Jeff Ross From Roasting Celebrities to Roast Battles
Written by Joseph Santiago
The revival of the “roast” in the mid 90’s brought the “lost art of roasting” back to the mainstream. When Comedy Central brought back the roast it was seen by some in the comedy industry as “corny”. Almost 20 years later and celebrity roasts on Comedy Central are still going strong. However, a new comedic blood sport has risen on Comedy Central: the roast battle!
Jeff Ross (a bona fide Roast Master General) heads up this latest project for Comedy Central called “Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle”. Names like Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Rogan have all guest judged the new show. The show features some lesser known comics all taking verbal jabs at one another. The only rules: all content must be original, no touching, the battle ends with a hug. The rules were created after some fights erupted in a comedy club during the early years.
It isn’t just the two comedians battling with each other onstage, the judges also throw some shots in from time to time. With sharp-tongued critics mere feet in front of the “battlers”: a bad joke doesn’t resound in just boos from the audience, but a verbal berating from some of the best in the industry. Throw in a DJ sounding out some sound effects, and what the show calls “The Wave” (three people that can create a distraction), these comedians need to bring everything they have, or face humiliation on camera for millions to see.
The roast battle started out in nightclubs. While no one is 100% sure, some claim it started back in 2013 when two comedians wanted to settle a dispute on-stage. No matter where it started roast battles have taken hold at comedy clubs across the US. From The Comedy Store in Hollywood to The Stand in New York, roast battles are in full swing and frequently sell out.
Since roasts have been brought back from corniness in the mid 90’s, comedians have been evolving the art of the roast. Jeff Ross, one of the most recognizable roasters as he has not missed a celebrity roast for Comedy Central since 2005. In a recent interview Ross was asked where roasting goes from here: “Roasts have gone to politics”. Commenting on upcoming Trump vs Clinton debates he added “ the debate might resemble a roast battle, and the funnier one might win”.