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Family Guy Showrunner Rich Appel Was Surprised This Joke Made It Into An Episode - Exclusive

"Family Guy" may air on Fox, but it's gotten away with some pretty risky content over the years. The Griffin family certainly knows how to push the limits of decency, and the show hasn't been afraid to touch on every sensitive subject under the sun, from religion to politics to various bodily functions. We wouldn't be surprised if there were a joke that combined all three of those. 

Some of the most shockingly dark jokes to make it into a "Family Guy" episode include a song all about prom night dumpster babies and a musical centered around Terry Schiavo. It seems like the "Family Guy" writing staff has no problems with taking the touchiest of subject matter and turning it into comedy gold. 

But occasionally, even the people who work on the show are surprised when a certain joke makes it in. That was the case with one particular zinger, as Rich Appel revealed during an exclusive interview with Looper

Rich Appel was amazed the Jimmy Connors joke made it in

After being on the air for over 20 seasons at this point, it seems like "Family Guy" could probably get away with anything. Still, it's astonishing that one joke made it past the censors during Season 18, Episode 9, "Christmas Is Coming." Honestly, that episode title is already pushing the limits of good taste. 

In it, Meg (Mila Kunis) goes through a sexual awakening after sitting on a mall Santa's lap with his leg bouncing up and down. She compares the experience to Jimmy Connors and goes about the rest of the episode trying to relive the sensation. By the episode's end, Jimmy Connors shows up in Meg's bedroom and hands her two tennis balls. He tells her that if she ever needs him, all she has to do is rub his balls, and he'll come. 

Rich Appel was as shocked as anyone that the joke made it into the episode, saying, "I fought the valiant fight and had a steam — 'How could this not air?' When they agreed to air, I was like, 'You're kidding.'" 

Despite seemingly being able to get away with anything, Appel knows the limits they have to work within, even though the studios have a good sense of humor about themselves ... most of the time. Appel stated, "There are a few rules we know to follow, and with certain storylines, even as long as there's a way to interpret something that is appropriate, if other minds might take it a certain direction — well, that's on them, or that's more acceptable."

New episodes of "Family Guy" Season 21 air on Fox at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.