Animation allows for greater creative freedom

‘American Dad’ not as political anymore | MacFarlane finds offbeat projects | Cast reflects on ‘Dad’ production | ‘Dad’ working on the syndie side

For 100 episodes, the cast of “American Dad” has been enjoying a life many would envy — short hours, getting away with comedy murder and hanging out with the Renaissance man himself, Seth MacFarlane. We asked for and got the scoop on the life of an “American Dad” voice actor.

Scott Grimes

Q: Is working on an animated show as cushy as it sounds?
A: “You go in an hour a week but yet at the end of six years you’re still like, ‘Oh, God! I gotta go in and do an hour!’ You still end up complaining, but, yes, it’s 100% horribly cushy.”

Q: Are you surprised at how much you can get away with in animation?
A: “Just as far as standard and practices, I can’t believe what they will let a drawn character get away with that a real character can’t. It must have something to do with we don’t see them as real people, so they can say whatever they want.”

Q: Your favorite Seth-related anecdote?
A: “The first day I met him, I was driving my car and he was in the passenger seat, and out of nowhere, I had this sharp pain up in my chest area, and I grab my hand to the side to the side of my chest and went, ‘Ow!’ And immediately — he doesn’t even look at me — he looks forward and goes, ‘It’s gas.’ I went, ‘What?’ He says: ‘It’s gas. You see, Scott, we have all these intestines that go throughout your entire body and what you had was a little explosion of gas that felt like a heart attack, but it’s gas.’ And I laughed my ass off and he wasn’t even kidding.”

Wendy Schaal

Q: Is working on an animated show as cushy as it sounds?
A: “Yes, in terms of time. Doing an hourlong drama, you can spend 14, 16 hours a day going through makeup, driving to locations, working in all kinds of weather conditions. I’ve done it all. With this, you don’t spend anywhere near that kind of time and of course you get to be indoors all the time.”

Q: Are you surprised at how much you can get away with in animation?
A: “Yes. I really thought that it was kind of a list of rules, where you could say this but you can’t say that, but in fact it’s not that way, as I learned as we went along. It’s really negotiable with standards and practices, and a lot of it depends on the setting and the set of circumstances in which something is said.”

Q: Your favorite Seth-related anecdote?
A: “We were at Comic-Con sitting on the panel and somebody from the audience asked me a question and I had no idea what they were talking about. … Seth, at the other end of the table, realized that it was a reference to lyrics in the main song of a series that I did 30 years ago called ‘It’s a Living.’ And not only did he know they were referring to the lyrics on that show, he had the song it in his phone and had it up playing on the microphone in about 10 seconds.”

Dee Bradley Baker

Q: Is working on an animated show as cushy as it sounds?
A: “Compared to (acting) on-camera it certainly is. You don’t have to sit in a trailer all day, you don’t have to memorize your lines, you just go in to do a table read, which is pretty quick, and then you go in to record.”

Q: Are you surprised at how much you can get away with in animation?
A: “I’m thrilled with how much that we can get away with it in animation. People think of the Fox network as having a more conservative bent, but they certainly let this show go as far as it wants to, and it goes after everybody.”

Q: Your favorite Seth-related anecdote?
A: “I found it very funny he was tweeting about Rosemary Clooney, and telling all his half-million followers to download a particular Bing Crosby-Rosemary Clooney album. He’s not telling them to get the latest Lady Gaga single; he’s like, ‘Let’s go back 50 years and go get a Clooney-Crosby album off of iTunes.'”

Rachael MacFarlane

Q: Is working on an animated show as cushy as it sounds?
A: “I feel bad saying yes to that question, but I’m not going to lie. It’s a pretty sweet gig.”

Q: Are you surprised at how much you can get away with in animation?
A: “It’s shocking. There’s so many times during table reads where there will be something that will make you think, ‘This will never make it into the show in a million years.’ And then it will and it absolutely blows me away.”

Q: Your favorite Seth-related anecdote?
A: “Seth has a tendency to do the table reads cold because he’s really talented and he can do it. … And it’s really funny when from time to time — it happens once in a blue moon — where he’ll read a Stan line as a Roger line, and most of the time everybody just cracks up and starts clapping, because he never messes up.”

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