Patrick Warburton is no doubt a familiar name for TV viewers. The deep-voiced actor, who currently appears on CBS's Rules of Engagement, played David Puddy on Seinfeld, The Tick in the short-lived live action show of the same name and voices two beloved animated characters, Joe Swanson on Family Guy and Brock Samson on The Venture Bros. This September, Warburton will be heading to the web with Effin with Tonight, a new animated take on the late night talk show genre created by former Tonight Show writer Jim Shaughnessy, where he'll play host Ray Effin.
Effin with Tonight, which debuts on Sony's Crackle.com on September 2, differs from late night shows for more than the fact that it's a cartoon. It's a show without the niceties of of pre-recorded chit-chat, a show that aims to take down the culture that enables oftentimes absurd celebrity behavior.
“We want to be able to call people out,” said Warburton when we spoke to him at San Diego Comic-Con.
At a San Diego Comic-Con panel, we were able to catch a few clips from the forthcoming show, which featured appearances from 2D, voice-impersonated versions of people like Jerry Lewis and Kanye West.
“We have very deserving subjects that we're skewering,” says Effin with Tonight creator Jim Shaughnessy. “Because I have muscular dystrophy, it's my little statement to Jerry Lewis, in a comedic way, saying, “Why are you doing this?'
“There's always a motivation behind the celebrity bashing,” he adds.
The inclusion of West as a character on the show points to Effin with Tonight's overall goal.
“It's the douchebaggery, essentially. It's just that pomposity,” says Shaughnessy. “It's that they're so full of themselves and no other late night talk show host will call them out on their shit ever because they need to kiss their ass to keep them on there so they can plug their product. “
That's exactly where Effin with Tonight truly differs from the genre on which it's based.
“This is a forum where it's just about the comedy. It's about the viewer saying, 'I wish he would really give it to them,'” says Shaughnessy. “We're going to do that. When a celebrity screws up, we're going to be on top of it.”
One of the challenges of the creating a show of this nature is balancing humor that's immediately relevant with ideas that will continue to make people laugh after a story has faded from the news.
“We did discuss early on that there are things that would be funny now and ten years from now, the evergreen material and stuff,” says Warburton, who also serves as an executive producer on Effin with Tonight. “Because of our process, our creative process, we can put things together very fast, we want to be able to do thins that are extremely timely.”
Effin with Tonight deals with characters based on real people and so the ability to nail celebrity impersonations, as well as characters based on non-celebrities that the team knows, is crucial.
“We wanted this to be as accurate to those real people as possible,” says Shaughnessy. “That's always the determination of when we're casting actors, authenticity. We want that going all the time.”
The voice-matching talent on Effin with Tonight is what puts the show over the edge. Amongst the cast members are Rachel Butera, an amazing talent who has appeared on The Howard Stern Show, and Jay Lamont, whose impersonation of President Barack Obama left us awestruck. Also featured on the show is Joe Cipriano, perhaps the most recognizable television announcer/voice over artist in the country, adding another layer of reality-based humor to the cartoon series.
The process of recording the voice overs for the show also contributes to the intended authenticity of Effin with Tonight.
“We actually ran Patrick against the other actors, so it was like an actual interview process,” said co-writer Jerrod Cardwell.
Effin with Tonight consists of eight episodes so far, but the minds behind the show have a lot more ideas to bring to the web.
“There's laundry lists of them,” says Shaughnessy. “We're just able to do a certain amount in the first season.”