If you grew up with brothers, sisters, and/or cousins then your affection for a well-crafted slam likely began at a young age. It may not always be polite, but it gets laughs and can forge stronger bonds with friends and loved ones who know how to give and get. It can also establish a hierarchy. In school, if you knew how to throw a diss, then you were probably less likely to catch a punch. Because they’re not swinging if they’re laughing. Or at least, that’s how it’s drawn up.
Despite the popularity of put down comedy in the playrooms and cafeterias of America, television has mostly steered clear. Comedy Central’s Roast Battle is the exception to this. The first season of Roast Battle took things to another level, focusing in on the most gifted practitioners of insult comedy — comedians themselves — in an environment that, to a degree, feels like what you always imagined the back room at a comedy club would be like at 2AM.
On Roast Battle II, sixteen professional comedians face off to deliver the ultimate burn. The Roastmaster General himself, Jeff Ross, host Brian Moses, and a hilarious panel of judges work their way through the bracket, looking for the one true diss champion. And there are, of course, comedy royals on hand to fill out the panel. Roast Battle II brings Anthony Jeselnik, Snoop Dogg, Whitney Cummings, Ken Jeong, Sarah Silverman, John Mayer, Patton Oswalt, T.J. Miller, and Jason Sudeikis into the arena to determine the fate of the roasters.
For four nights, there are only three rules that participants must follow: original jokes only (sorry classic ’90s “Yo Mama” diss fans), no physical contact, and each round ends with a hug — which really speaks to the collegial nature of the thing, even though the point is for two comedians to enter the ring with only one walking away with the title of Roast Battle Champion.
As you can see in the above clip featuring Anna Valenzuela and Evan Williams, the gut shots fly hard and fast because both comics want to get that win. As with any roast, going the furthest for the joke is always the objective (it’ll get them more points from the judges, too).
Contestants Kurt Metzger and Yamaneika Saunders also show what it looks like when comics go big for a joke, proving that nothing is off-limits in Roast Battle and that friends are the ones who can cut you the deepest, since they know you the best (everybody say “aw!”).
If you want to see comics take scathing shots at each other (in the name of fun, competition, and quite possibly some passive antipathy for each other), then catch Jeff Ross Presents: Roast Battle II, a four-night event starting January 26 at 10/9c on Comedy Central. And don’t miss the Live Finale on Sunday, January 29 at 10/9c.