He may have been born Daniel Lawrence Whitney, but he was raised on a Nebraska pig farm, an experience he says makes him more of a redneck than a Southern suburbanite could ever hope to be.
And anyone who says differently, Larry said: “They can kiss my ass.”
Larry the Cable Guy may not be a Southerner by birth, but he’s definitely one by the grace of God. He’s a Southerner now, having lived in Sanford, Fla., for 30 years. Besides, he says, being a redneck is more a state of mind than anything else.
“If you’re a conservative, and you believe in gun rights, and you believe in God, Hollywood thinks you’re a redneck,” he explains.
Yeah, he plays up the Southern accent when he’s onstage because it’s part of his routine.
But the attitude is real. And don’t even think of making fun of his fans.
“I know you’re trying to be funny,” he says, when asked how many trailers will go into foreclosure after their owners buy tickets to his Augusta show. “But the majority of Blue-Collar fans make above the minimum of average income.”
The graduate of a (now-defunct) Baptist college in Decatur, Ga., Larry and his wife Cara have two young children: a daughter, Reagan, and son, Wyatt. Of course, there’s now a high-tech security system around the humble comedian’s homestead surrounded by 2,800 acres of protected woods. But this cable guy doesn’t even have Comcast, and he’s not considering upgrading to Dish Network.
“I have a satellite dish,” Larry said, with a chuckle, and bursts into “Out Here in Paradise,” a song by country crooner John Anderson: “Five acres and a satellite dish, I don’t wanna go nowhere…”
And while his singing career may never take off — he also does a questionable rendition of Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” — his acting has found success in the low-brow “Delta Farce” and as Tow Mater in Disney’s “Cars” animated feature.
“I think I do an OK job,” he says. “It’s not like I’m makin’ Shakespeare.”
Still, it’s his standup that he returns to. It’s the most challenging, since it’s building every aspect of a show from the ground up. He speaks with unabashed affection and admiration for Blue Collar Comedy Tour brethren Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy. Late at night on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour bus, Larry said that Jeff Foxworthy is a spooner — “but he likes to stick a fork in every now and then.”
Larry takes his share of flack from critics, who accuse him of various misdeeds at both ends of the spectrum, from liberals who accused him of racism to conservatives who say his act further ingrains the stereotypical image of Southerners. But every DVD, CD and book — he can read, after all — that he’s released has gone gold, platinum or attained bestseller status. About 75 percent of his comedy tour is performed to arena crowds. In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated his earnings for the year at $20 million.
So the question is: When Larry pulls out his wallet, who shuts up fastest?
Larry the Cable Guy
James Brown Arena
Friday, April 17
What didn’t make it into the print story?
- If Larry the Cable Guy was a ventriloquist, his dummy would be Al Gore
- He’s not really Dave Coulier from “Full House.” “My wife thinks that one is hilarious.” Trivia: It’s said that Coulier was the inspiration for the Alannis Morisette song “You Outta Know.”
- He has never taken acting classes: “I think I do an okay job. It’s not like I’m makin’ Shakespeare.” Trivia: Hey, some people think that Shakespeare didn’t make Shakespeare.
- His fans are miscategorized. Trivia: “I know you’re trying to be funny,” he said, when asked how many trailers will go into foreclosure after their owners buy tickets to his Augusta show. “But the majority of blue-collar fans make above the minimum of average income.” My bad.
- In his spare time, he studies the history and politics surrounding the Civil War. Trivia: A “copperhead state” was a state that chose neutrality in the conflict. And here I thought that was Switzerland.
- Late at night on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour bus, Larry said that Jeff Foxworthy is a spooner – “but he likes to stick a fork in every now and then.” No word on whether or not Foxworthy is smarter than a redneck.
- Larry drove a black Dodge on a 12-inch lift until he did a mockumentary for country singer Toby Keith’s concert tour. Keith got his tour sponsor to send Larry a new Ford F250 in metallic silver.
- Larry immediately drove his new truck to a friend’s garage, put it up on a six-inch lift and put 35-inch-(somethings – tired? Rims? Squirrels?) on it. He put his old Dodge up for a charity auction for juvenile diabetes and raised $23,000. “And I miss that truck. I almost cried when the guy drove it out of my driveway,” he laughed.