It’s New York Comic Con weekend, and among the torrent of cosplay photos that come out of the show, there’s a better-than-average chance that you’ll see a glimpse of Robert Franzese. The Family Guy superfan known as the “Real Life Peter Griffin” is a New Yorker who first started dressing as the character at conventions almost 10 years ago. He takes his cosplay one step further with a dead-on impression of the character’s voice and laugh — and take it from somebody who has seen it up close, that can entertain a subway car for the short ride to the Javits Center.
Now, with the convention where his long career as a Peter Griffin impersonator took off, something that is undoubtedly on Franzese’s highlight reel is once again making the rounds. That would be an actual reference to him on a Family Guy DVD, completing some kind of crazy circle in a way that no reasonable person would ever expect.
You can see the clip below.
If that whole clip looks a little…off…to you, there’s a reason for it. It isn’t from the actual episode, which aired in 2019, but from the DVD release for Season 17. It’s a feature called the character commentary, where rather than having the creators delve into the process of making an episode and singling out Easter eggs, the characters “watch” the show and react. By this point in the episode, everything has devolved to the point where Lois is threatening to quit the show, and with the rest of the family stressed about it, the actors break character, so that they can tell their characters everything is going to be fine, since none of them are real anyway.
“None of you are real,” Seth MacFarlane tells the family. “You are all TV characters voiced by me, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, and Mila Kunis.”
One of MacFarlane’s characters, Peter, shoots back “If I’m not real, then why does a fat nerd pretend to be me at every Comic-Con?” and MacFarlane responds, “Please, don’t mention him. It’ll only encourage him.”
Franzese, meanwhile, has made the character into a kind of alter ego. Besides standard cosplay, you can hire him to send messages on Cameo as the Real Life Peter Griffin. According to one report, he reached out to the producers at one point, to make sure he wasn’t going to get sued, and their response was, basically, “we’re aware of you and love what you’re doing.”
So keep your eyes out for him at New York Comic Con this weekend. And if you see any chickens in the immediate vicinity, give the pair a wide berth.