Comedian Guy Branum was recently on the TV show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell railing against the Comedy Central Roast of James Franco. There seems to be some debate over his take on the subject. Some people are applauding Guy, while others aggressively defend the roast. Take a look:
Guy Branum is right, Everyone– The gay jokes about James Franco were absolutely tasteless.
As were all the jokes about Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, and Jeff Ross being overweight.
As were the abundance of Jew-bashing jokes.
As were the jokes attacking Sarah Silverman’s age.
As were the jokes slut-shaming Sarah Silverman, Natasha Leggero, and James Franco.
In fact, I think an argument could be made that every joke told was inappropriate and insensitive.
Every. Single. One.
Almost as though that were the point of a “Comedy Central Roast.”
Like people are supposed to say awful, inappropriate, disrespectful things in the name of comedy. And no one takes it seriously… Because they know not to.
If you really want to debate the amount, style, or vulgarity of gay jokes at the Franco Roast, let’s look at the examples from the “Totally Biased” clip.
The Seth Rogan joke about James Franco playing James Dean: “…makes sense because they both sucked some dicks and made three good movies.” To be fair, that exact same joke could be said when comparing James Dean and Angelina Jolie (or some other actress) and still get a laugh. In which case, the punch revolves around “three good films.” Comedy 101 tells us that the reason those words come last is because they are the most important part of the joke. The fellatio part is buried in the middle. Additionally, if blowjobs alone would invite comparison to James Dean, there would be a lot more people comparing Guy Branum to James Dean.
Jeff Ross said, “Personally, I don’t care if you fuck guys or if you fuck girls.” Hmmmm… I don’t see any gay insult there. Do you?
Sarah Silverman said, “I don’t necessarily think James is gay or straight…” Again, she’s indifferent about his sexuality, not attacking it.
Finally, the point Aziz was making highlighted how absurd it is to call someone gay for superficial reasons, such as hygiene and intelligence: “…you think if you read one book and take a shower, dicks are just going to fly into your face…”
And… Those were the clips! Those were the only examples given. You’d think that if the James Franco roast were so saturated with gay-jokes, surely the professionals who assembled this montage could have shown more definitive proof, some sort of evidence of the wrongdoing.
If you disagree with me, then I offer this challenge: Show me any “gay joke” from the James Franco roast and I will explain why it hinges on more than just, “Ha, ha! He has sex with men!” The comment section is below.
I think the heart of Guy’s argument was more about the sheer number of jokes about Franco’s sexuality. Why was that hammered upon, over and over? Well, I don’t know where the line is for “too many” or “too few” gay-jokes. And I don’t know how that amount differs in the context of a roast.
But, I wonder, what if there hadn’t been any jokes about his sexuality? He’s played numerous gay characters. He’s simulated gay sex acts on film. He’s dressed in drag on multiple occasions. He just directed a “homo-sex-art-film.” It doesn’t take much of a stretch to connect “James Franco” and “gay.” But, what if all of that had been ignored?
Couldn’t some boisterous personality take to the television airwaves clamoring about discrimination because the roast avoided any link between the celebrity and homosexuality? Publicly speculating about how that part of his life was intentionally omitted because it was too shameful/disgusting/offensive/etc? What would prevent anyone from making that claim?
I think we can all agree that too many gay-jokes is bad, but no gay-jokes is also bad. So, how do you measure the proper amount of gay-jokes? Like all comedy preferences, the answer is subjective. And when the answer doesn’t suit someone’s liking, they attack the source of the comedy.
Am I surprised that Kamau would allow such a comedy-bashing stance on his comedy program?
Do I agree with Guy Branum’s narrow opinion on which subject(s) should be highlighted and which should be overlooked when it comes to a roast?
Do I find his comedic take on the subject to be acceptable?
Yes, I do. I approve of this whole-heartedly!
Why? Because, Guy Branum had a stubborn, one-sided opinion. He ignored all of the inherent hypocrisy of his statement and defiantly persisted with his non-nuanced, singular view-point. He was pigheaded in pursuit of his own agenda and his misrepresentation of the event. It was absurd!! Almost as if he were acting knowingly biased… Like 100%, all-encompassingly biased…
Almost as though that were the point of “Totally Biased.”
Like people are supposed to say one-sided, hypocritical, partisan things in name of comedy. And no one takes it seriously… Because they know not to.
My conclusion: The Roast did exactly what it was supposed to. And Guy Branum responded in a manner, exactly as he was supposed to.
Both were perfect in their own contexts, despite being complete opposites.
If you want to debate these two out of context, you are being stupid.
Instead, calm down and have a sandwich.
PS: Full disclosure, I’ve been friends with W. Kamau Bell and Guy Branum for over a decade. Additionally, my girlfriend, Vanessa Ramos, was a writer on the roast. So, I have plenty of reason to find middle-ground on this topic. But, as a comedian, the logic of the situation is enough to keep me calm while anyone else gets worked up.