Ron White, who was part of the very successful “Blue Collar Comedy” troupe, along with Larry the Cable Guy aka Dan Whitney, Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall, said people have no idea who Whitney really is.
“They all know how funny he is, but he’s a very smart guy as well,” White said. “He went to college and everything. I think he might have been the best educated among us.”
Whitney, who will perform Friday at the Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts in Salina, went to college at the Baptist University of America and the University of Nebraska. He dropped out when he was a junior to pursue a career in comedy.
“I think I made the right choice,” Whitney said in a recent phone interview. “I love making people laugh.”
Whitney, 51, has been very successful cracking up fans. His energy and silly bits have attracted a huge fan base. However, he has never been a critic’s darling.
“I’m fine with that,” Whitney said. “I don’t do shows for critics. Early on in my career, I cared about them. Who wouldn’t want to be liked by everybody? But it got to a point in which I was just happy with the fact that the people who come and buy the tickets laugh at what I do. That’s what it’s all about. Jeff (Foxworthy) puts it all in perspective. ‘Who cares what a critic writes or says,’ is what Jeff said. I’m right there with him.”
Comedy fans, who still crack up when Larry the Cable Guy’s signature line “git-r-done” is dropped, have made Whitney a star because they relate to Larry the Cable Guy in the same way that folks laugh at Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck” jokes.
“It might not be a New York or Los Angeles thing but people in between those cities get it,” Whitney said. “They know a guy like Larry. The reality is that just because you talk with an accent or speak in a manner, which is not grammatically correct, doesn’t mean you’re dumb. Speaking with an accent doesn’t mean you’re a racist either.”
The Blue Collar Guys, even the edgy White, are easy-going nice guys. Engvall and Foxworthy are laid-back entertainers. And there is Whitney. “He might be the friendliest, most genuine guy you’ll ever meet,” White said. “There was a time in which nobody was bigger than Larry the Cable Guy. But Dan is grounded and he loves doing charity work.”
His Git-R-Done Foundation has given away million to charities. “I love to give back,” Whitney said. “I’ve received so much. It makes you feel good to help out. I never would have guessed when I was starting out that things would go so well for me.”
When Whitney was growing up he loved goofy humor. “That’s not surprising, is it?” Whitney said. “I grew up loving Steve Martin. I loved his energy and the stupid jokes that were also so clever. The first album I ever bought was his ‘A Wild And Crazy Guy.’ I just thought he was hilarious.”
When Whitney isn’t cracking wise, he’s filming episodes of ‘Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy,” which airs on the History Channel. Whitney travels across the country to check out different jobs, lifestyles and hobbies.
“I’ve had so many fascinating experiences on the show,” Whitney said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do many different things. I had the chance to learn about being an astronaut and a logger and about what the Amish are about. It’s been an education,
“I never would have had that opportunity if it weren’t for my stand-up. It’s opened doors for me. It’s a good thing I didn’t stay in college and got a regular job.”