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‘Comic vs. Comic’ takes a personal approach to igniting a roast battle

Photo Credit: Jason Greenough
 
 

After a roast-less 2019, show host Sean Sullivan looks forward to once again showcasing Boston comedy’s well-rounded versatility

It’s been roughly a year and a half since Sean Sullivan last curated a roast battle in the Seaport, and if he’s being completely honest, he kind of figured the show had been retired after their last show in 2018. ‘Twas not the case, as you’ll see this evening.

Returning to the ring, Comic Vs. Comic returns to Laugh Boston tonight (January 16) for another round of brutal, yet lighthearted ribbing and comedic precision presented by come of the city’s best comedic voices. While Sullivan admits putting the show together had him feeling sort of burnt out in the past, it’s never not been fun for the Boston Comedy vet. Whether it’s because he’s able to do more riffing and improv as the host, as opposed to doing any of his polished material, or because it’s much more of a feel good night, as opposed to the venomous and fairly impersonal approach taken toward the art form’s sub-genre by Comedy Central over the last few years, Sullivan is looking forward to doing it again.

“The folks who own the club loved the show, because it’s a bit of a unique show and it gives people the chance to do material that they’ll never do anywhere else, and we keep it lighter than other roast shows,” Sullivan tells Vanyaland. “I don’t encourage anybody to go super dark and mean. I put the emphasis on good and funny jokes before anything else, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

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Having had so much time away from the roasting stage, this next round will include many comics who haven’t had the opportunity to take the stage in this particular setting. With folks like Jimmy Cash, Dan Hall, and Mark Gallagher (among others) set to take the stage, it’s no question how good of a show it will be. However, the way Sullivan sees it, the return of the roast battle represents more than just an opportunity to lay down some sweet burns on another comic. Not only is it a great way to exercise different creative muscles, but it also shows a comedic versatility you might not be used to seeing at a “regular” stand-up show.

“It’s a great showcase for people to show their well-roundedness,” says Sullivan. “You can see someone at an open mic, and you can see them do their material and get a good sense of who they are, but that’s only one facet of what we do.”

At the end of the day, with Boston’s comedy community being as close-knit as it is, the method to Sullivan’s madness, when it comes to putting the show together, is based heavily on the chemistry and personal connection the participants already have with one another. Not only does the camaraderie help to keep things lighthearted, but knowing just how far they can test limits, the personal aspect makes for an all-around great show, which is what Sullivan strives to put on every time.

“I think roasts are only good when you’re roasting someone you genuinely like,” says Sullivan. “That’s part of the problem I have with the roasts on Comedy Central, where you have stand-up comedians roasting someone like Alec Baldwin, who they’ve never met. It just gets more impersonal, but this way, you know your limits, you know your opponent’s limits, and you can just push each other to put on a really good show.”

COMIC VS. COMIC :: Thursday, January 16 at Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St. in Boston, MA :: 8 p.m., $15 :: Laugh Boston event page