Credit: Mariah Karson

Pinning down an appropriate roller derby alter ego—one that embodies the sport’s rough-and-tumble spirit—can be a challenge. Whether it’s a homophone (Dawn Ting), a play on a band (AliSin Chains), or an invented weapon (Rusty Razorskates), the nickname should strike fear into an opposing line of blockers as you scrum for position to let your jammer through—and it should look cool on a trading card, too. When in doubt, you can also butcher a celebrity’s name or mutate a TV or movie character into a disfigured slayer of the track. Among the players on the five home teams of the Windy City Rollers: Billie Mean King, Tina Flay, Joanie Utah, and Slammah Montana. Chicago Outfit Roller Derby has Rude E. Huxtable. But Brawla Poundstone is the hardest of them all. Michele Grimes, who skates for Hell’s Belles, played around with the names of various NPR personalities—Scary Gross, Snarl Kasell—before settling on the stand-up comedian, who’s a panelist on Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me. Grimes even got Paula Poundstone to sign her trading card at a comedy show a few months back. Bulking up an already-tough name of someone who won fame in the 90s in part by riffing on cat jokes? It’s a clever way of elbowing opponents.