The show that’s been gaining steam out on the left coast has come to SXSW Comedy for 3 nights. Each show reached capacity with fans having to be turned away. And that said show sees stand-up comics competing in a match of wit and insults called Roast Battle. Hosted by Brian Moses aka the Fight Promoter with music by Frank Castillo, two comics go at each other in classic “Roast” fashion for a total of up to 3 rounds. Each round is judged by a panel of additional comics who vote the winner of each said round with the first to two declared the victor. The third and final night of showcases pitted New York based comedian and Amy Schumer touring opener Mark Normand against actor, writer and host of Esquire’s Best Bars In America Jay Larson. The judges for the night included the Roastmaster General himself Jeff Ross, Joe DeRosa, and Undateble cast members Chris D’Elia, Rick Glassman, and Brent Morin who also found themselves roasting each other as well as the comics on stage.
The show brings a unique energy and rowdiness encompassing all the best components of traditional roasts with the added flavor of focused head to head ball busting slams that simply has to be experienced live. If the comics on stage, the host, the judges, and the music complete with sound effects aren’t already enough, we welcome in the peanut gallery called The Negro Wave to the mix. A group of mini sketch artists if you will that run on stage when cued by any particular joke that goes extremely well or just the opposite. Think “The Whammies” from the 80’s game show Press Your Luck. If you don’t know the reference, then you don’t know the best television game show to ever be on TV. Do yourself a favor and watch some clips on YouTube… I digress. Their unbelievable antics range from a jail cell set up, to tearing off shirts and dancing while water is poured on them, to treating each other like dogs. Quite entertaining as a subset of entertainment to the main facet of the show.
The slams and rips are sometimes observational and almost friendly jabs poking fun at each others’ outfits while on the other hand, can be extremely offensive and cutting edge all while walking the fine line of taking personal shots by pushing the boundaries of offensive comedy. This show brings the perfect marriage of both, and in the end, the comics hug it out and understand that it was all in good fun. This show is truly a celebration of comedy between peers while being a challenging task aimed directly at the writing skills of the competing comics. And it doesn’t hurt to have a little improv in your back pocket which ultimately put Mark Normand over the top as he defeated Larson in a slugfest match that went the full three rounds.
If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, you can check out Roast Battle Tuesday’s at midnight inside The World Famous Comedy Store’s Belly Room.