Patrick Warburton Juggles 'Rules of Engagement,' 'Family Guy' & Family Man
Today's cuppa: French Vanilla coffee
It's a Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, and Patrick Warburton is facing one of a parent's greatest fears -- allowing his eldest son, Talon, to drive his father's car. To make it more challenging, they're on the busy and congested 101 Freeway, at one of its most busy and congested times.
"He's having a little trouble getting over," Warburton says. "You can actually turn right from this lane when we get over there. So, stay in this lane. I'm sorry. I'm also giving a little driving instruction.
"He's driving my car for the first time ever, and he's doing a fine job."
Warburton's CBS comedy "Rules of Engagement" -- airing tonight, Wednesday, but also, according to the online schedule, on Thursday, and on Monday and Wednesday of next week -- has been picked up for fall, when it will keep airing on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, after "How I Met Your Mother."
Warburton plays Jeff, half (with Megyn Price) of a long-married but childless (at least so far, but there is surrogate talk) couple that is friends with a cohabiting couple (Oliver Hudson, Bianca Kajlich) and a free-living single guy (David Spade).
The comedy didn't even make it on the air this year until March for its 13-episode fourth season.
"We've never had a full season." says Warburton. "But the show's doing well, and we've definitely had momentum this season. The network looks at that. Our numbers were going up, and the show definitely got sharper."
As a father of four in real life, Warburton is in no hurry to play one on "Rules."
"I'd like to postpone the baby thing, to be perfectly honest," he says.
Asked if he really wants to work with either a fake infant or a real one that can only work for a few minutes at a time, he says, "No, I don't."
Warburton is also a voice actor, and one of his regular gigs is as Joe Swanson (armed in the photo below) a macho paraplegic police officer in the police department of Quahog, hometown of main character Peter Griffin (voiced by show creator Seth MacFarlane) in the Sunday-night Fox animated comedy, "Family Guy."
"Family Guy" is frequently taken to task for political jabs, aimed mainly at right-wing figures, and for various other kinds of edgy or outrageous humor. Most recently, actor Robert Davi objected strongly to a joke centered on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, while speaking at the Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
"It's satire," Warburton says. "It's ridicule, and it's sarcasm. It's not nice by nature. When you sign on, there are different rules to that than say, a live-action show. You have to accept the fact that it's going to be offensive at times.
"I turn the show off if I find it to be what I consider sacrilegious or unnecessary. It's offensive on so many levels every single time. I think that's why, if you're truly offended by it, and it's something that bothers you, then don't watch it.
"My mother really does believe my soul's in peril for being on that show. I'm not sure I feel that way, although there are times that I've watched the show, and I feel like, maybe she's right. I do wrestle with it a little bit at times, but if I felt I was doing something that really, truly hurt people or hurt individuals, then I wouldn't want to be a part of it.
"The reaction to the show that I've always gotten is from people who love the show. I've never had anybody come up to me and say, 'How could you be a part of that? How could you do that?'
"Except for my mother."
As for his own beliefs, Warburton says, "I tend to be a bit more conservative. I'm a father of four. I view things more conservatively than, I would say, perhaps a lot of people in the industry. I grew up in a conservative environment. I think we strive to have something of an open perspective but conservative values. That's where we come from."
He starts explaining that one doesn't always get to play characters and be on shows that reflect one's personal values, then, "Tal, Tal, Tal ... don't say you're sorry. Don't crash the car. Don't make somebody have to stop for you."
Warburton averts yet another traffic mishap, and then ponders a question about whether he'd like to one day produce a show that reflects his own values.
"Sure," he says. "Absolutely. I'm taking some meetings right now. It's really premature, so I can't really talk about it, but I'm actually in the midst of that right now. Hopefully it'll be for a network like the Discovery Channel, and it'll be something that's much more family-friendly."