David Lynch Appeared in Exactly One Out of Every Four Episodes of ‘The Cleveland Show’
There may be no two creators as prolific and diametrically opposed in the Western canon than adult animation magnate Seth MacFarlane and arthouse film icon David Lynch — which made Lynch’s recurring role as the friendly 117-year-old barkeep Gus on The Cleveland Show so fittingly bizarre.
From 2009 to 2013, the Twin Peaks co-creator appeared in precisely 25 percent of all Cleveland Show episodes as the affable and airheaded proprietor of The Broken Stool, the show’s local bar that served the same function as The Drunken Clam in Family Guy. Twenty-two out of the 88 episodes in The Cleveland Show’s four-season run feature the man responsible for some of the most influential surrealist cinema of the last 50 years tending bar and concealing a dark past as the show’s most memorable side character.
The only explanation Lynch has ever given for his involvement with the series came in 2010 when he tweeted, “Yes, it’s true. I play Gus the bartender on The Cleveland Show. Mike Henry (the voice of Cleveland) asked me to do it, so I said yes.” Almost nine years after the show ended, we’re still not convinced that the entirety of The Cleveland Show wasn’t one big performance-art piece by Lynch.
Henry, who has also served as a writer on both Family Guy and The Cleveland Show, once credited Lynch with inspiring him to purse a creative path in a 2010 interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying, “I am a huge David Lynch fan. I have been greatly inspired by his true uniqueness. Back in the day, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after college, I saw Wild at Heart and I got in my car and moved to California.”
“I figured if this guy could do something this weird and hilarious and awesome then I’m going to go for it,” Henry continued. “You know, I talked to him on the phone, I told him about the show and he was completely down. And so he’s our eccentric bartender.” The writer and voice actor noted that he wasn’t sure Lynch had ever heard of Family Guy before taking the role, which would honestly be exactly in character for film’s greatest weirdo.
Even after the conclusion of The Cleveland Show, Lynch happily returned to work in the MacFarlane Extended Universe when he had a brief cameo playing himself in an iconic holiday cutaway called “How David Lynch Stole Christmas” during a Family Guy holiday special.
After everything that Lynch had accomplished in the art world, it’s fascinating that a simple voice acting part in a Family Guy spin-off was an interesting artistic experiment for the avant-garde icon. That said, with the exception of directing a Star Wars film, it’s hard to think of a creative venture that Lynch wouldn’t entertain — apparently, all it takes to book him on a project is a bounty of free Cheetos.