When asked what the best way to get to Hollywood was, actress Bette Davis famously answered “Take Fountain,” in reference to the iconic Hollywood street. If she were alive today, she’d be surprised that there was another way.
Deepak Sethi, Western alum BSc’02, was selling chick peas, rice, and a full line of ethnic foods at his father’s food distribution company in Toronto up until 2010. A year earlier, he started an online comedy blog, where he wrote articles such as “10 ways to be the worst Facebook friend ever” and “7 ways to get more twitter followers nobody will ever tell you.”
“I wrote my blog as a creative outlet for me. I needed something to discharge my random thoughts." The blog started from a series of Facebook notes he wrote just for his friends until two of his closest friends intervened. “They said, “you have to do a blog, Facebook is so limiting. One of them even said “you know maybe one day Seth Macfarlane will discover it and hire you on Family Guy. We both laughed. She laughed really hard. Thinking back, that was pretty hurtful.”
So he did, in the spring of 2009. “The first few months, I had six or seven readers. And I think even they zoned out into comas. It wasn’t going well.” Sethi persisted and soon got his readership into the thousands, and by August 2009, he had reached 60,000 unique readers.
Then something happened.
Actress Alyssa Milano discovered his blog and began to tweet links to it. “Her power on social media is unreal. She instantly helped.” According to Sethi, Milano went further. She told others in Hollywood, including writer-producer Ricky Blitt, writer of “The Ringer” and a former producer of Family Guy. “Ricky instantly took me under his wing and helped me learn the process of writing. I was a computer science nerd from Western, I had no idea that structure outside of a computer program meant anything. OK, I had no idea that structure inside of a computer program meant anything either. I was terrible at computers and frankly, couldn’t believe I made it out of Western.” Blitt showed Seth Macfarlane Sethi’s script and in the summer of 2010, he was hired as a staff writer on Family Guy.
“I felt like Charlie from Charlie and the Samosa Factory. I culturally adjust my references.”
Sethi moved to Hollywood, wrote on Family Guy for season 10. “Going from writing a blog to writing on a hit TV show is a big adjustment. For most of my time there, I was learning from the best writers in the business.”
After that season, he produced and acted in a short film called “Being Bin Laden”, a comedy about Osama Bin Laden if he were “living it up in a cave somewhere.” The cast included Steven Weber, Rachael Harris and Fred Savage. It premiered at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal in 2011.
“Producing a film, acting, writing, I was learning a lot of things. I was just really excited to be part of the process. At Western I was a RA, a don, a soph, and in all of those experiences, you learn by doing. You may not do them well, and I was a terrible RA who didn’t have one write-up all year, but you learn. That’s what my first year in Hollywood was like.”
Sethi recently sold his own TV comedy show to the CBC. He describes it as “hot dog vendors if you got to see their real lives. If the show goes to air, we should do a special episode where the hot dog vendors go to Richmond Street where students and alumni are waiting in line at the Ceeps.”
Sethi also just signed with Comedy Central in LA and now writes for “Brickleberry”, executive produced by Daniel Tosh. “It’s great. It’s funny, it’s smart. It has the word “Canada” in one of the episodes so boom. Patriotism right there.”
On his years at Western, Sethi adds “no school has the spirit and pride Western does. I’m really happy I went there."
For his future, he claims he hopes he can “create, write, produce and watch the Leafs. If not, everyone still likes chick peas right? Because that would be helpful.”
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