The Friars Club, a very exclusive frat comprised of comedians and celebrities, has become widely known for its annual roasts. A "roast" is the bizarre process of having a distinguished guest sit awkwardly in front of a large crowd as friends and non-friends make lewd and contemptuous jokes at his or her expense. The process began back in 1950 and the club has been roasting folks since.
From 1998 through 2002, Comedy Central aired televised versions of the roasts but decided at some point that they'd find more interesting victims who may not be members of the Friars Club; Flavor Flav is probably not a member.
Roasts are an odd affair, in my opinion. Willing participants sign themselves up to get shit on in public. Comedy Central is in the habit of signing on B-list comedians to do much of the dumping, many of whom it seems neither know the celebrity nor have much of a career outside of these specials (what else do you do, Jeff Ross?) But on occasion, someone that you actually want to see poked fun at, especially when done so by his or her hilarious friends, signs on to get their asses handed to them. You may think that only a crazy person would want their colleagues to make fun of them on television, and so Comedy Central's latest target shouldn't be that shocking: James Franco.
This past Monday, while most of Americans enjoyed their Bud Lights and grilled burgers, Franco's closest friends took turns bashing him, some where even successful at it, although in general they went pretty easy on the guy.
There is no denying that Franco is an oddball. Aside from the fact that he always looks high in interviews and live appearances (was he even at the 2011 Academy Awards?), if you have read anything about him, he just seems like a nut. Not only does he act, direct and edit his own films, he is also a published author, a visual artist and a scholar whose completed degrees at just about every Ivy League university in the country; currently he is enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate at Yale. Yes, that Yale. In addition to that, he's done some other odd things such as guest star repeatedly on the soap opera General Hospital. He even had an art show posing as his own character from the soap while simultaneously holding an art exhibit on his experience being on a soap. When does this guy sleep?
So to roast James Franco, shouldn't be such a difficult ordeal. Additionally, the cast of characters that came to the stage to mock the guy are some of the funniest people in showbiz, Seth Rogan, Adam Samberg, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader and Aziz Ansari, among others. Rogan hosted and he kept the jokes punchy, yet obvious. At one point Rogan said, "James you look sleepy, are you reading a book by James Franco?" Zing!
A lot of the best stuff was the comedians not making fun of Franco but each other or themselves. Samberg did a great irreverent bit where he poked fun at his own idiocies while making his fellow comedians look like good people.
Overall, this may have been the nicest roast I've seen. The hardest Franco got hit was continuously being called gay, and who knows, maybe he is. After each joke it felt like the comedians were apologizing to Franco. At one point Rogan said, "Hey, you asked for this."
Rather than you having to sit through the entire ordeal, here are some of the best five moments and now you can say you watched it. Some of this is NSFW, like if you have speakers and you work in one of those horrible shared office spaces that higher-ups think are more productive. They are not!
5. Natasha Leggero rips Aziz Ansari
4. Bill Hader as the President of Hollywood3. Sarah Silverman On Jonah Hill Being Fat
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2. Seth Rogan Being the Cutest Man Alive
1. The Weird and Wonderful Andy Samberg