When the former star of Insomniac with Dave Attell and lead judge on Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle get together onstage, the comedic output is decidedly dirty, often spontaneous and proudly no-holds-barred. The duo’s first co-headlining Bumping Mics show was unleashed in May 2015 at the House of Blues; this weekend’s Vegas return marks a homecoming, an anniversary and a showcase of the most lightning-quick insult comedy imaginable, all rolled into one. Jeff Ross spoke with the Weekly about it.
How does your Bumping Mics tour with Dave Attell differ from an average stand-up show?
My shows are weird anyway. You add Dave to the mix, and it’s like one plus one equals three. We are like firepower. It’s almost rock-concert-level comedy. We wanted to take it up a notch and start working theaters and big casinos, because it’s really, truly a show. We go back and forth making fun of each other, making fun of the world, making fun of the audience. And sometimes we have celebrity guests. It’s the most fun, highest-jokes-per-minute comedy has ever seen.
The now-sober Attell used to be a bit of a wild card on the road. How do the two of you now spend your offstage time?
You know, it’s interesting: The guy’s actually loosened up a little bit. He actually gambled at our last couple of casino gigs in Tahoe and Atlantic City. As a matter of fact, we did a private party in Vegas [in May], and I got Dave to come out at the Mirage’s daytime crazy beach club. Very un-Dave like. I feel like the Bumping Mics tour has really brought Dave out into the limelight. Normally he would go right back to his cave after a show, but he’s been in party mode with me.
Roast Battle has enjoyed two seasons on Comedy Central, and the recent U.K. edition was the most-watched series in Comedy Central U.K. history. What’s next for the show?
We can officially say we’ll be back on Comedy Central this summer. New format, new judges, and a new timeslot. It’s basically evolving from a four-day tournament to a weekly series. I want to be able to book my favorite comics for one day, not have them have to submit for a whole week. Comics come in, they challenge somebody, they go back and forth and they’re done. It’s for fun—for bragging rights. You don’t have to see them all in order to get what’s going on.
What is it about roasting as a comedic art form that’s made it so suddenly influential?
I think it’s always been a fascination for people, but I feel like Donald Trump roast-battled his way into the Oval Office. And I think people are responding to his political incorrectness. I’m not giving Trump credit for making roasts popular. I think roasts made Trump popular. But we try to keep it from being mean-spirited and ugly. We want it to be fun and sort of party-like. I want everyone to feel like it’s a badge of honor to get made fun of.
JEFF ROSS AND DAVE ATTELL: BUMPING MICS June 9, 10 p.m., $33-$55. Mirage, 702-791-7111.