Dan Whitney, better known as his alter ego, Larry the Cable Guy, insists that he’s “very deadpan, very serious” before chortling into the phone.
“I like telling jokes and doing what I do, so I’m pretty much always in a good mood,” he says. “Let’s just say I don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Larry (as he likes to be called) makes an enviable living from his blue-collar-comedy shtick, with an affected Southern accent and redneck reference points. But although the comedian now calls Palm Beach County, Fla., home, he actually grew up in Nebraska, where a Midwestern twang was the norm. (Rumor has it that there’s even some footage of Larry’s early standup floating around YouTube.com, for those looking to hear the Cable Guy prior to his Southern turn.)
Other than the accent, he doesn’t see much of a difference between where he comes from and who he professes to be. “What I do is a character, but it’s a magnification of myself in a way,” he explains. “I’m a country kid—I grew up in the middle of nowhere in southeast Nebraska on a farm. I grew up baling hay and raising pigs, feeding horses, the whole deal. I grew up around guys like that, and I pull a lot of my comedy from experiences I had as a kid.”
Larry adds, “Stuff that I talk about and laugh about is stuff that my friends and I laugh about going down to eat down at Sunny’s Barbecue.”
Of course, the barbecue-fueled material might be going the way of the fat joke. The Cable Guy says he’s now on the NutriSystem diet, a claim that doesn’t seem to be in jest. Still, “I’m always wearing a sleeveless flannel and a pair of jeans, so I don’t think it really matters,” he says when asked if a physical change will distance himself from his fan base. “My face looks thinner. I look just like Brad Pitt, only different.”
Little is know about Larry’s private life, though he spends enough time in the spotlight to have cemented himself as a household name. From working-class catch phrases like “Git-R-Done” to his frequent standup engagements alongside blue-collar royalty Jeff Foxworthy, the Cable Guy’s routine is a well-rehearsed litany of one-liners and vaguely insulting wisecracks. But, not satisfied to rest on his (denim) laurels, Larry has also released six albums (most recently last year’s Christmas in Larryland), appeared in eight films and provided his voice for The Fox and the Hound 2 and the Cars film and video game.
If Larry the Cable Guy—the mastermind behind phrases like “scarier than Janet Reno coming at you in a negligee with a box of rubbers” and who utters what some have claimed are anti-gay sentiments—seems a strange choice for a voiceover in a kids’ film, he seems an even less likely fit for a comedy show in liberal Asheville.
But the comedian isn’t planning to revamp his material for his Asheville Civic Center show this week. “I’ve come to the realization after doing this that it doesn’t matter what kind of comedian you are,” he says. “Somebody’s getting pissed off at something you say. Somebody’s getting offended. Once you get over that, you can write some pretty funny stuff.
“I just got to the point of, ‘If you don’t think it’s funny, don’t come see me.’ If it’s a liberal town and liberals don’t like it, fine. I don’t do my shows for people who don’t like me; I do it for the people paying for tickets.”
However, Larry does have a couple of ground rules: No f-bombs, and no taking the Lord’s name in vain. “I cross the line a little bit, but not too much. As far as picking on stuff, I pick on myself more than I do anybody else,” he insists. Well, himself and skinny starlets (he claims he’s lost “like seven Nicole Richies” on his NutriSystem diet).
“It’s fun for me—I like to laugh at it, too,” he says. And then, as if to prove his point, he adds with a chuckle, “I’m my biggest fan.”
[Click here for the complete interview with Larry the Cable Guy.]
who: Larry the Cable Guy
what: Blue-collar comedy
where: Asheville Civic Center
when: Thursday, Feb. 7. 7:30 p.m. ($41.75. 251-5505)