Seth MacFarlane, creator, producer and voice of the popular animated series’ “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” shared jokes and wisdom with a crowd of fans at the Smith Center Saturday night.
Audience members filling about half of the Smith Center were treated to a preview of Sunday night’s “Family Guy” episode and were able to ask MacFarlane questions. One man reverently removed his hat before asking MacFarlane a question while others took a more light-hearted approach.
MacFarlane said he loves screening episodes with an audience, but his favorite part of doing comedy acts is to use it to measure success.
“We’ll know when we start to suck,” he said.
One popular story MacFarlane told at the event was an explanation of how he broke into comedy. According to MacFarlane, he was born in Kent, Conn., to “pot-smoking parents” and became a cartoonist for a local paper at an early age.
He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he began working on a student film titled “The Life of Larry.” After seeing his work in progress, one of MacFarlane’s professors urged him to strive for deeper self-expression because he had only accomplished a lot of bathroom humor.
“But that is exactly who I am,” MacFarlane said. “I want to teach the world about shit.”
In addition to discussing his history as a comedian, MacFarlane also explained the trials of writing, editing and producing even one half-hour episode of “Family Guy.” He said each episode takes nine to 11 months to create in light of his goal to make each new episode funnier than the last. However, MacFarlane added that it is difficult to stay on the cutting edge of hard comedy without the Federal Communications Commission enforcing the removal of “poop jokes that will tear our society to pieces if we use them.”
In terms of writing material for the shows, MacFarlane said he and his fellow writers rely on “sleep deprivation” for inspiration, which MacFarlane said has effects similar to that of drugs or alcohol.
MacFarlane also told the audience to expect an overlap between “Family Guy” and “American Dad” on “Family Guy’s” 100th episode.
“I was 24 years old when the show started, and I was just thrilled for the shot,” MacFarlane said. “If it didn’t work out, at least I could know I took a whack at it.”