Roast Battle Night 2: The Fight Continues at Just For Laughs


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There’s something about hitting stride, roaring to life, capturing the magic ­for the title.

While America is just being introduced to Roast Battle thanks to Comedy Central’s multi­night event, it’s been a focal point of the Los Angeles Comedy Scene for more than three years now. And everyone involved, from Jeff Ross down to the loyal audience packed like sardines into the Belly Room at the Comedy Store each Tuesday, is a little bit obsessed with it. So the news that it was going to air on Comedy Central inspired an insane amount of excitement, but also a good bit of trepidation. Not only did it face the inherent challenges of translating a spontaneous live event to television, but it would also be doing this in a different, larger, flashier venue. Would that destroy the gritty, electric vibe that is a huge part of the experience?

The second night of preliminaries proved that it absolutely would not. This audience came to
see an epic comedy cage fight, and they were rewarded with the kind of Roast Battle they
deserved. From the start of the show when folks on the upper level started banging the railings,
to the spontaneous group sing of Canada’s National Anthem for Battler K Trevor Wilson, to the
“One More Joke!” chant that compelled an extra sudden death round between Mark Normand
and Tony Hinchcliffe, this crowd had skin in the game… and what a game they saw!

Tonight’s judges are Whoopi Goldberg and Anthony Jeselnik. Jeselnik has been a highlight of
nearly every Comedy Central Roast in recent memory and brought in all that heavy artillery to
aim at the contestants and even in a sparring match with Whoopi (don’t worry, like the Battles, it
ended in a hug). And the matchups merited that caliber of judgement, including Ralphie May v
Ms Pat, Matt Broussard v Mike Lawrence, Olivia Grace v K Trevor Wilson, and Normand v
Hinchcliffe. Each Battle was the kind of even matchup that makes for maximum carnage and
explosiveness.

It’s a tricky task to take a beloved institution and try to capture that magic in a package everyone
can enjoy without getting off the couch, but Roast Battle Night 2 is about as close as you’re
going to get without a plane ticket to Los Angeles.

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Amy E Hawthorne is a New York by way of LA comedy journalist and founder of ComedyGroupie.com. She's also a produced numerous stand-up shows, got a paycheck and a drinking problem from The Comedy Store and is convinced that the Big Avocado lobby are the ones who really pull the strings in this country.