Believe it or not, there's a story behind the name Stoolbend, Va., the fictional town on the Fox spin-off program "The Cleveland Show." Former Collegiate grad and the voice behind several characters on Fox's franchise "Family Guy" sitcom, Mike Henry recently enlightened a room full of his old friends over dinner at the tony Commonwealth Club.
As the audience enjoyed pork-and-wine dinners, Henry told stories from his formative years and showed early film shorts he made with his brother, Patrick. There was skittish laughter and some applause to clips including a steamy video of dogs having sex in a friend's backyard; a classic Texas Wisconsin Border Café commercial with a girl farting during her goodnight kiss; an old interview clip with Virginia Commonwealth University's Joe Seipel – before he was dean of the school of the arts — trying to maintain composure while streakers ran up behind him; and the pièce de résistance, a botched print ad Henry made while working at the Martin Agency of a crudely-drawn spread-legged female next to a hand shaped like a hole (it was no Geico moment).
Henry is now living back in Richmond and considering working on a locally inspired feature film with his brother, who was college roommates with Seth McFarlane and introduced Mike to the "Family Guy" creator. During his talk, Henry didn't sound enthusiastic that "The Cleveland Show" would be renewed. Rumors have been floating that it's done. He did reveal that the actual human inspiration for the fictional town of Stoolbend, Va., was in attendance tonight (the friend, whom he did not name, once took a dump off a boat and "when we came back around the bend, there was the stool still floating," Henry recalls).
After his talk, sitting beneath a trail of Cuban cigar smoke, Henry admits that legendary director David Lynch — who does a voice on the show — enjoyed the brothers' early "Kicked in the Balls" series of video shorts, where unsuspecting adults (and a few children) get kicked in the cojones by a clown with a large orange Afro. Only at the Commonwealth Club can you hear this stuff. — Brent Baldwin