Ron White doesn’t mince words on stage or during interviews. He has no problem naming comics who fail to amuse him: Dane Cook, Lisa Lampanelli and Dennis Miller are some of the popular stand-ups White rejects.
However, the latter inspired the stand-up to focus on his craft. “Being moved can happen in an unlikely place,” said White, calling from his Atlanta home. “A few years ago I was laying on my couch. I was thinking, ‘I’m rich, I’m lazy and it’s all right.’ I was lying there smoking a joint and drinking some booze.
“And then this Dennis Miller special came on, and it was awful. Dennis used to be a good comedian. But he slipped. I’m sure he was sitting in his Mendocino, Calif., home and someone offered him an (a lot) of money to get back in the game. Halfway through his terrible set, I left my very comfortable house to go to (Atlanta’s) Punchline. I didn’t want what happened to Miller to happen to me. Miller moved me, and I thank him.”
White, 57, is away from his spacious Atlanta mansion 180 nights a year delivering anecdotes to a rapt crowd, primarily composed of baby boomers. White waxes about whatever is on his mind, such as alcohol consumption. “People say that I’m an alcoholic and that’s not true,” White said. “I only drink when I work. I’m a workaholic.”
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When White, who performs Saturday at the Kansas Star Arena, takes the stage, it’s just him, a glass of scotch and a cigar. “Comedy is great because there’s no overhead,” White said. “I write all of my material. It’s all me. I’ve asked these guys in rock bands with all the 18-wheelers driving to the venue how they make money. I just don’t understand it. But I don’t understand a lot of things.”
The gregarious entertainer will be the first to admit that he’s a comedy savant. “All I know how to do is take what’s on my mind and spit it out funny,” White said. “I don’t know what else I could do besides comedy.”
The veteran humorist knows comedy but not the comedy business. When his close friend Jeff Foxworthy tried to rescue him from insolvency at the turn of the century by inviting him to be part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, White initially thumbed his nose at the concept.
“Jeff said, ‘We have this big comedy tour and if you play your cards right, you could be part of it,’ ” White recalled. “I said, ‘Why don’t I give you my cards and let you play them for me?’ … It shows you what a seer I am.”
The tours featuring Foxworthy, White, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy were a huge success. They led to albums, DVDs, movies and a TV show.
“The reason we became so popular was that we were truly seasoned comics,” White said. “It was also obvious that we were having fun. That was contagious. It was a blast. Our first album, ‘Blue Collar Comedy Tour,’ is the most successful comedy album of all time. I loved working with those guys.”
However, when “Blue Collar TV” debuted in 2004 on the WB, White made only a few appearances on the program.
“It just didn’t make sense for me to do that show,” White said. “It was Jeff’s show, and the rest of the guys would get a small piece of the action. I was making $75,000 a show at the time. I also thought their show would be worse than it was. I had to move on from the guys. I love them but I’m just too rowdy for them. Dan (Whitney aka Larry the Cable Guy) has to worry about Prilosec (which he endorses) when he does stand-up, but not me. I can say whatever the hell I want.”
And that’s exactly what White does. The laidback NFL fan (“I believe that a bad Super Bowl halftime show is still better than a soccer game”) has no problem expressing how he feels about Dane Cook’s “Isolated Incident.”
“I listened to that Dane Cook album,” White said. “I didn’t get it. I opened up the trash can lid and dropped it in there. I can’t help but do what I want and say what I say. I’m just being me.”