When I first heard that the original voice of Family Guy's Cleveland Brown was stepping down, I was bummed out. I have been a huge fan of the show for years, and Cleveland is definitely one of its best characters. I felt like changing the voice would be distracting because I'd always be focused on the new, "weird" voice.

Boy, was I wrong. Wait until you hear how much Arif sounds like Cleveland.

We spoke to Arif "Azerrz" Zahir this morning on Michael and Maddie. Arif was a student at Nativity Prep and Keith Middle when he was growing up and has fond memories of Mr. Moore, who was his principal, and Ms. McMillon, who was his English teacher. He also has aunts and uncles that still live here in New Bedford.

His family ended up moving back to California, where he started doing impressions on YouTube. One of those impressions was the Family Guy character. After the original voice of Cleveland, Mike Henry, decided to step down from the role this summer, it opened up an opportunity for Arif to audition for the slot. The New Bedford native landed the job.


 

Arif, who moved to New Bedford when he was eight years old, shared a touching story about the first time he saw snow as he was coming out of the grocery store. He said he felt like he was in a Christmas movie.

When Arif turned on his Cleveland voice during our interview, I almost fell off my chair. It sounded exactly – and I mean EXACTLY – like the original Cleveland. It is indistinguishable.

Don't believe me? Listen to our interview this morning with New Bedford native Arif "Azerrz" Zahir.

You won't hear Arif in Family Guy until the next season begins, which won't be until 2021 at the earliest.

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