by John Gaudiosi
LOS ANGELES—To millions of gamers, actor Patrick Warburton is best know as David Puddy, a character that appeared in only 11 episodes of NBC's hit comedy series, "Seinfeld," but left an indelible mark in that time. Many fans probably recall the episode that featured that colorful, ugly leather jacket.
"I thought when I did that episode that the jacket might be worth something some day so I asked if I could have it," said Warburton. "The wardrobe people said they'd sell it to me for $US 1,000. I remember thinking even back then, before Ebay was around, if I paid $US 1,000 in 10 years I could probably sell it for $US 1,000. Is it really worth $US 1,000? I know it's real leather, but come on. I would never wear it. I didn't buy it, but for $US 500, I would have bought it. It'd be fun to have today. I even have my 'Seinfeld' crew jacket that stays in the closet. You can't wear that around, it's kind of gaudy. 'That's right, I was on 'Seinfeld.' Read my jacket.'"
Warburton, who currently can be heard on television as Joe Swanson in "Family Guy" and can be seen on the sitcom "Rules of Engagement," spent time in the recording studio bringing Ken to life for Jerry Seinfeld's "Bee Movie" and Activision's "Bee Movie Game." When told the new game was out, Warburton said he was going to Best Buy to get the Wii version of the game so "Daddy can play." "It was a lot of fun to do the game because everything gets so pared down in the movie," said Warburton. "In the game, Ken gets all jacked up, especially when he's playing tennis. Jerry would feed me 20 or 30 crazy lines to do and we'd have a bunch scripted and then I'd just go nuts get all irate. I think Ken will be fun in the game because he's such a jerk."
Warburton said Seinfeld was in the recording studio every single day that he did the movie voice work and the one day he spent doing the recording for the game. As a father of four kids, Warburton has every game console in his house.
"I don't even play the games any more because it's too humiliating," said Warburton. "Ever since my eldest, who's turning 15, was 9, he could beat me on any game. I think the only game I could actually beat him on was the new Frogger. He has all of the games. I've tried Halo 3 because it looks really cool. I love the Wii because I can actually compete with the kids on those games like bowling and golf."
Back in the day, Asteroids was Warburton's game. But a lot has changed in gaming since then.
"I remember riding my 10-speed bicycle from Huntington Beach to Newport Harbor High School," said Warburton. "It's about a four-mile ride. The highpoint of my day was pulling over at the liquor store where PCH meets Balboa and there was an Asteroids machine there. I'd have my two to four quarters and that would last a good half-hour. I could stay on that Asteroids machine for a good while."
Aside from the Wii, Warburton spends most of his time watching his kids and their friends play games.
"Unless I do some really intensive program, I don't think I'll ever be able to compete with them," joked Warburton.
Although he doesn't play as much these days—the actor did say he'd download Asteroids on Xbox Live Arcade—he spends a lot of time bringing videogame characters to life. Warburton has worked on games like the Tak & the Power of JuJu franchise, Metal Arms: Glitch in the System, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Family Guy Game and Bee Movie Game.
"Videogames are fun to do," said Warburton. "I don't really see how you could make a living off of it. These games can make jillions of dollars, but the piece of the action that actors get is really miniscule compared to what these things do. But any paycheck is better than a kick in the pants. It's fun to work on them and be part of them."
When it comes to humor in games, that's something that's still pretty hard to pull off.
"It seems to me that there's this element...when you're watching 'Family Guy' it's absurd and random and it's a bit insane," said Warburton. "If you're playing a videogame, you have to have a goal and something to accomplish. All of these things are obstacles in the way of humor. Family Guy can be complex and absurd. Much of it is off-putting and un-PC. Playing a game is very segmented in moving from one level to the next and there are so many specific things going on, it's difficult to get humor going. Plus, anything that's funny the fist time loses that humor hearing it over and over again."
Even his kids, who enjoy hearing Dad on the big screen and in TV shows, get sick of hearing his voice in games. As his clan gets older, they're able to see and hear more of his work.
"I let my oldest son watch 'Family Guy' when he turned 13, so now my daughter just turned 13 and she wants to watch it and I'm like, "Oh, shit," said Warburton, who's a huge fan of the show, himself. He went into detail about how funny the 100th Episode was, which feature Seth McFarlane interviewing real people that hated the show. And when asked about the recent episode in which his character was able to walk again—temporarily—Warburton said, "Joe can kick some ass."