Comedy Central will roast James Franco on Labor Day, the Viacom-owned network announced this morning. But Franco-fans had known about it since late Tuesday, via Franco, via Instagram. “Hey ya’ll wassup I’m gonna get roasted on Comedy Central be sure to check it out. They wanted me to tell you that — a’ight hahaha,” he mumbled at his legions of followers. Then he slowly ran his tongue over his teeth. Comedy Central, in its announcement, said it would tape the roast of the “Academy-nominated actor-director-writer-producer-artist” next month in LA. And, in one of those incredible coincidences, the Franco-co-directed documentary about Franco, called Francophrenia, will debut exclusively on Comedy Central digital and VOD platforms immediately after the network telecasts the roast.
Franco will attempt to topple the roast ratings record set by Charlie Sheen in 2011. Comedy Central timed that one to immediately follow the season debut of CBS’ Two And A Half Men in which Sheen’s character slipped on a Metro platform in Paris, fell in front of an oncoming train and exploded like “a balloon full of meat,” ending his tumultuous career with show creator Chuck Lorre. The roast attracted 6.4 million viewers — a record for the franchise. The killing off of Sheen’s Charlie Harper and replacement with eye-candy upgrade Ashton Kutcher, however, clocked 30 million — the biggest season-debut crowd for any scripted programming on TV since 2005.
But it’s not just about ratings. Artistically, Franco will have to upstage Roseanne Barr — last year’s roastee — who famously capped off the evening by singing the last bits of the “Star-Spangled Banner” to demonstrate she could sing the anthem and that when she’d botched it at a nationally broadcast baseball game in 1990 it was performance art.