Comedian Daniel Whitney’s career hit superstardom when he took on the persona of Larry the Cable Guy, a blue-collar Southern man with the catchphrase “Git-R-Done!” Now with best-selling books and albums, a prominent role in the Disney-Pixar “Cars” franchise and a Sirius XM show on Blue Collar Radio, Larry the Cable Guy is teaming with his former touring partner Jeff Foxworthy for a duo appearance at the Erie County Fair Aug. 14.
Whitney floated in and out of the Cable Guy voice during a recent phone interview, talking about his current tour with Foxworthy and how his career arc changed when he became a family man. While the Erie County Fair is the only show on his tour that doesn’t incorporate musical guests, Whitney anticipates getting it done with a great time for the Buffalo crowds.
Question: Both of you guys are household comedy names and can obviously headline with solo shows. Why are you guys teaming up now?
Answer: Out of all the Blue Collar Guys, I’ve known Jeff the longest. We had never really toured before, so we toured together and had a great time doing it. We decided to do something a little different and put together comedy and music. When the idea came to us to do a summer outdoor bar-b-que thing with a couple of classic rock bands, it sounded like fun.
Q: When you have an equal partner on stage, is there less pressure on you as a performer than there would be if it was just you as a headliner?
A: It’s always fun to have somebody else with you. It just makes the gig so much (more) fun. I guess it takes a little bit of the pressure off of you. I think (Richard) Jeni said it best, "The good thing about tonight is that it’s an early show; if I suck, you got the rest of the night." Basically, if I’m the only act and I suck, your night is ruined because nobody else is coming on after me. But I think we’re beyond that; we’ve always got something that’s going to get a laugh. I don’t really worry about sucking. You’re just worried about everything running smoothly. It will be fun. I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Do your comedy/music shows take you back to when you were starting out, doing open mics at a bar where you’re competing with things like a game on TV or a jukebox?
A: (Laughs) Jeff and I just a thing out in Montana in the middle of nowhere. I was telling one of the other comedians, who was saying [the crowd] was going to be tough because they’re all yelling and stuff. I said, "Man, it takes me back to the early days of stand-up." That’s why you do the early days of stand-up, because you get yourself in every situation that you can think of and it gears you up for later on in your career so you can handle anything. I remember back in the day doing a show in Miami on South Beach. [We were] doing a show at a dance club and they took 10 minutes off for the comedian to come up. You’d go up and nobody was listening, but now you know why you did those gigs.
Q: You’re a big part of the “Cars” franchise, which started 11 years ago. A lot of those kids who watched the first movie are now probably old enough to buy tickets to your shows. Have you noticed a new audience coming in?
A: I’ve always had a pretty good mix of people. Every once in a while, they’ll bring their kids because I’m Mater, but if they come to just my comedy show, it’s not dirty or anything. It’s more like PG-14; pretty good for 14 minutes. I never thought I’d do kids movies, I just kind of rolled with it. I’m glad I did though, because they came along right when I started having kids. When you have kids, your life changes and your priorities change. When I first started doing Larry the Cable Guy on stage, I didn’t care about anything except having a good time and doing jokes. I made up everything for the character. Then I got married and had kids, so my act has evolved and changed. I went from a hard Larry the Cable Guy to a soft, family Larry the Cable Guy.
Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy
7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Erie County Fair. Tickets are $55 to $65. ecfair.org