If we were to grade the Comedy Central Roast of James Franco overall, we would put it like this: It was better than most comedy that we have seen on television this year, but it was still lacking in comparison to past roasts. Was it a step up from last year’s pretty-dreadful Roast of Roseanne? Sure, but it just felt that most people were too afraid to be mean, and just said some predictable jokes over and over. Even Aziz Ansari called some of them out on it later in the night.
So what we are going to do in reviewing this year’s show is go through these people, and try to grade them on the performances that we saw. Some are so funny that we will watch again, and then some we are probably going to forget about in just a few days’ time.
Seth Rogen – “Bill Hader’s great at impressions. Right now he’s doing a guy who really regrets leaving ‘SNL.'” This was a great joke by Seth, and probably the only one that we remember. He’s a good actor, but he’s not a comic in the same way that Seth MacFarlane was during his multiple stints as Roastmaster. We miss MacFarlane, and we say that as someone who can’t take “Family Guy” longer than two minutes. Grade: C
Nick Kroll – Nick’s pretty funny, but we really think he could have done more to make this set, which occurred earlier in the night, actually stand out by the time the end of the show came around. His reaction shots later on were almost as good as his act itself. Grade: C+
Jonah Hill – He was … Jonah Hill. He was pretty funny, but also not surprising in the least. This is where we realized that most of the people that James is friends with really don’t want to go there and be particularly mean to him. He did seem like a cooler dude when he was not actually performing. Grade: C
Sarah Silverman – We have always found Sarah pretty funny, and while we know that she has new material, it almost feels like she pushed her act so far years ago, that she doesn’t have anywhere left to go. She was the best of the night when she performed, but that was still not saying too much. Grade: B-
Bill Hader – Inventive, and really hilarious in a way that only Bill can be. Too nice a guy to roast as himself, he dressed up as the President of Hollywood: It was a pretty great, pretty creative bit where he was free to do whatever he wanted. It was the first guy who really treated this roast like an the actual roast it is supposed to be. Grade: A-
Natasha Leggero – The real purpose of a roast is to catch everyone completely off guard, and Natasha actually ended up doing that with a serious of jokes that were shocking and hilariously funny. We’ve heard her do podcasts over the years, but we’d never watched her set before. But this was pound-for-pound the funniest set on the night. We’d watch it again in a heartbeat, and hope Comedy Central brings her back in the future. Grade: A
Andy Samberg – This started out painful, and ended kind of funny. It’s definitely not something we would watch again, but given the amount of commitment it took Andy to play this manic guy who was afraid to be mean, we’ll give him a little bit of credit for doing something a little bit different. Grade: B
Aziz Ansari – Probably the biggest letdown of the night to us. While he was funny, his set to be extremely short, and his jokes were almost more social commentary against what everyone else was doing. While some of it was merited, we wish that the “Parks and Recreation” star spent more time actually roasting. Grace: C-
Jeff Ross – Of course, the Roastmaster General was funny, but he was actually better at attacking Jonah Hill than James Franco. We have to give some credit to Jonah here, too, for being so game to take all of these jokes despite some of the talk that he has “changed” since his Oscar nomination. Jeff was crude, and also exactly what we hoped he would be. Grade: A-
Who was your favorite tonight? Be sure to share below! If you want to go back and watch some individual clips from this roast, you can do so over at the link here.
Photo: Comedy Central