Originally posted by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Patrick Warburton, over a three-decade career, has an impressive resumé packed with interesting and wide-ranging roles, most recently as narrator Lemony Snicket in Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events."
He also spent seven seasons on a successful CBS series “Rules of Engagement” and has voiced 163 episodes of “Family Guy” as hunky wheelchair-bound neighbor Joe Swanson.
But “Seinfeld” was such a monster hit that his nine episodes as Elaine’s quirky boyfriend David Puddy tend to overshadow everything else. He’s okay with that.
"I get a lot of compliments that I made such a big impact," said Warburton, who will be in Atlanta May 24 to 26 at MomoCon, a gathering of anime, comic book and gaming enthusiasts held at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Almost every day, somebody throws a Puddy reference at him, be it the character’s love for high fives, his obsession with Arby’s or his devotion to the New Jersey Devils. Oh, and the way he says, “Yah, that’s right!”
And here’s a note to Arby’s, which is based in Atlanta:
“I’ve always loved Arby’s,” he said. “I am a big fan of the chicken cordon bleu. Why they’ve never hired me as a spokesman, I don’t know.”
At age 54, he is a family man of four kids facing an empty nest. He said all his kids are becoming productive citizens, including his 20-year-old Shane, who he thinks might be the next president of the United States. “He’s really bright, very charismatic, a great writer, a great speaker, interned with a Congressman,” Warburton said.
What was Warburton like at age 20? “I was a rebellious moron. All four of my kids are so much more evolved. They don’t have the issues I did.”
Warburton is currently between major projects but given that his kids are now nearly all grown up, he is widening his horizons in terms of what he is willing to do. While they were growing up, he went out of his way to find work in Los Angeles near home like “Rules of Engagement.”
He had mixed feelings about that sitcom, which was treated like a reliable utility player by CBS, inserted mid-season from 2007 to 2013 when something else failed.
The writing on the show, he said, was not consistent. “I knew how good the writing could be,” he said. “Sometimes it was really sharp. They’d take the viewer down some wormhole of weirdly funny stuff. But then they have Jeff going to a reception and he’s upset there’s no whiskey or free jumbo shrimp. Just basic Jeff speak. That’s easy stuff and not that funny. I’d say a third of the episodes were really really good.”
The Netflix series, which concluded three seasons covering all the Snicket books earlier this year, "was an amazing opportunity. Barry Sonnenfeld really hit the mark on that one. When he invites you to the party, you're blessed. He put me on 'The Tick' years ago. To know Barry is to love him. He's not just a genius but he's generous in giving me opportunities." (He helped return "The Tick" to TV via Amazon and was initially disappointed when he wasn't recast. He said he's okay with it now and likes the revamped version. UPDATE: May 16-- Amazon cancelled "The Tick" after two seasons.)
Warburton’s voice - deep, resonant, oddly humorous - has helped him nab many a voice-over job over the years.
But he has a hard time accepting his voice is anything special. “I’m just like everybody else. I didn’t always like the sound of my voice,” he said. “I’m gotten to voice some fantastic characters. It’s been remarkable. I’m very humble. I have a wife and four kids who keep me on the level, who ensure I know I’m not that special.”
He said he gets asked frequently to do fan conventions but he's pretty picky. He said yes to MomoCon in part because his sister Mary lives in Smyrna. And he's super close to his brother in law Paul Voss, a Georgia State University professor.
"It's nice to meet the fans," Warburton said. "It's great to get that kind of feedback. It is a lot of work. I can appreciate this because I'm a crazed Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder fan. Ed's always been very sweet and kind to me. I'm a super fan. I'm somewhat in awe of him."
He is relieved Vedder didn’t treat him poorly. He said whenever fans comes up, he looks them in the eye and asks them something personal. He wants to ensure he always leaves a good impression.
IF YOU GO
May 23-26 (Warburton is there May 24-26)
Multi-day pass $77, day passes range from $35 to $50
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.