At This Compliment Battle, Comedians Kill Each Other with Kindness

Boast Rattle’s monthly compliment competitions are heartwarming—and hilarious

Kyle Ayers has no problem with roasts. In fact, he likes them, but he also likes challenging himself as a writer. That’s how Boast Rattle was born. A few years ago, Ayers was joking around with friends about what the reverse of a roast would be like. Was it possible to make people laugh with compliments?


He says, “Once we started really structuring jokes and writing them in this format, we realized how funny they were and how much harder it was to do. It’s difficult to write these well.” He started talking to other comedians about the idea, and they liked it, too. Boast Rattle began as a segment on another show Ayers was hosting. “I did a variety show, and I would have this as a fun thing to break it up, and everyone would tell me how much they only liked this,” he explains.

boast rattle kyle ayers eugene mirman
Kyle Ayers (left) with Eugene Mirman

David Andrako

Ayers launched Boast Rattle as its own show, and in the past few years, he has hosted competitive compliment battles in Brooklyn and at various comedy festivals around the United States. Ayers moved to Los Angeles last fall, and this year, Boast Rattle found a new home at Dynasty Typewriter in Westlake.

Ayers explains how the competition is structured: “There are six comedians in the show, so there are three head-to-head rounds, and three winners from those rounds. For the finals, we interview someone from the audience, and the comedians take a minute and write one or two compliments about them. So the finals are an impromptu ‘boasting’ of an audience member. It’s fun, and we get to interview someone from the audience. That’s always a good time.”

On the surface, Boast Rattle might sound like a night of squeaky-clean, G-rated comedy, but Ayers says the show doesn’t stay clean for long—especially when the comedians know each other well. “Whenever we book people on the show, I’ll ask if there’s anyone they’d have a good time with,” he says. “The comedy community is so small that they generally have some relationship together. It’s really fun to have people who have a closer relationship, whether they’ve worked together closely for a long time or are in an actual relationship.”

While the audience may “Aww…” at a sweet sentiment, he says they respond best to well-structured jokes. Curious how a compliment can also be a joke? He offers this example: “One time, Aparna Nancherla was going against the comedian Joe Zimmerman in New York, and she said, ‘Joe is so respectful of women that the website Jezebel briefly considered changing their name to Joe-Z-bel.’ I liked that a lot.”

If you can’t make it to a show in person, you can also experience Boast Rattle on Sirius XM. Ayers records each show and says, “If we like how they turn out, the live shows go on Sirius as radio shows.”

Boast Rattle winners leave with the knowledge that they’ve made the world a kinder, funnier place—but that’s not all. As in professional wrestling, the show has a championship belt that lists the names of previous winners. Whose compliment skills will earn them the next spot on the belt? Find out at two upcoming competitions.

On Thursday, July 26, at 10 p.m., comedians Jon Gabrus, Giulia Rozzi, Will Miles, Brandie Posey, Ben Rodgers, and Barbara Gray will take on the challenge. Amy Miller will serve as guest judge. Get tickets here. On August 30 at 10 p.m., the featured flatterers include Todd Glass, Laurie Kilmartin, Eddie Pepitone, Langston Kerman, and more to be announced. Get tickets here.

Both shows are at Dynasty Typewriter, 2511 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets to Boast Rattle are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

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