Larry the Cable Guy heading to Aurora
By ERIC SCHELKOPF - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Whitney has garnered millions of fans over the years through his portrayal of lovable redneck Larry the Cable Guy.
Larry the Cable Guy will perform at 5 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. Tickets are available by calling 630-896-6666 or visiting www.paramountaurora.com.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Whitney about his illustrious career.
Eric Schelkopf: So, you were in central Illinois recently for your show “Only In America” on the History Channel. I saw you came across a farm that harvests deer pee.
Dan Whitney: That was a really cool story, because that was just a couple of kids, and it was just the perfect story for my show. That’s what it is about, it’s about being able to start your own businesses and having the ability to do it, having the ability to have an idea and become rich in the greatest country in the world.
ES: The episode kicked off the third season of “Only In America.” How do you like hosting the show? Do you think it is a good fit for your character?
DW: I like it because it shows my character, but it shows me, too. When I’m being funny and being goofy, I’m pumping Larry the Cable Guy, and when I’m talking about something serious or there’s something not joke worthy, I’m completely myself.
As you can tell, when I’m doing that show, half the time I have an accent, and half the time I don’t.
ES: How were you inspired to develop the Larry the Cable Guy character?
DW: I started developing it for radio, and I called in one day, and boom, people liked it.
I kind of patterned it after a likable Carroll O’Connor from “All in the Family.” Archie Bunker was hilarious, but he was mean. He was mean to people.
I wanted to be like that, but I wanted to be likable. And that’s kind of how it worked out. I just kind of did it completely for radio, not ever thinking that I would ever do it for stage.
And it just became popular. I enjoy it. It’s fun to write for. It gives me an escape to enjoy myself and write jokes that I love to write, and it’s just a lot of fun.
I grew up on a pig farm in a town of 1,200 in southeast Nebraska. So, I’m qualified to do redneck and country jokes, because that’s how I grew up.
ES: It seems like things really took off for you on the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” Did the stars just align right for you?
DW: The “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” was awesome. I was kind of like the Ringo Starr. I came along about 11 shows later when they got rid of one of the guys. They didn’t think he was blue collar enough.
And then I joined. Jeff Foxworthy and I have been friends for a long time, and he’s still one of my best buddies in the whole world.
They wanted somebody else that was not only like-minded like them, but somebody who could sell tickets. We all played off each other well.
ES: I’m kind of intrigued by how well the character has connected with people. “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” came out on DVD in August 2006 and sold more than one million copies in the first week of release. Does it surprise you about how people have connected with Larry the Cable Guy?
DW: No, not at all. It’s kind of an extension of myself, anyway. Obviously I know a little of what I’m talking about because I grew up that way.
No, it doesn’t surprise me, because I’m a nice person, and I’m good to my fans. In the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” we were regular guys. We were very accessible to our fans.
We’re not in the tabloids. We’re just four guys telling jokes and having a good time. And I think that’s what people like.
I knew “Health Inspector” would do well. For one, it was a funny movie, and it was just a movie that wasn’t making any political points.
It was just a movie trying to make people laugh.
ES: Do you have any advice for people trying to break into the comedy business?
DW: Just do it. If you think you want to be a comedian, you have to go on stage and try.