For the past year and more, comedians have squared off in head-to-head competitions to match wits and trade insults at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, Calif., in what have become hugely popular Roast Battles.
Jeffrey Ross, aka “The Roastmaster General,” has overseen the Roast Battles in Los Angeles, and brought them to comedy festivals last November in New York City and this March in Austin at SXSW. Now Ross has brought the concept to Montreal’s Just For Laughs with a name change and a slightly more polished finish. The Roastmasters Invitational kicked off preliminary-round action Tuesday night at L’Astral with four battles, hosted by Brian Moses, judged by Ross alongside Artie Lange and Ari Shaffir, with plenty of interruptions from the white racist hater couple and a cast of crazies who act out brief sketches to amplify the hits and misses onstage.
Note: Co-creator Rell Battle isn’t here for this. He has moved to New York City to start his own version of “Roast Battle” in the Big Apple with a weekly face-off there (next up Aug. 1 as “Roast Battle 2.0” at New York Comedy Club).
The Roastmaster Invitationals, meanwhile, presented a streamlined straightforward series of roast battles.
Insult for insult, barb for barb, and after several exchanges, a final ruling from the judges.
Jimmy Carr — whose experience hosting roasts in Britain and whose act of bloody brilliant one-liners itself serves up hours of roastworthy ammunition (see my review of Carr’s act at JFL 2014, in L’Astral even) — seems like the comedian to beat. The frontrunner. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone proves quick and clever enough to top him this week in Montreal.
Carr trounced Wil Anderon in his preliminary round Tuesday night. Other victors:
- Joe DeRosa defeated Mike Ward
- Tony Hinchcliffe defeated Luenell
- Tom Ballard defeated “Randy” in a battle of Australian comedian vs. Aussie puppet
Wednesday night’s judges will include Wanda Sykes and Jason Reitman