To quote the Family Guy theme song, it’s news that’s enough to “make us laugh and cry.” Seth MacFarlane, the showman best known as the creator, writer, and voice actor behind the Fox animated hit, will host the Oscars in February. Devoted Family Guy fans are familiar enough with MacFarlane’s irreverent sense of humor, musical chops, and impressive cinephilic knowledge to judge him a solid choice for the gig. But for those who have never seen his series or who may have missed his recent stint hosting Saturday Night Live, the reaction is more along the lines of “Who?”
Indeed, just last year, MacFarlane laughed off the idea that he’d ever preside over Hollywood’s Biggest Night, telling reporters at Vanity Fair’s Oscar party, “Nobody knows who I am. I think you have to at least be on a cable show first.” Yet the multi-hyphenate, who’s apparently changed his tune on the matter, has been previewing his hosting bona fides for years now, showing up at various lower-profile awards shows to deliver a few jokes or sing a tune. How will this out-of-the-box choice fare on a scale of James Franco to Billy Crystal? A survey of his past awards show bits could offer a clue.
Mike Fail at the 2012 Emmys Is this thing on? MacFarlane dives into his bit as a presenter at September’s Emmy Awards with admirable gusto. The only problem: he walked to the wrong mark onstage, and there was no microphone picking up his banter. After being corrected by a stage manager, MacFarlane shuffled over to the proper microphone, improvised a joke about skipping rehearsal, and in the process created one of the most memorable moments of the ceremony.
Stewie and Brian Sing at the 2007 Emmys MacFarlane’s first big Emmy moment was less visible—he did not appear on the telecast. He did, however, provide the voice of smarmy tot Stewie for a musical number in which the Family Guy character and his talking dog, Brian, sing about how trashy TV has become. “Never before in history have we had such a wide selection of trash,” Stewie sings, burning through a roster of TV hits including Two and a Half Men, The Sopranos, and Desperate Housewives in the process.
‘Trouble’ at the 2010 WGA Awards This won’t be MacFarlane’s first time emceeing an awards show in front of the Hollywood filmmaking crowd, though his first go-round was decidedly less A-list. The performer presided over the 2010 Writers Guild Awards—West Coast feed—held not at the lavish Kodak Center but at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Still, MacFarlane sold a zinger-filled musical number about the declining quality of TV writing, a recurring theme with him, apparently. The song was set to the tune of “Trouble” from The Music Man—a choice that would seem much more clever had Conan O’Brien not done the exact same thing at the 2006 Emmy Awards.
Speech at the 2010 Teen Choice AwardsThe academy’s desperate struggle to capture the eyeballs of a younger demographic has led to some ... questionable decisions over the past few years: Miley Cyrus as presenter? High School Musical’s stars in a production number? Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts? Whether MacFarlane joins that list of fiascos remains to be seen, but he does bring with him a proven cachet with younger audiences, thanks to Family Guy. Watch as he elicits a few chuckles while accepting the award for Best Animated Show at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards.
Roasting Charlie SheenIf MacFarlane goes the Ricky Gervais hosting route and spends his opening monologue roasting the celebrities in attendance, the nominees had better brace themselves. As MacFarlane proved while serving as a roast master for last year’s Charlie Sheen roast on Comedy Central—an awards show of sorts, but for the disgraced—MacFarlane has a knack for wince-inducing zingers and brutal comedy that could leave more than one Hollywood ego bruised.
Funny in 5 Words at the 2009 Webby Awards One of the most difficult tasks facing an Oscar host is striking the appropriate balance of obeisance to the hallowed Hollywood proceedings and irreverence for the stuffiness of the pomp and circumstance. It may have been only five words, but MacFarlane’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Webby Awards—which puts a five-word quota on speeches—hints that he may be able to toe that line more gracefully than many recent Oscar hosts.
Talking God at the Harvard Humanist of the Year Awards Anyone familiar with MacFarlane only through cursory viewing of Family Guy may think his sense of humor bottoms out with fart and poop jokes. But as he shows while accepting the 2011 Harvard Humanist of the Year award, MacFarlane is capable of tackling tricky, heady subject matter—such as religion, God, and atheism—with smart, brazen material.
Where’s My Emmy?A crucial part of the awards season is campaigning, and MacFarlane has consistently proved to be avant garde—and hilarious—about the way he’s gone about it for Family Guy at the Emmys. When the show received a landmark nomination for Outstanding Comedy in 2009, rising out of the Outstanding Animated Series ghetto, MacFarlane created a YouTube channel featuring bloody (and blisteringly funny) video clips eviscerating the other nominees, including The Office. “Eat Schrute and die.”
‘Family Guy’ Takes on the OscarsSure, it’s not a clip of MacFarlane at an awards show, but this short scene in which Family Guy makes fun of the Oscars could offer a glimpse at the awards-related humor in store from MacFarlane in February. In the clip, Family Guy’s lovable oaf of a patriarch says he stuffed the ballot box at the Oscars. The scene then cuts to the reading of the Best Actor nominees: Grover, Bluto from Popeye, a red guy, a boob, and, of course, Daniel Day-Lewis. With Day-Lewis likely to figure into this year’s race for his performance in Lincoln, it’s a joke that could be recycled.