Once upon a time, two young comedians started a guerrilla open mic in the Belly Room at The Comedy Store. It was Tuesday nights at midnight, when the room would otherwise be empty, it had no ties to the Store's development system, and it quickly became a fun supportive room. Sadly egos and politics clashed and the mic died.
A couple of months later, Brian Moses quietly restarted the mic, even more guerrilla style, and it took off. Now, when I say it's a supportive room, don't get me wrong. I mean that comedians stick around and watch a few sets other than their own. I don't mean that everyone sat, cheering on hacky legless premises that dragged themselves slowly down a winding path into the Land of No Punchlines. In fact, quite the opposite.
Enter Rell Battle, the man who lives on El Pollo Loco and arguments. When he saw this weekly dose of friendly antagonism, he wanted to solidify it and thus the "Rell Battle Battle" was born.
Each week, two open mikers enter, one leaves. The combatants are selected the week before to give them time to prep. Then they have three rounds to knock each other out, roast battle style (there are beats by Frank, but no one raps, if you're wondering). Each round is dissected by "celebrity" judges like Earl Skakel, Tony Hinchcliffe, Chris Burns and me(!) like some kind of sick, dark American Idol with Moses as our Ryan Seacrest.
The contest is ultimately decided by audience applause, but no one really cares who won by that point. It's too much fun. The room is rowdy and full of everyone from young paid regulars to kids whose names I haven't learned yet.