Beauty and the Best

Television Review

Comedy Central’s James Franco Roast

blogEntryTopperWhile I spent more time smirking than outright laughing, there are some true comedic gems in this Comedy Central special.

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The best of the bunch without question is Bill Hader as a fictional character called The King of Hollywood, who he describes as “an old Jew in a sweat suit.” We learn that King is the behind-the-scenes guru pulling the rabbits out of the hat in Hollywood. All knowing and omnipotent, Hader delivers the King with a deadpan, low bass growl that is in itself comical. Hader roasts everyone, but his lampooning of the man of the hour is hilarious. “You made me like Anne Hathaway, you lazy dick!” he barks about Franco’s infamous Oscar hosting gig. And then, admonishing Franco for his propensity for starring in artsy, unappealing films (which the Kings sees as ungracious) he riffs: “I’ll tell you what I told Richard Greico 20 years ago… Play ball you squinty fuck! Or you will disappear…”

Next in line is Jonah Hill, who has a sweaty desperation to his stand up delivery that is both endearing and sincere (he doesn’t seem too comfortable with all of this to stop trying). His jokes about Aziz Ansari’s desperation to be famous and Jeff Ross’s lack of success (“you’re like the ghost of me and Seth’s future if we never made it” ) are pretty funny.

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Aziz brings a pleasant break from all the jokes about Jews and Franco’s latent homosexuality and shows just how clever and fresh his approach is. He rightfully skewers some unknown female comic named Natasha Leggero after she stooped to some tasteless jokes to get a laugh. He also turns the whole Indian stereotype on its head, commenting that the jokes are dated. “There’s more Indian dudes doing sitcoms than running 7-11’s… My last three roles were Randy, Chip and Tom!”

SNL alum Adam Samberg does an odd number that isn’t actually funny, but is delivered in such a punchy manner - implying we’re all missing out on some inside joke - that it induces smiles.

Weakest of the bunch, interestingly, is James Franco. But by and large, this is an entertaining hour from some of the cream of Hollywood’s current comedic crop.

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