James Franco gets roasted on Comedy Central

James Franco (WENN.COM file photo)

James Franco (WENN.COM file photo)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:36 PM ET

James Franco is the gift that keeps on squinting.

At one point during The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco, which airs across Canada Monday, Sept. 2 on the Comedy Network, roaster Nick Kroll has this to say about the man of the hour:

"Quick reminder, if at any point tonight James fully opens his eyes, there will be six more weeks of summer."

Hmmm, I guess autumn is just around the corner.

Franco is the latest in a long line of celebrities who have been roasted over the past decade, taking his place alongside Roseanne Barr, Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, David Hasselhoff, Joan Rivers, Larry the Cable Guy, William Shatner, Pamela Anderson, Bob Saget, Flavor Flav, Jeff Foxworthy and Denis Leary.

The format recalls the Dean Martin celebrity roasts, but the modern versions are way more R-rated. Sex, race, drugs, profanity, vulgarity, depravity, everything is on the table now.

So you won't have to think very hard to figure out the kind of stuff Franco faces from roasters Seth Rogen (who hosts), Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Sarah Silverman, Jeff Ross, Aziz Ansari, Natasha Leggero and Kroll.

Franco's performance when he co-hosted the Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway in 2011 remains legendary for all the wrong reasons. Ross has a rather cutting line about the "comedic chemistry" of Franco and Hathaway. I won't spoil it for you, but it has to do with a highly controversial recent news event.

There are Oscar quips aplenty, and also tons of jokes about Franco's sexuality. When he was interviewed after the roast (it was recorded about a week ago), Franco said that it's not as if he hasn't heard jokes about the Oscars or his choice of gay roles before, so he was prepared for what was coming.

Considered in its entirety, and biting comments from individual roasters notwithstanding, the tone of the Franco roast is fairly cordial.

In this new era, the high points for me were the Anderson roast in 2005 and the Shatner roast in 2006. From a viewers' perspective, those ones seemed to have the right mix of shameless, shocking and hilarious. And you got the impression that all the people on the stage were not necessarily the best of buddies, and that added a bit of edge to the proceedings, too.

Honestly, since the Anderson and Shatner roasts, each subsequent effort has been trying to live up to those two, and not quite making it. There are great lines at every roast, without question. But even the Sheen roast in 2011 wasn't on the same knife's edge as the Anderson and Shatner soirees.

Cutlery aside, some might argue that Franco, 35, isn't really old enough, or famous enough, to be roasted at this stage of his career.

But did you watch the Oscars in 2011? That alone set up James Franco for a lifetime of jokes, whether he's squinting or secretly wincing.

CAUTION: ADULT LANGUAGE


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