Reminder: 'Family Guy' Used to Be Hilarious
Right now, at least 2-3 people are indirectly calling Einstein a bitch by breaking the speed of light while rushing to the comment section to talk about how "ironic" it is for Cracked to accuse anyone of no longer being funny. But the unfunniest thing in existence (which would be your grandma after she died failing to save a puppy with terminal cancer from drowning) could tell you that current Family Guy isn't that good anymore, and they'd be right. Sure, humor is subjective, so let's try to look at it objectively by examining the latest FG episode (at the time of this writing), "Tales of Former Sports Glory," from Season 19.
Here are all the jokes from the first three minutes of that episode: poetry is boring, men should not like Gilmore Girls, Fidel Castro wore the same outfit often, and a joke about how the Castro joke was lazy, whiiiiiich, nope, still doesn't make it funny. The timing is also really off in that episode, having the comedic rhythm of a drunken drum solo played on your grandma's coffin (it had to be closed-casket cause her corpse hit some really jagged rocks after it was swept away.)
But here's the thing. I hate tearing things down. In fact, I like to think that my writing niche is looking for the good in all things cinematic. I actually praised Family Guy before for an episode where they teach you some solid techniques for talking to suicidal people. Which, you know, isn't funny but also kind of is because of how out of left field that entire lesson was. And the only reason why I give a crap about a show in its 19th season not being that funny anymore is that I really believe that the first three seasons of Family Guy are absolutely hilarious.
Again, let's look at it objectively. In the first three minutes of the show's first episode, "Death Has a Shadow," there are 11 jokes ranging from the absurd to satirical and deliciously blasphemous, like God sitting through mass and being embarrassed by some of the stories from the Old Testament. And those jokes really work because … Well, it's like this: there's a joke in season 6 of Family Guy where someone makes Meg watch "178 hours of Monty Python stuff that isn't funny or memorable," and one of them is a sketch about a guy with a pet hedgehog named Zippy who says "Boing, boing, boing" as he walks.
That's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it does show a good understanding of Monty Python cause, yeah, when their stuff was good, it was legendary, but a lot of their material was basically a Zippy-Boing-Boing. So Family Guy got MP, which is why a lot of its early stuff has a Python-esque quality to it. It stole from the best of Monty Python for the content of its cutaway gags, while the idea of non-sequitur jokes dotting a sitcom-like plot was shamelessly though skillfully taken from the early Simpsons. All of that stuff was eventually so overused that it became unbearable, but it can't be denied that Family Guy once understood the comedic greats that came before it and stole from them with some solid comedic timing.
If you love the newer Family Guy, great. I, for whatever reason, genuinely enjoy the movie The Postman (the one where Kevin Costner plays a post-apocalyptic mailman) and think it's underappreciated. As was early Family Guy. When Fox canceled it in its third season, they didn't even air the final episode, which had to move to Adult Swim. That's where it found an audience and a massive following, which eventually convinced Fox to bring FG back from the dead for 16 more seasons and counting. It's recently been announced that Family Guy will be leaving Adult Swim, the place that saved it when it was in its prime, allowing it to slowly become the unfunny punchline that it is today.
And now here's Aaron Eckhart with what we can learn from all of this:
Follow Cezary on Twitter.
Top Image: 20th Television