This is a standalone section from Claire Hoffman’s outstanding profile of Seth MacFarlane in the June 18 2012 New Yorker:
On a Monday night last summer, MacFarlane jogged onto the stage of a jazz club called Vibrato, in Bel-Air. He had on a slim-cut Gucci suit and clutched a highball glass full of whiskey. Without acknowledging the seventeen-man band behind him, he grabbed the microphone.
“How’re you all doing!” he shouted. A group of middle-aged blond women, holding fast-emptying glasses of white wine, let out a lupine howl from the bar.
Onstage, MacFarlane cut a dapper, if somewhat contrived, figure. Smiling rakishly, he could have been a man auditioning for a part in a Rat Pack movie. “I’m a little under the weather tonight, so forgive me if I sound a little like Joy Behar,” he said. “We are just fucking winging it.” The band launched into “The Night They Invented Champagne.”
The song is one of the tracks on “Music Is Better Than Words,” which was released in September. MacFarland spent more than a year recording it, and, watching him onstage at Vibrato, you got the feeling that the album was the culmination of a lifelong fantasy—like the bar-mitzvah boy who finally gets to perform “Thriller” for a captive audience.
MacFarlane discovered Sinatra in college and was hooked by his stylized masculinity. “I instantly sparked to it because it was accessible, yet very challenging,” he said. He couldn’t stand the records his classmates listened to. “Nirvana made me want to blow my brains out.”
On the stage at Vibrato, eyebrows knit in concentration, MacFarlane looked truly happy. The bad was lush and smooth, and MacFarlane executed the songs with bloodless technical precision. Mid-set, he took a swig of bourbon and introduced his favorite song from “The Sound of Music. “This was written after Oscar Hammerstein died,” he said. Pause. Long drink. “That’s Rodgers and Hammerstein, for those of you who are fucking idiots.” He cackled and started into “Something Good,” his eyes closed tight, lost in Fräulein Maria’s sentimental paean to her captain: “Perhaps I had a wicked childhood. Perhaps I had a miserable youth. But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment of truth.” At a table near the front, a little boy asked his mother when MacFarlane would do the voice of Stewie.
Understatement! When will I learn how to do you?