Marlee Matlin on 'Family Guy' gag: 'Lighten up, people'
Last night, Marlee Matlin appeared in a Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show sketch (see video after jump) that played her speaking voice for laughs. In an interview conducted via email with EW, the hearing-impaired actress explained why she participated in the skit — and how it ties in to a new cable series she’s developing.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you become involved with this special?
MARLEE MATLIN: I had been in touch with Seth MacFarlane’s office to ask him to let me use my own voice in the segments where they had a cartoon character based on me. After all, I have an Oscar and Alex [Borstein], who voiced me, doesn’t. God knows, I would have done a far better job of playing me than her.
Were you aware of being mocked on previous Family Guy episodes?
Mocked isn’t the right word. I was just part of the joke. I learned a long time ago from when I did Seinfeld never to take anything seriously and to be part of the joke is the best way to show what a good sport I was.
Were you ever offended by those jokes, or did you always think they were funny?
I personally have dealt with any adversity in my life with humor. That’s why I told America to “Read my hips!” on Dancing With the Stars or was happy to play along with Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld in the great restaurant scene on Seinfeld. I know a lot of deaf people might have been offended when they made fun of my voice but remember, it was MY voice they were making fun of. I was more than happy to show up and show them that I could dish it as well as I could take it and that being offensive works both ways.
What about this skit — offensive or funny? (Or both/neither?)
It was sick. It was twisted. It was rude. And it was very Family Guy. People love [MacFarlane’s] stuff. They don’t pay him the big bucks for nothing and I was glad to be part of it. I want to do it again and BE the voice. BTW, it only would’ve been offensive if I hadn’t laughed and I loved that you couldn’t quite figure out if I was seriously angry at Alex or not!
As a very visible member of the hearing-impaired community, were you hesitant to be involved in a skit like this?
No. If I were, I wouldn’t have ever done Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, Howie Mandel’s hidden camera show, My Name is Earl and this show. And it’s why I’m developing a very politically incorrect and very funny show for Showtime with Mario Cantone and Carol Leifer (who, BTW, wrote my episode for Seinfeld).
Were you aware that Microsoft withdrew its advertising from this special due to its controversial content?
Yep. That’s their right. But I had a hard time believing that they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they said they’d sponsor a show written by Seth MacFarlane. What were they expecting? Sesame Street?
Did you find any of the other controversial jokes in this special to be offensive?
Offensive. No. Sick, very. But that’s Seth and Alex. Humor comes in all forms and everyone has their cup of tea about what makes them laugh. But the day we censor humor is a sad one for sure. All I gotta say is, “Lighten up, people.”
Photo Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos