Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy
by Jon Bastian
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I’ve been a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane’s work ever since the premiere of Family Guy ten years ago, by which I was instantly hooked. It took me a little longer to get into his follow-up series American Dad, but it eventually won me over as well. He has a unique sensibility that plays high brow and low brow at the same time and takes no prisoners with its gleeful anarchy. A criticism that has been leveled against him by people who aren’t fans of Family Guy is that the show loves to take off in non-sequitors that come out of left field but, to me, that’s half the fun of the show; never knowing what’s going to happen next. It’s a tradition that has noble roots – Monty Python, anyone? – and allows MacFarlane to comment on a wide range of topics that would never fit into a “normal” show.
If you do like the anarchic nature of his broadcast shows, then you’ll love Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, now on DVD. Containing 50 animated shorts culled from his online series (or absolutely not suitable for TV play), it’s short attention-span theatre for those who are not easily offended and, if you’re not the prudish sort, you will laugh your ass off. Whether it’s a perverted frog taking advantage of hopeful princesses, a rock climber whose sudden need to relieve himself wreaks havoc on a wedding, a sheep who really, really likes to be sheared, or any of the dozens of other characters and situations presented herein, you’ll guffaw, you’ll cringe, you’ll chortle, you’ll wonder how far MacFarlane and company can push the envelope. Well – they don’t just push it. They stamp it, lick it and shove it in the box, repeatedly. This is a good thing.
It’s hard to review this style of comedy, because to describe too much of anything would blunt the effect, although the material does range from completely unexpected to the setting up of slow train-wrecks. Standouts include “Small Talk with Aunt Helen”, in which a casual reunion conversation takes a very wrong turn into an explicit description of alternate uses for saved wedding cake; “Die, Roadrunner, Die” which finds Wile E. Coyote finally achieving his dream only to learn that his life is now meaningless; “Sex with (fill in the blank)”, a running series involving everyone and everything including Sulu, a midget, a Senator and a tube of toothpaste; and many other delights. There are a few outright parodies as well, as when we’re presented with four years of Entourage in ten seconds, or find out what really happened when Mario finally got to the right tower to rescue the Princess. It’s a non-stop, fast-paced 53 minutes that will leave you wanting more when it’s over, completely uncut, uncensored and uninhibited, and a total must-have for any MacFarlane fanatic.
Jon Bastian is a native and resident of Los Angeles. Watch for his upcoming play “Strange Fruit”, which he hopes will help him keep his two dogs rolling in kibble…
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