Steve Callaghan is a television producer, actor and screenwriter.
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I've worked on the show since day 1, and have had the chance to work on every episode. I'm happy to answer your questions!
Tonight's 250th Episode of FAMILY GUY is airing at 9/8 central on FOX.
Victoria's helping me get started. AMA.
Edit: Thanks so much. It's been really fun answering all your questions. I'll try to respond to more later.
In the meantime, please watch our 250th episode tonight at 9 o'clock!
What would you say the biggest change in things are since you guys stated... I honestly don't know how many years ago that was. Feels like a lot.
And is "Drink The Beer" based on anyones real life experience? It's become one of my favorite "games" to play.
Oh and congrats on 250. Anyone ever expect that, especially given the number of times it was cancelled?
Great question. The show actually first aired in January of 1999. However, we are in the process of writing and producing our 13th season right now (and airing our 12th), because -- as you mentioned -- the show was cancelled and off the network for a few years. I think the thing that's changed the most is both the depth and breadth of the characters. For instance, in Season One, Stewie was mostly just about killing his mother, which was funny for a while, but as we wrote more and more episodes, it was exciting to discover what other layers of him existed (how he was still figuring out his sexual identity, his friendship/rivalry with Brian, etc.). And the same is true for all the other Griffins. But in addition to that, we also have tried to populate the town of Quahog with lots of other fun characters (Mayor West, Dr. Hartman, Tom Tucker, etc.) to fill out the community.
And no, "Drink the Beer" was just pitched as a joke, but I love the fact that people are actually playing it!
Finally, thanks on 250. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that we would reach this milestone. When the show was cancelled way back when, we were all sad to leave, but realized that's what often happens in TV. We never dreamed we'd be back to work on FG, let alone making it to 250 episodes. And all our thanks for making that happen goes to the amazing and loyal fans who showed their support for the show. So, we thank all of them for giving us our jobs back!
How did the writer's room like/dislike the clone gag from The Simpsons?
Any time someone makes a joke about FG, we usually laugh along with them and take it in stride (we certainly make lots of jokes about other people and shows, so we'd be hypocrites to be offended!). Fact is, our whole staff are actually big fans of The Simpsons, and our relationship with them is great. They were extremely kind and gracious in allowing us to borrow their characters and their voice talent when we produced our season premiere this past fall, an episode titled, "The Simpsons Guy."
How do you pronounce Cherry's surname?
It looks like a mouthful, but if you take it slowly, it's easy: Chevapravatdumrong
See, easy, right? And then just speed it up a bit.
What's hilarious is that several times different people have asked me if we made up that name as a joke. I'm not sure what the joke would be exactly. But no, I can assure you, Cherry is very real, and she is also very funny and talented.
What is your favorite cut away of all time? Do u prefer the time consuming ones that make you forget what it is even about or the short and sweet ones and why?
I like them both. It's fun to spend some time on something if the premise can sustain it, but often I prefer the short quick ones, where you get in and get out.
How did you get your start and what advice do you have for the newbies in the writer's room?
I worked in production on a couple different TV shows before being hired as a Writers' Assistant (the person who actually sits in the writers' room and types in the changes during rewrites) on the first season of FG. It was a very friendly and welcoming room of extremely talented writers who encouraged me to speak up if I had an idea for a joke. I was nervous, of course, and would choose my moments carefully, but as I spoke up, some of my ideas would work their way into the scripts. At the end of Season One, I was promoted to Staff Writer on the show. When it got cancelled, I worked on a couple other shows, but then returned to FG when it was resurrected. I worked my way up through the writing ranks and was named Executive Producer/Showrunner starting in Season Eight. As far as advice, I would say wait to pitch until you've worked out the joke first in your head (or even on paper). Also, write as much and as often as you can, and always be open to other people's feedback. Television writing is highly collaborative (frankly, we couldn't get FG on the air without the hard work of our very talented staff of writers), so getting used to working with others and responding to their feedback is a vital skill.
Who is your favourite character to write for?
Honestly, they are all fun for different reasons, but probably either Stewie or Peter. Peter because he's just so dumb. Stewie because he tends to get some of the most clever lines.
I've been watching FG for a long time. Why have the quality of the "flashbacks" went down so much in recent years? They used to be so funny, full of pop-culture references and just good humor. Now if feels like they are incredibly forced & extremely topical humor. What changed?
I interested to hear you say that. What is it about the more recent cutaways and flashbacks that you're thinking of when you ask that?
I was wondering: What is your favourite all-time Family Guy joke? If you've got one.
Thanks a lot! Congrats on 250
Wow, there have been so many. It's hard to pick. Do you have a favourite? (I used the British spelling, since I'm guessing that's where you are).
any big plans for celebrating tonight?
Not to disappoint, but I'll probably be watching at home. The celebration, for me, will be seeing the episode on the air after over a year of working on it. In fact, every one of our episodes takes over a year to produce. So, after shepherding each of them for that long a time, it's always very satisfying to see them reach our audience and see what the fan reaction is.
How has the show changed behind the scenes from the early days?
For example is it easier to write now since the characters are more developed, or is it more difficult because so many stories have already been done.
I would say it's both. The show is a bit easier to write because, with each new episode, the characters become even more fleshed out and so it's easy to imagine what a certain character's motivations within or attitudes toward a new storyline might be. However, the challenge is to not repeat ourselves. We never want to feel like we are just rehashing something we've already done and our entire staff and crew work very hard to keep raising the bar. Not only do we not want to repeat ourselves, but we try always to keep making the show better and better. I am as proud of the episodes we are writing now as any we have done up to this point. It goes back to what I said earlier: we feel such a debt to our fans for bringing FG back from the dead, that we take very seriously our responsibility to keep the quality of the show as high as we can.
Hi, thanks for doing this.
Why is it only Brian that can understand Stewie?
Also, who thought it was a good idea to get Stewie pregnant? That was definitely the worst episode of the entire show.
It seemed to make sense from the beginning that since Stewie is a baby, most of the other family members would deal with him like you would a baby. So, for example, in the pilot episode when Stewie says all sorts of horrible things to Lois about how he wants her dead, she gets his general vibe (that he's crabby), but she doesn't understand his actual words. And that's why her response is, "Oh, you want your toy back."
And I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the episode where Stewie got pregnant. At the same time, other people have told me how much they laughed at it. I suppose that's what's great about having the chance to do so many episodes, if you don't love one, maybe you'll enjoy next week's! Thanks for watching, though!
Who came up with the chicken fight?
The chicken fights started in Season Two. I don't recall exactly who pitched the idea first (I want to say it was a writer named Garrett Donovan, but my memory could be failing me), but I do recall that the idea of making the fight such a long, extended, and complicated piece of animation came from Seth. It was such fun to do, we decided later to revisit it, but always felt it was important to wait at least a few seasons between each chicken fight so that the audience wouldn't see it coming.
Random question. What's your favorite snack to eat while you work? I need to know the brain food that fuels a show as good as Family Guy is.
Congrats on the milestone and a hell of a run up to this point.
For me, it's cashews. We actually have a huge spread of candy in our office, but I avoid all that junk. So, yeah, eat a lot of cashews and your show will reach 250 episodes, I guess.
*This response sponsored by the American Cashew Council.
What MacFarlaneverse show is your favourite to watch?
I certainly learn the most from Cosmos.
Brian is my favorite character on the show. There are so many times that he's the voice of reason. Was there a character you had in mind that would have become that new voice of reason if you guys wouldn't have brought Brian back from the dead?
Great question! We actually never talked about that because the plan from the beginning was always to bring Brian back.
What's your production schedule like? How fast do you have to pump out episodes?
Our production schedule is actually very similar to any live-action sitcom, except that we work a year in advance. So, we typically will produce 22 or so episodes a year. However, because each one takes so long to complete, we will need to be thinking about final tweaks on whichever episode is airing in a couple weeks as well as thinking up what the Christmas episode might be a year and a half from now -- in addition to working on all the other episodes in between.