James Franco probably thought being a multi-hyphenate performer and artist seemed pretty great. That was before he agreed to be the subject of this year’s Comedy Central roast, which was taped Aug. 25 at Culver Studios.
“Who is the real James Franco?,” teased Franco’s “Freaks and Geeks” and “This is the End” co-star. “Is he an artist? Is he an actor? Is he a scholar? He’s tough to pin down. Although I’ve heard many guys have been able to do it.”
Sarah Silverman said that, to be fair, Franco might not have a sexual preference because “he literally can’t open his eyes to see who he’s fucking” and that he was inspired to make his upcoming film “Interior: Leather Bar” after he “ate a giant bag of dicks hosting the Oscars.”
Franco’s many talents were also red carpet fodder, with fellow “Freaks and Geeks” alums Samm Levine and Busy Philipps speculating on his next career ambitions – he would like to see Franco conquer ballet or the Harlem Globetrotters while she thought the Palo Alto native could help design the California High-Speed Rail super train.
As is the format for these events, those onstage were just as vulnerable to jabs as the honoree. Jonah Hill’s weight fluctuation, Aziz Ansari’s recent $3.5 million book deal, Andy Samberg’s new TV show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Natasha Leggero‘s relative lack-of-fame, Nick Kroll‘s semitic heritage and Bill Hader’s T-Mobile commercials all became punch lines.
Jeffrey Ross, a Roast staple who came dressed as Franco’s “Spring Breakers” character — complete with women in neon bikinis and ski masks – complimented Rogen’s charitable work: “You lend yourself to two causes: Alzheimer’s research and marijuana legalization; that’s the two groups who forget you play the same character in every fucking movie. Twitter offers 139 more characters than Seth Rogen.”
Despite an evening in the hot seat, Franco was kind when it was his turn to give everyone their comeuppance, apologizing specifically to Hill for the weight jokes.
“All night I’ve had to sit here and listen to everyone’s jokes, pretending to be amused by them,” he said. “But in reality, the joke’s on all of you. This is not a roast. This is my greatest, most elaborate art installation ever. I’m not the real guest of honor, these aren’t real comedians and we’re not even on a real network.”
The Roast of James Franco airs on Sept. 2 at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.