‘Family Guy’ voice actor visits University

Nicholas Olivera/Staff Writer

With bursts of laughter and applause, FIU students welcomed the voice of Cleveland Brown, a supporting character on the acclaimed FOX animated television sitcom, “Family Guy.”

Brown, one of the few African-American characters on the show, is voiced by actor Mike Henry. He is also well-known for playing Brown in the Cleveland Show, a spin-off of “Family Guy.”

“The philosophy behind ‘Family Guy’ is just be funny,” said Henry after 14 seasons of the show. “I think it speaks for itself at this point.”

He shared behind-the-scene clips of the writer’s room for “Family Guy” and rough cuts of popular episodes from the show.

“We have 25 writers and it’s all people who are very smart,” he said. “And very disgruntled — they don’t like to be fed what the industry is feeding.”

As a student at Washington and Lee University, Henry was always interested in comedy, but he felt that he needed to take a career path more oriented to “business stuff.” He never thought he could make a career out of making people laugh. So instead, he opted to major in history.

He said that the University pushed its students to pursue more traditional careers that don’t allow as much creative expression as comedy.

“It was a very conservative school and I, at the time, rebelled against my artist parents by going to the most conservative school possible,” he said.

He said that his approach to education was to always go to class, not do assignments and to “just have an awesome resume” prepared for when he graduates. This included serving as class president for three consecutive years.

He saw his peers go off to law, business and medical graduate schools and it influenced him to start a career in advertising.

He joined an advertising firm in Virginia as an account executive. However, he felt that advertising was a world he couldn’t get himself to care about. His only interest was in making people laugh.

“I thought I could be kind of creative but at the same time do business stuff because that’s what you were supposed to do,” he said. “That’s what all my friends were doing.”

His reluctance to work at the firm caused him to quit so that he could pursue a career in comedy.

Despite his decision, it was something that was going to have to suffer for financially.

“All my friends were buying houses and having kids, being all serious,” said Henry. “And all I had was credit cards and futons and a beat-up Jetta.”

He showed commercial clips from the oddjobs he had picked up before his rise to fame, which included shooting raunchy commercials for Burly Bear, a now-defunct cable TV channel that targeted college students.

He then showed early clips of him performing as another “Family Guy” character, Herbert the Pervert, at a live orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Despite his difficult beginnings, Henry encouraged FIU students to pursue a career that they think is best for themselves.

“I would encourage people to follow whatever is in your gut,” Henry said. “Whether it’s to go do something creative or to be with your family or to go travel the world and help people, you only go around once.”

Be the first to comment on "‘Family Guy’ voice actor visits University"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.