Exclusive: How Comedy Central is bringing the ‘Roast of James Franco’ to fans’ fingertips

By Natan Edelsburg 

The Comedy Central ‘Roast’ franchise has become one of the only good things that happens as the summer comes to an end. This year, former Freaks and Geeks star, James Franco was roasted. The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco will air this Monday (Labor Day) at 10pm Eastern. Lost Remote has exclusively learned about the multi-screen social TV experiences that will be bringing the roast to fans fingertips. We spoke with Steve Grimes, Comedy Central’s SVP of Multiplatform Strategy and Development about the highly anticipated humiliation of James Franco

Working with James Franco to make the ‘Roast’ social before, during and after:

Franco has had an interesting experience with social TV. Back in 2011 the actor joined Twitter on the eve of his Oscar hosting responsibilities. Shortly after he quit Twitter. eventually returning to the club. In honor of the Roast he made the announcement via an Instagram video, an extremely impressive use of the new platform for social TV. Grimes described that, “James has been very participatory himself, he did the announcement on Instagram,” and that it’s,  “really nice to have talent on board that understands this world. Franco also posted pictures from the red carpet before the recent taping of the Roast.

Involving Grandma Mitzie in the Roast:

Franco’s 91 year old grandma was even flown out to LA by Comedy Central for the taping where he gave “the them [the roasters] insights to what James was like as a child,” according to Grimes. This is the perfect type of shareable and meaningful content that social TV is going to love.

Building a unified multi-screen social TV experience:

According to the announcement, the network’s content “will be expanded to multiple screens with a livestream and an exclusive red carpet pre-show across CC.com, mobile, tablets and on its CC:Stand-Up app on Xbox 360.   COMEDY CENTRAL will also leverage its social platforms and encourage fans to share their favorite #FrancoRoast moments with the real-time release of video clips and animated GIFs on CC.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Tumblr.  For the 11:30 p.m. encore presentation, fans will be treated to a social version of the special featuring real-time tweets and Facebook posts on-screen.”

Grimes described that, “whether you’re following social activity on Facebook, on Twitter, On Vine, or on Instagram,” they will be pushing out content on those platforms and allow you to share with your friends to really be part of the experience.

The benefits of not airing the Roast live:

Comedy Central has purposely never aired the Roasts live. Grimes told Lost Remote that,  “the benefits of nit not being live is thatwe’ve already seen it. We’re packaging up those [shareable]moments, so people can have a pre-packaged clip to share very close to real-time.” He also described that, “people love to watch the roast,” when it airs for the first time so we can expect to “see all the social activity pumped at the bottom of the screen.” They’ll be using a number of curation tools to make this possible.

Using an 8-bit video game to promote on social in advance of the airing:

“CC.com also just launched ‘#FrancoRoast Fight,’ an 8-bit video game that gives fans the chance to knock-out their favorite Franco character,” according to their announcement.

This well-thought out strategy is sure to make an already amazing Roast one of Comedy Central’s most successful social TV events ever.