Comedy Central is going to roast James Franco. Let that sink in for a second. Okay. On the one hand, this is great news. Why didn't anyone think of this sooner? Maybe they were just waiting for his schedule to clear up, but there hasn't been such a roast-worthy subject since Charlie "Tiger Blood" Sheen took the stage after #WINNING became the hashtag of choice for bros and high schoolers. It's hard to think of another pop culture figure better suited to be mocked on TV for an hour than Franco; there's just so much material. Though, you can have too much of a good thing. Sheen's roast, for all its potential, was more or less just an hour of drug use jokes ( "How much blow can Charlie Sheen do? Enough to kill two and a half men." Etc.)
This time around, we'd like to see Comedy Central get things right. Specifically, we'd like to not hear a bunch of jokes about how much weed Franco smokes. Here are all the subjects the roast will likely cover, and a few gems we hope they don't miss, but probably will.
We'll Most Likely Hear Jokes About:
- The Oscars and Anne Hathaway: This is the sort of easy, common knowledge, forever embarrassing screw up that roasts specialize in. Even though it was a while ago—James and Anne have moved on—we can guess the roasters haven't forgotten.
- Spring Breakers: Another easy target. James Franco in cornrows and grills running around with half-naked Disney Channel stars. Cue the pedo jokes, most likely.
- Pineapple Express, Your Highness, Drugs, etc.: Someone will probably tell Franco he looks high. Because, well, he mostly likely will.
- How Often He Masturbates: Four-to-five times a day sometimes, by his count. The joke isn't how often, it's that he felt the need to tell a journalist.
We Might Hear Jokes About:
- James Franco as Hugh Hefner: Lovelace isn't out yet, and there isn't enough of him in the trailer to tell if he's believable, but James Franco as Hef just seems like something someone should make fun of.
- The Time He Taught a Class About Himself: In January 2011 he released a press release for "Master Class: Editing James Franco...with James Franco," to be taught at a private film school in Hollywood. The class was dedicated to creating a 30 minute documentary based on his "unorthodox" career. If we don't hear any jokes about this, it's only because no one remembers.
- That Time He Got a D in Acting Class: James Franco is primarily known as an actor, but he has almost as many degrees as he does acting awards. So it might be worth cracking a few jokes about the time his acting professor gave him a D for not showing up to class. Or the fact that Franco got the professor fired for doing what any good professor would do to an absentee student.
We Probably Won't Hear About:
- His Art Exhibits: Only true Francophiles would appreciate any barbs related to his art and the themes he goes after, like his GAY TOWN exhibit, which “explore[d] a variety of themes that are central to Franco’s artistic practice” including "adolescence, public and private persona, stereotypes" and our fascination with celebrity. Then there's Daddy, the spoken word Motown band he formed with a RISD classmate. You could, and should, do something with that, Comedy Central.
- General Hospital: Franco played Robert James "Franco" Frank, a multimedia artist turned [SPOILER] serial killer. How did he end up on General Hospital? As he explained to the New Yorker back in 2010:
He and [a friend] talked about making another movie, in which he would play a character who is an actor on a soap opera. “I said, ‘What if I really did that? Wouldn’t that be interesting?’ ” Franco said. “My manager represents Steve Burton”—the Mafia hit man on “General Hospital”—“and we called them and said I’d like to be on the show. They were very happy. They said, ‘You can do anything—what kind of part would you like to play?’ I wanted their full treatment, so all I said was that I wanted to be an artist and I wanted my character to be crazy.”
It's not hard to imagine someone making a "life imitating art" joke out of this, but they would have to have actually seen Franco's work on General Hospital. Which most people haven't.
- His Writing Career: Jokes doubling as literary criticism are probably outside of a Comedy Central roast's scope, but Franco didn't get all those MFA degrees for nothing. He's nearly as prolific a writer as he is everything else. He has Palo Alto, his short story collection about troubled teens. Then there's his poetry chapbook, Strongest of the Litter—the cover is a photo of his Spring Breakers character. And then there's the poem Yahoo commissioned from him for Obama's inauguration (video below). Best lines: "When Obama entered/ The crowd converged. Finally, I got to shake his hand,/He knew me from Spider-Man." Honestly, it's hard to say what the exact joke would be here. Sometimes it's just funny that something exists.