The Beginner’s Guide to Comedy Central’s Roast Battle

It's a friendly competition, but that doesn't mean it won't get rough.

Like the comics competing, you should know what you’re getting into when you’re ringside at a Roast Battle. For the uninitiated, it’s like a rap battle for comics airing Thursday through Sunday at 10/9c. We’ve got all the information you need — from the show’s history to a comprehensive who’s who to a primer on the infamous Wave — to get you ready for the nonstop onstage savagery.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN
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Originating as a live show at the Comedy Store in L.A., Roast Battle was born when comedian Brian Moses tried to de-escalate a fight between two comics. Instead of letting them beat each other up, he convinced them to settle their grievance with words onstage. The Roastmaster General himself, Jeff Ross, soon became a regular judge at the live event and has, of course, accompanied the show to the big time.

HOW DID WE FIND THE ROASTERS IN THIS SERIES?
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Several comedians nabbed spots as roasters when the Roast Battle traveled the country to find the meanest, sharpest comics around. In New York, Mike Lawrence trounced Scott Chaplain in a war of wits that touched on everything from sexuality to dead dads. Lawrence’s jokes hurt so good, they earned him one of the coveted 16 spots in Comedy Central’s Roast Battle.

WHAT — OR WHO — IS THE WAVE?
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The Wave is a force of nature made up of Jamar Neighbors, Willie Hunter and Jeremiah Watkins. They dramatize the best jokes each time a comic destroys their opponent — and they also rub it in when a roaster’s joke totally bombs.

MEET THE JUDGES
Crowning a national roast champion is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly. So naturally, we broke out the big guns when it came to finding suitable judges to accompany permanent fixture and insult master Jeff Ross. Among those lending their sick burn bona fides are Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Anthony Jeselnik and David Spade.

GET TO KNOW THE CONTESTANTS
Ralphie May: Too Big to Ignore
Steve Rannazzisi: Breaking Dad
Mike Lawrence: The Half Hour
• Olivia Grace: Road to Roast Battle
• Ms. Pat: This Is Not Happening
Mark Normand: The Half Hour
• K. Trevor Wilson: 2012 Irwin Barker Award Winner at Just For Laughs
• Tom Ballard: “Reality Check” on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
• Earl Skakel: Road to Roast Battle
• Matthew Broussard: Adam Devine’s House Party
• Sarah Tiana: South Beach Comedy Festival
• Tony Hinchcliffe: “One Shot” on Netflix
• Jimmy Carr: 2015 Roastmasters Invitational Champion, “Funny Business” on Netflix
Sam Morril: The Half Hour
Chris Cubas: Comics to Watch
• Christi Chiello: Road to Roast Battle

ANYTHING ELSE?
Of course. In fact, we’ll be keeping you up-to-date every night of the event with tributes to the eliminated roasters, rundowns of the best burns and more. Plus, you’ll be able to catch each episode on the Comedy Central app as well as exclusive after-shows on the first three nights and a livestream of the finale on Sunday night. Pace yourself: It’s going to be four nights of madness.