The Comedian's Defense of Seth MacFarlane

The Atlantic

The criticism is still raining down on Seth MacFarlane for his first Oscar hosting gig on the day after — "sexist" and "racist" and "worst ever" are not uncommon from all over today, as MacFarlane himself predicted before the show and during his monologue with William Shatner. But was he funny? Some actual comedians seem to think so.

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When Melena Ryzik of The New York Times got some reactions from other professional funny people, Sarah Silverman seemed to speak for the defenders: "He was soooo great!" she told Ryzik. "He's a song-and-dance man and he had so many hard jokes — 'getting inside Lincoln's head!'" The Silverman stamp of approval makes a lot of sense; she, like most comics born in standup, thrives on the awkward and borderline offensive moments. Seth Rogen and Andy Samberg, from the more Hollywood insider of comic camps, qualified their comments, insisting that hosting an awards show can be difficult, and that MacFarlane's schtick was about being weird than anything mean. Rogen said: "Good comedy is subversive." Samberg? "I always like the goofier stuff." 

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That seemed to be the sentiment of Patton Oswalt, who was genuinely surprised that he grew to like MacFarlane as he tweeted about the show: 

I know I'm supposed to be snarky, but all this weird shit is working. #Oscars

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 25, 2013

Hey Twitter -- Seth's doing a good job. #Oscars

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 25, 2013

"Why...didn't...you...just...suck?" -- me, and probably most of Twitter, watching Seth tonight #Oscars

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 25, 2013

Hey, @sethmacfarlane? You did a great job. #Oscars

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 25, 2013

Marc Maron, who hosts the popular comic's-comic podcast WTF with Marc Maron, also came to MacFarlane's side: 

I thought Seth did a fine job. I enjoyed the show more this year than I have in years. So, there.

— marc maron (@marcmaron) February 25, 2013

As did The Office's Rainn Wilson: 

Truly, @sethmacfarlane did a great job. Funny, self-deprecating and surprisingly fresh.

— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) February 25, 2013

Even Steve Martin offered some kudos (we think...).

Seth MacFarlane was wonderful and who knew?I did. But then, I wrote "Cruel Shoes."

— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) February 25, 2013

MacFarlane, it should be said, hosted a truly bizarre Oscars, and the unfamiliar oddity of his schtick, which to many just came off of as obnoxious, obviously appealed to at least some influential comedians familiar with the thresholds of offensiveness—and to still many others watching, with or without verified Twitter accounts.

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So does this mean MacFarlane could actually return as an Oscar host? The Academy does like to rotate its emcees, but early ratings suggest that the choice was a success. In the 18 to 49 age bracket, the Oscars were up 19 percent from last year's broadcast. Of course, even Silverman threw in a compliment to Golden Globes hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, a duo that MacFarlane explicitly referenced last night. Silverman said: "It's hard to follow Tina and Amy, who were brilliant." And perhaps MacFarlane sort of wants them to take over the burden of hosting. When Shatner, as Captain Kirk, joked in the Oscar opening about the Globes team, he said: "They'll host next year." And that would suit the comics just fine, too.

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