Either you’ve already surrendered your ticket money to Seth MacFarlane this weekend or you’re avoiding A Million Ways to Die in the West like its an outbreak of Scarlet Fever. (Of course there’s also that middle group of us who prefer to save our intake of sh*t jokes for cross-country in-flight movies.)
For more on those sh*t jokes, check out Vince’s review of what to expect, spoiler alert: Gilbert Gottfried cowboy jizz. The purpose of this post is to shed a little light on the mastermind behind those western poop jokes. Seth MacFarlane might be the reigning king of crude comedy, but his original dream was to work on aspirations actually began with working on wholesome Disney flicks. More on that further down, but first, let’s start at the beginning.
1. The illustration bug hit him early. Like a lot of illustrators, Seth MacFarlane began drawing as a child, developing a love of drawing by age 2. At 8 years-old, MacFarlane had his first comic strip “Walter Crouton” published in Connecticut newspaper, The Kent Dispatch.
2. He was almost on American Airlines Flight 11. MacFarlane had a ticket for American Airlines Flight 11 that was of course hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center on 9/11. His agent had mistakenly told him the flight was scheduled to depart at 8:15 am instead of its scheduled departure of 7:45 am, causing him to miss the flight. MacFarlane told NPR that he views the life-saving mistake as just another flight he was late to:
“I think of it as, I’m living the same way in 2011 as I was in 1999. And the reason for that is I had missed a lot of flights.”
“So in my case, obviously the day itself was a tragedy and a disaster, but if we’re just talking about my case, it doesn’t strike me as something that I am attaching an unbelievable amount of significance to because of those reasons — because I have missed a bunch of flights.”
3. MacFarlane is a skilled pianist and released an album of classic standards. The comedy writer often unwinds at the end of the day by playing Frank Sinatra tunes on the 9-foot Bosendorfer piano in his home. His love of “Old Blue Eyes” extends beyond just home performances. In 2011, he released a Grammy-nominated album of classic standards titled, Music Is Better Than Words that he recorded using a microphone used by Sinatra and with vocal coaching by two of Sinatra’s former teachers.
4. Being an animator for Disney was his original aspiration. Before MacFarlane ever had the idea of creating his own show, he wanted to be an animator for Disney, inspired by the success they were having with movies in the late 1980s. It wasn’t until The Simpsons came along that he switched gears to animation for an “adult” audience:
“Disney was having their renaissance in the film world with movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. And that was what I wanted to do, and then here comes The Simpsons, who said, ‘Hey, you can also do this. We’re rewriting the rule book with regard for what you can do on television.’ And I was laughing. This was something that actually was for me. It wasn’t for a family audience.”
5. He’s named after the town drunk. MacFarlane’s middle name, Woodbury, follows a long tradition of men on his mother’s side who carry the name. MacFarlane said that when he asked his grandfather about the name’s origins, his grandfather told him that his great-grandmother had given him the name because she thought the town drunk was the funniest man she had ever met and Woodbury was his name.
6. Clint Eastwood was the inspiration for A Million Ways to Die in the West. The idea for West came to MacFarlane and writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild while taking a break from working on Ted to watch the Eastwood classic, Hang ‘Em High. Considering the romanticism of the genre and the reality of the true west, it’s easy to see why the found the era ripe for parody.
“It was an unbelievably depressing and dangerous time and it was funny to us that while it was so romanticized it was also so treacherous – you literally took your life in your hands when you visited a doctor. The story took off from there.” via Telegraph