, I
don’t doubt it. Here are the jokes, which these two were kind enough to send me
after the fact so that they could be recorded here:

“Ricky looks like a French caveman that paints his
feelings.”

“Josh has an amateur magic act. The only thing he hasn’t
made successfully disappear are his homosexual tendencies.”

“Ricky is currently dating a black girl because since his
dad was cremated, he can only love ashy things.”

“Josh’s dad is a Trump supporter, because if a grown man
can’t grab a pussy when he wants to, how is he supposed to hug his own son?”

“Ricky’s mom is schizophrenic, which is sad because none of
her personalities were ever proud of him.”

“Josh looks like he’s proud to be the most effeminate white
supremacist.”

“Ricky looks like a pedophilic wizard. It’s such an honor to
be roasting Severus Rape.”

“Josh looks like what Ellen DeGeneres feels like.”

Solid work by both. Ricky won it in overtime. Nicely done,
gentlemen. 

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After a bit more stand-up, the battles continue with Raab
Russell and Keenan Kusnierczyk!

Raab and Keenan take the stage, managing the near-impossible
feat of both looking the other’s personal version of rock bottom. Despite his
virgin status at Roast Battle, Keenan has the confidence to go first, which is
almost as impressive as Raab having the confidence to commit to his 70’s
hockey-goon haircut. The bell rings and the mud starts flying:

“Raab thinks he’s gonna make it out here, but the only lines
you’re gonna get in Hollywood are off the back of a toilet seat.”

“Keenan, you weak, hipster faggot. You look like Brian
Posehn losing a battle to AIDS.”

“Raab, I might be a hipster, but you’re so white trash at
the DMV, under race you put ‘NASCAR.’”

“Guys, Keenan is actually quite talented. He’s a writer, a
director, and he produces all his own shitty material.”

“Raab, you’re such a loser. He got fired from the grocery
store for smoking weed, but he looks like he got fired from the county fair for
fingering a teenager.”

“Keenan’s dad is a truck driver that he rarely ever sees.
Somehow, he is the only load that his dad regrets dropping off.”

Keenan’s initial swagger is sadly not backed up by the
strongest writing. He struggles to connect with the audience. In this writer’s
opinion, the NASCAR joke is the strongest from either competitor in this
battle, but would have benefitted from a bit of editing. Brevity is the key to
a perfect battle joke, and unfortunately Keenan learns this the hard way. Raab
for his part, lands his first two punches squarely. He stumbles a bit on the
closer, but he still walks away with a definitive win. 

In the night’s third fight, Timothy McGorry trades blows
with Fin Jones.

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Fin Jones takes the stage first. After not being able to
find a Facebook account, we jokingly used a picture of a homeless man in the
preview blog, and I could have never imagined how accurate that would be. He
truly looks like everybody who ever overdosed on heroin at a skatepark. Tim
follows, wearing a festive sweater and brimming with what can be best be called
“musical theater energy.” He takes off on a rant in the pre-battle interview,
thankfully stopping just short of completely turning the crowd on him. Those
pre-battle moments are crucial, and many fighters lately have tried to do long,
monologue-y type things. I applaud anybody who takes risks, but it is a huge
one. Once Tim runs out of words and/or breath, the battle starts:

“A lot of
people say Tim looks like Jonah Hill. And I agree. Jonah Hill DOES look like a
fat piece of shit.”

“You look like a four-month old dead goat that taxidermy
frat boys fuck as a rite of passage.”

“Tim McGorry’s comedy is like his breathing; a constant
struggle we all just wish would end already.”

“I recently paid for Finn to have a vision quest. Turns out
his spirit animal is a bedbug. Which is ironic since he doesn’t own a bed or
sleep on one.”

“Seriously, Tim, better jokes have been written by chicks
while Bill Cosby raped them. Tim’s the Hilary Clinton of comedy. He’s got
cankles.”

“If you bottled and sold your cologne as an essence it’d be
called ‘Eau de Corpse.’ My fucking dad’s dead and he smells better than you.”

The battle is a dead heat all the way through. Finn’s jokes
are well crafted and delivered with a deadpan energy that bounces well off of
the showy theatrics of Tim’s more absurdist material. They both try (and fail)
to pull off a double-tap on their closer. Again, a bold move, but it leaves the
energy muted as we move into overtime. Tim goes first:

“Y’know, Faces of Meth wasn’t supposed to be an
instructional manual.”

“Rick Ingraham once said that the hardest part of having
Type 1 diabetes is standing next to some fat slob with Type 2 diabetes. But
standing here tonight, I can honestly say that’s the hardest part about not
having diabetes.” 

Tim’s jokes pops hard. Finn’s risky attempt at a long joke
falls flat, neutered by flabby construction and the fact that the non-comics in
the audience don’t really know who Rick Ingraham is. As it is in stand-up, so
it is in Roast Battle; don’t write to the back of the room, they’re not the
ones who paid for the tickets. Tim takes the win, and gets some surprise words
of wisdom from a Roast Report regular, who has finagled his way into a judge’s
seat for a minute:

“I’m sorry your dad died, but it’s good that he has a grave
to roll in after watching that.” – Pat Barker 

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The night chugs along as Frankie Ma pops his cherry against
Dakota Freeman!

Frankie Ma, who you may recognize as the annoyed son working
in the back of every donut shop in Los Angeles, reveals he has never actually
seen Roast Battle. This has happened a few times in Roast Battle history, and
historically it’s never worked out, so everybody’s leaning in for a
trainwreck. Dakota is a new face on the scene, and showed glimmers of promise
in a recent loss to Greg Roque. However, the spark is not there tonight, and
this battle is a lot like his sideburns: it’s pretty gay-ass and it should have
been cut.

“So, Dakota has the body that could never pick up a woman
and the face that no woman would sit on.”

“Frankie Ma always talks like he’s running out of batteries.”

“This is true. For the first 5 months of Dakota’s pregnancy,
Dakota’s mom didn’t know she was pregnant with him. For the next 4 months, she
didn’t know how Dakota kept surviving the abortion attempts.”

“Frankie Ma is Asian and does yoga. His favorite positon is
‘Downward Eating a Dog.’”

“Dakota’s mom is addicted to meth and has left his life so
Dakota has adopted the body of a meth-head to try and win back her love.”

“Frankie Ma has two goals in comedy; to be a better comedian
than Louis C.K. and to be a better rapist than Bill Cosby.”

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Oof. Both battlers barely move the needle. There are
rumblings of a double-loss with a backdoor eviction, a rarity in the Belly Room
reserved for the worst of the worst. However, mercy is delivered as the
audience unanimously decides to make Haiti the winner for some reason. Better
luck next time, fellas.

Next up is an all-Latino battle as Manny Ortiz gets loco
with Frank Estrada.

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Frank Estrada is brought up to the rousing strains of “Lean
Like A Cholo.” Between his leather jacket and the fact that he’s about two feet
tall, he looks like a child auditioning for an all-Hispanic middle school
version of “Grease.” Manny lumbers to the stage, looking less like a Mexican
and more like a Shrek-xican. Wetback and fatback collide in a war of words:

“To tell you the truth, Manny didn’t ask me before he signed
me up for Roast Battle. Wouldn’t be the first time he struggled with the
concept of consent.”

“Frank looks a little bit like a Mexican, and a lot like his
mom fucked a hipster version of Wolverine.”

“Manny likes his women like he likes his wine; aged 13 years
and locked in a cellar.”

“Frank recently went through a divorce. Unfortunately he got
to keep her kids while she kept her balls.”

“I am actually a single father with full custody. Manny
never sees his kid because he’s usually just in custody.”

“Frank Estrada’s a big fan of Woody Allen. Not for his
comedy technique, but for divorcing his wife and then keeping his own daughter
for himself.”

A solid back-and-forth, but Frank gains the upper hand from
joke one and holds onto it for the whole round. His custody rebuttal hits very
hard, sweeping the legs out from under Manny’s closer and securing Frank a
victory in his first battle. Well done, you small, small man!

We move into our final group of undercards with Anne Flagg
and Tony Asar!

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“OJ! Nicole! Let’s Roast!” – Moses

Anne fought just a couple weeks back and she’s already back
in the ring. Tenacity is all well and good, but hopefully she’s brought some
jokes as well. Tony takes the stage, impeccably dressed and ushered in by the
same rap song about Pomona (his terrible hometown) that he always has been.
You’ve got to love anybody who has no wins to their name and still has a theme
song. 

“Now, are they going to fuck?” – Kirk Fox

“I only fuck successful married men.” – Anne

Tony takes the bullet, and the battle commences:

“Anne cut her hair because she’s too much of a blonde to cut
her wrists.”

“After Tony knocked up his girlfriend, he did what any
respectable black man would do and married her so he could live off her
parent’s money.”

“Anne claims to be a feminist but her jokes disagree with
women being funny.”

“Tony and his wife have this agreement where he gets to
sleep around on her. They call it ‘being black.’”

“Anne claims to have been doing comedy since she was born.
That’s why her dad left during the opening act.”

“Tony, I really hope you don’t have a run-in with the
police. Then again, if you were shot, people would actually know your name.”

Rough stuff. Tony goes a remarkable 0-3, while Anne lands a
couple of solid hits. Frequent guest/friend of the show Al Madrigal, however,
has an even less optimistic view what he has just witnessed:

“I thought it was fuckin’ horrible. This is one of the worst
fuckin’ battles. You guys are really terrible at this.”

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We’ll get into more of Al’s feel-good energy when we get to
the main event. Anne takes the win.

The final undercard of the night is a bloodbath between
Courtney Banks and Heather Marulli!

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Courtney “Bootleg Beyonce” Banks is a very popular comedian
on the scene, and an all-around good lady. All of these are nice ways of saying
that homegirl sucks at Roast Battle. She most recently got body-bagged by Guam
Felix, the battle equivalent of getting dunked on by the guy in the mascot
costume. She is followed by Heather Marulli, who is wearing an adorable floral
tiara that makes her look like the flower girl at the wedding between chocolate
and peanut butter. She is played up to the sounds of “I Want a Hippopotamus for
Christmas” because Coach Tea is the funniest man in the world. Heather made a
splashy debut against Ernie Stone, but is coming off two tough losses to Mike
Schmidt and Danielle Perez, so she’s got fire in her eyes and snacks in her
purse as she throws out the first joke:

“Courtney is only ashy around her pussy because it burns
like a volcano.”

“Heather’s seeing a new guy, but he wants to take it slow.
Specifically around meal time.”

“I am bigger, but at least I’m built to take a black dick.
Courtney and I both date white guys. Well, I call it ‘dating’, she calls it
‘pleasing her master.’”

“Heather’s mom almost fucked David Letterman, but Heather’s
thyroid fucked Heather.”

“I have a perfectly normal thyroid. Courtney reminds me of RuPaul.
Not only does she have a large collection of wigs, but she looks like she tucks
in her dick.”

“Heather has an amazing laugh. Which is really helpful
because it helps drown out the look of her face.”

Both these ladies have clearly come prepared. After a string
of battles ranging from fine to bad, the crowd wakes the fuck up, popping on
just about every joke. Heather is demanding one more joke, and the room is more
than happy to oblige.

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“Heather is
intelligent. She embraces her body type, and she’s great at giving head. Or at
least that’s what I’ve heard girls her size are like.”

“Courtney, you look like you have Michael Jackson’s third
face.”

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The room explodes on the Michael Jackson joke, which is so
good I can’t believe she was saving it for overtime. Courtney, for her part,
acquits herself well and proves that she’s got the chops to fight a solid
battle. However, Heather runs the stage from second one, bringing the level of
confidence and sass that she promised in her first battle, and she gets the W
in a potential star-making performance.

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The main events begin with Benji Aflalo locking horns with
Earl Skakel! 

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Due to a scheduling mishap, Benji is onstage in the Original
Room downstairs when he is called to the stage. We all awkwardly wait for four
minutes for him to get upstairs, so he definitely starts off in a hole, despite
some valiant attempts at pre-fight riffing with Moses. 

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Earl also fumbles with
his introduction. With the assistance of the Virzi Triplets and a ton of comics
in Sting masks, he attempts to make a huge entrance, but the parts do not align
at all. The crowd is confused and annoyed, the actors seem unsure about what to
do, and the lack of music makes it painfully quiet until he finally reveals
himself. However, Skakel is a master at winning a crowd, and acknowledges it
gracefully and immediately, to uproarious laughter.

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“You guys are the fucking worst actors ever. I spent 150 bucks
on masks and you came out like a bunch of goddamn mummies.” – Earl Skakel

“I love you Earl, I really do, but fucking Benji had a
better entrance.” – Al Madrigal

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With the theatrics out of the way, we’re into the fight.
This is a classic match-up between a showman and a writer, and
their styles both complement and clash with each other in interesting ways: 

“Nice leather pants, Earl. So when you’re not fucking cows,
you’re wearing them?”

“Mediocre for 500, Alex? I’m actually surprised you’re here,
Benji. You’re usually so far up Jeff Ross’ ass that when he has a burger, you
tell him how it tastes.”

“It’s funny you bring up the names I’m attached to when you
have ‘Al & Ed’s Autosound’ on your station wagon.”

“You need some more pages to read from?”

“You need to go to the toy store to buy another costume, you
48-year old weirdo?”

“I might be 48, but you’re the only guy in here who needs a
high chair to hit a coffee table.”

“Don’t make fun of my size. I’m the same height you were
when your parents died, you orphan idiot.”

“I’ll take bombing for 1,000, Alex. We’re making fun of my
look? You look like you drove up here in a race car bed. Let me take a shit on
that paper so there’s something funny on it!”

“You’re a grey old man, you’ve been doing comedy 30 years,
you’re almost 50 and you don’t have 50 minutes. You make Kirk Fox look like Al
Madrigal.”

“Benji, you’re so Jewish even your pilots get passed over.”

“I have a TV show coming out.”

“You’ve done more damage to pilots than 9/11.”

“Do you need to fix another pilot joke that didn’t work,
Earl?”

“Actually, they did. You can’t even memorize five jokes,
bitch.”

“Earl, at the end of the day you’re trapped in the 80’s, and
the girls you fuck are trapped in narrow doorways.”

“Let me tell you something. We’ve been very mean to each other.
Benji has more money than anybody in this room. More than the judges, more than
you, more than myself. But he looks down on nobody…including midgets.”

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It’s a vicious street fight of a battle. Moses barely
manages to pull these two apart before the room demands one more joke. Benji
warns that his joke is a long one, and then this happens:

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“It turns out when Earl was 12, his butler, Leroy died. And
that was the guy who kind of raised him. And it was really hard on Earl. So
when I look at Earl’s persona, the guy who wears costumes and is obsessed with
street hockey and wrestling, I’m reminded that what he has is a psychological
problem called ‘arrested psychological development’, which is what happens when
your primary caregiver dies when you’re really young. You get stuck in this
sort of child phase. Oh, right, the joke. Knock knock! (crowd: “Who’s there?”)
Not your dead butler, the 80’s are over, GROW UP, EARL!”

“Benji, you’re so cheap you don’t like to have sex with
women because that means you’d have to put the tip in.”

The crowd goes bananas for the tip joke. The judges offer up
some words.

“How Earl’s never played Mandy Patinkin’s furious son is
beyond me.”          – Theo Von

“I like Benji because he has a TV show that will be casting
soon…” – Kirk Fox 

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The judges ultimately give it to Earl, citing Benji’s use of
notes as a major factor in a scenario reminiscent of Earl’s upset victory over
Jimmy Carr on Comedy Central. 

And in the final battle of the night, Tony Bartolone loses
to Albert Escobedo. And Al Madrigal. And himself.

This is to be a three-round fight. Initially cut to a 5-joke
one rounder to accommodate Earl and Benji’s addition, Tony has insisted it run
the full 9 jokes, and Moses has graciously conceded. Albert is brought up
first, and he’s fine. He’s loose, he’s relatively charming, and he seems ready
to fight. Then Tony is dragged out as Trump Santa:

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“I don’t feel comfortable standing this close to an illegal
and shit. Can you guys take care of this?” – Tony

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With that, the Virzi Triplets literally erect a wall between
Tony “White Power Santa” Bartolone and Albert “Baffled by All of This”
Escobedo. Tony commits to the bit hard. He’s riffing, he’s trying to build a
character, but the crowd is not particularly inspired, a negative emotion
perhaps inspired by the failure of the last battle’s pageantry, or perhaps just
a side effect of the fact that this was the tenth battle of the night and
people were simply getting exhausted. But by the end of this round, the crowd
has turned on Tony in a way that, frankly, is unprecedented in Roast Battle
history. Tony keeps trying to bluster his way into their good graces until a
judge chimes in:

“Oh, shut the fuck up. You fucking asshole.” – Al Madrigal

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Al puts his foot down on the theatrical shenanigans, and it
lands squarely on Tony’s neck. Still, he stays in character, complete with
Southern accent, as round one kicks off with a jab from Albert:

“Tony wrote a play about his abusive step-father, titled,
‘No Rick, YOU’RE the Faggot!’”

“Fuckin’ Alfred El Camino over here, you fuckin’
backstabbing border-bandit…”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” – Al Madrigal

“…sorry. It’s gonna be more of this.” – Tony

“I’m just gonna leave. It’ll give you more of a chance.” – Al

“You can leave. Sorry this isn’t the fucking Daily Show or
whatever liberal shit you subscribe to. This is fuckin’ America, God damn it.” – Tony

“Guess who’s cruising towards their first loss?” – Al

“I’ve lost a bunch already. Should I do a joke now?” – Tony

The crowd hesitantly agrees.

“Alfred…El Camino…you back…stabbing…border…bandit. You look
like a California grape and the guy who picked it.”

“I was right to stop it.” – Al

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Albert is also here, which we all kind of forgot. 

“We know Tony wasn’t inspired by the neighbor that molested
him because his art has never touched anyone.”

“Almond Queso-Frito, you clean cut dirty Sanchez. Almond’s
aunt was murdered, and, uh, that’s an unsolved mystery, among the other
unsolved mysteries in his life like how he went fuckin’ 6-0 in Roast Battle.”

“Tony sleeps on a shipping palette, which is ironic since
he’s going nowhere.”

“Do you wanna cut it to five jokes? Humberto Flaming Hot
Cheet-O, you Power Bottom Ranger. You look like a Taco Bell Chihuahua Animorphed
into a faggot.”

Moses takes the stage, and very clearly lets Tony know he’s
getting what he asked for.

“Tony, you insisted on doing nine, and now you’re gonna take
your fucking medicine.”

“You know, I can’t help but feel some responsibility for this,
and for that I apologize.” – Saudi Prince

“I don’t give a fuck what you people think!” – Tony

“YES YOU DO!” – Erik Marino

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Tony looks visibly shaken and seems to want to leave, but
the crowd is enjoying the idea of making him squirm for as long as possible. Unsurprisingly,
Albert takes the first round as we move into round 2. 

“Tony went down on a girl in a wheelchair whose legs were
cut off. He was single, she was separated.”

“Tony’s 4-1 in Roast Battle, but his worst burns came from
his step-dad’s cigarettes.”

“Tony used to be a poet, so I wrote a poem for him. ‘Roses
are red, violets are blue, Tony’s dad is dead.’”

“Al Pastor Burrito, you inner-city coward. Al is a
veterinarian, which means audiences aren’t the only things he puts to sleep. He
murders dogs, if that wasn’t clear. He kills your pets. Is that the man you
want? I’m fucking Santa.”

“Before I bomb this next joke, anybody else want to take a
shot? Pat, Frank, Alex, you good? Kirk, you got something? No? Halibut
Esca-beady eyes, you white-washed wetback. This dude’s Mexican but he doesn’t
even speak Spanish. He’s like a coconut. He…just looks like a coconut.”

“Starburst Escondido, you mentally challenged chalupa. This
dude looks like he does chemotherapy recreationally. Despite that joke, please
do not vote for me. I just want to go home.”

This round sees the Wave literally tearing down the wall
between Albert and Tony.

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“That chemo joke was a knockout punch. I give the round to
Santa.” – Al Madrigal

“WATCH THIS NIGGA WIN!” – Haiti

“I thought Santa really took it.” – Kirk

“Why do you want to hurt these people?” – Tony 

The judges are gleeful as they force Santa (and Albert, I
guess) into a third round: 

“Alvin Baked-Potato, you lean jumping bean. Alvin’s mom had
six kids. Jesus Christ, her vagina must be looser than the guy who murdered his
aunt.”

“Tony’s broke, but his air mattress suffers from the
greatest depression.”

“That’s just not factual. I have a great mattress.”

“Yeah, and my mom doesn’t have six kids, Chef Boyar-D cups.”

“[shitty fake name that I can’t hear on my recording], you
deleted scene of a person. You look like a fuckin’ skeleton wearing an
earthworm.”

“Tony used to be a theater actor. Now the only rolls he gets
are from Cinnabon.”

“Alcoholic Jared Leto, you anorexic anchor baby! You look like
the first Mexican to use a hybrid leaf-blower.”

“Tony can’t dance, because just his like his father’s heart,
he can’t keep a beat.”

“ONE MORE ROUND! ONE MORE ROUND!” – the crowd

“I’m gonna be the second person to kill myself at the Comedy
Store if you guys don’t shut the fuck up.” – Tony

“KILL YOURSELF! KILL YOURSELF!” – the crowd

“HE’LL DO IT! HE’LL DO IT!” – Doug Fager

“If you do, take some people with you.” – Saudi Prince

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The judges agree that Albert squandered a huge lead, and
they debate giving it to Santa before begrudgingly giving it to Albert. Al
Madrigal has some advice for future battlers:

“Enough with the fucking dead relative shit. Every time I
come, it’s one note, it’s never good, it’s the same joke over and over and over
again.”

“Hey Moses! How come neither one of these guys-“ – Doug Fager

“Oh, shut the fuck up!” – Al Madrigal

And then Tony drops his coat, revealing the god-damn
#FUCKFAGER shirt. Miraculously, after alienating the entire crowd, Tony’s
alt-kid nonsense scores a tremendous punch. Just last month we saw a weird
theatrical choice pay off in the case of Alex Hooper. Tonight shows us the risk
you take in making such a choice. Still, the choice is bold, and Roast Battle
is where you go to take big swings, even if they don’t always connectAs for
Albert? He’s 7-0, setting the official Roast Battle record for longest winning
streak. Who will end his reign of terror? Who knows? The show finally fucking
ends, and we all go off to assign suicide watch shifts for Tony.

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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 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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