They ripped him for his Oscar hosting performance, for his varied roles, for his poetry, the sexuality of his screen characters and his artistic paintings. They even knocked his grandmother.
But James Franco insisted he came out on top of the Comedy Central Roast of James Franco filmed Sunday night at Culver Studios.
“It didn’t hurt,” Franco proclaimed after the show. “If you’re going to do this kind of thing, you should just be ready for whatever. It’s not like I haven’t heard criticism about my performance in the Oscars. Or jokes about my choice of gay roles.”
“I feel great and I feel everyone was awesome,” he added.
During the show, which will air Sept. 2 at 10 ET/PT, Franco withstood attacks from friends Jonah Hill and roast master Seth Rogen. Aziz Ansari, Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader and Andy Samberg along with comedians Nick Kroll, Jeff Ross and Sarah Silverman also joined in, throwing barbs at each other and, mostly, at Franco.
Franco’s poorly received performance as Oscar host in 2011 alongside Anne Hathaway was a point of constant attention.
Ross, who dressed up like Franco’s Spring Breakers character with a gold tooth-grill and dreadlocks, summed up the other roasters’ sentiments.
“You never really said what was going on that night, man,” Ross said to Franco. “You were like Billy Crystal-meth. You were a worse host than the AIDS monkey. The academy should have known when you combined Anne Hathaway and James Franco you get Anne Franco, which makes sense since you should have gone into hiding after that.”
“Face it, Franco, you and Anne Hathaway had the comedic chemistry of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman,” Ross added.
Hill, too, jumped on Franco’s Oscar performance saying, “Everyone is going to make fun of James for the Oscars, it’s so obvious. Everyone was like, ‘James was dead up there.’ But that was Anne Hathaway’s fault.”
Rogen seemed increasingly ill-at-ease at the roasting microphone after starting off the barb-fest for his friend and Freaks and Geeks co-star. As the night went on, he appeared at the podium with a beer and announced, “I started drinking ever since I finished my monologue.”
But Franco managed to continue laughing through squinted eyes (a feature that many roasters mocked) throughout the entire roasting as his family — including actor brother Dave and grandmother Mitzie, 92, looked on.
The lowest moment of the night might have come when Ross aimed a joke at Franco’s grandmother noting that she had “127 hours” to live, a sharp pun on the name of a Franco movie. The comment caused Franco to wince onstage.
During his final comments from the stage, Franco shook it all off and appeared good-natured, muttering, “What a weird night.”
“I do think this is my punishment for the Oscars,” he added. “America and the rest of the world can have a cathartic moment after this airs.”
He then launched into an attack at the people onstage who just roasted him. His final comment from the stage were jokingly defiant. The show had actually been an art project, he insisted.
“I call this ‘Genius Unscathed’ and this is my masterpiece,” Franco said, before spray-painting a lewd note to the crowd.