The TV Column: 'Family Guy' actor speaks out against Palin joke
Not everyone who works on the Fox animated sitcom "Family Guy" is standing in solidarity with its Valentine's Day episode's Sarah Palin joke.
Cast member Patrick Warburton told TV critics Wednesday he objected to the flippant reference to Palin as the parent of a child with Down syndrome.
"I know it's satire but, personally, that [joke] bothered me, too," Warburton said on a conference call to promote his other prime-time show, the CBS sitcom "Rules of Engagement," which returns for a fourth season on March 1. (On "Family Guy," Warburton does the voice of Joe, a police officer who uses a wheelchair.)
"I know that you have to be an 'equal-opportunity offender,' but there are some things that I just don't think are funny," Warburton said.
The former Alaska governor/GOP vice presidential contender and her daughter Bristol lashed out at the show and at the "Fox Hollywood" network over the episode, in which a teenage girl character with Down syndrome says her mother was a former governor of Alaska. Sarah Palin's youngest son has the same condition. Series creator Seth MacFarlane shrugged it off with a statement about the show being an "equal-opportunity offender."
Even the actress who played the character with Down syndrome, Andrea Fay Friedman, got into the act. Friedman, who also has Down syndrome, sent an e-mail to the New York Times last week saying, "I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor.
"I thought the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' was very funny," the newspaper reports Friedman said in her e-mail. "I think the word is 'sarcasm.' "
Warburton is the first person involved with the show in any way, shape or form who has publicly broken ranks.
"Look, I have fun. I like Seth. He's got a great comic mind and I think that the show can be fantastically funny. But I do believe that it can be hurtful at times," Warburton said in response to a question about the episode posed by The Post's Emily Yahr.
The situation was bound to happen, given that "Family Guy," being a cartoon, is given a longer leash than any live-action comedy, Warburton speculated.
"A show like that . . . is going to offend everybody at one point or another," the actor said.
"My mother actually believes my soul's in peril for being on the show," he added.