In the ancient continuum that is comedy – from vaudeville to TikTok – the “roast” is essential. As comedy’s version of the rap battle in hip hop, comedians who love each other, hate each other, or are just there for the hilarious blood sport of it all, find a single topic and fry that person, only to eventually get fried by the guest of honor, eventually. Woman or man, black white or brown, gay, trans or straight – no one is spared the deliciously un-politically correct attacks and the competition of it all. To one-up your fellow comedian is to lavish and bathe in the spoils of laugh-war.
Starting May 7 and running across eight nights and three weeks, Philly’s Helium Comedy Club is presenting its “Coast to Coast Roast” with 16 “episodes” where 48 local comedians from 24 markets will represent their respective cities and playfully roast one another’s hometowns. Joe List and Mark Normand – respectively, from Season 2 of Netflix’s “The Stand Ups,” and Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer” – are the hosts, and Mekki Leeper and Pat Barker are representing Philly. The net proceeds go to Mental Health America. The laughs are all for us.
“Our research has shown that even though there’s a lot of virtual content being produced; people are looking for new forms of entertainment during such unprecedented times as these” stated Marc Grossman, owner of Helium Comedy Club/Goodnights, in an email. “Comedians roasting each other has always been popular but a nationwide-wide online roast where the city is the punchline will be a unique experience. Every comedy club owner and comedian knows how important it is to keep people laughing during this very uncertain time. Our focus is to help people take their minds off the current situation even if it’s just for a little while.”