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Foxworthy serves up comedic comfort food

It's often said that you have to be a little screwy to be a stand-up comic, to use humor as a weapon against your psychoses and wield it in front of as many people as possible. If this is indeed a rule, then I propose that Jeff Foxworthy is the exception. Maybe my ability to reason has been clouded by the power of his folksiness, having just seen him perform the first of two shows on Saturday night at the Seneca Niagara Casino, but Foxworthy sure does seem like a guy who just likes telling jokes.

Where most comics pride themselves on being unpredictable, toying with expectations in ways that teach audiences something about themselves, Foxworthy does the opposite. During his leisurely paced 90-minute set, the 52-year-old Georgia native ended every story just the way we thought he would, depicting a world where all men are lovable oafs, all women are lovable nags, and all colonoscopies result in massive, cathartic farts.

By taking this purposefully telegraphed approach to subjects as universal as getting old, caring for the even older, and stupid people doing stuff, Foxworthy has created the ideal recipe for stand-up comfort food. Actually, it's less like stand-up and more like a sitcom -- wacky things are going to happen, like fat people having sex or men shopping for scented candles, but you always know that by the end of the joke, everything's gonna be all right.

So no, Foxworthy is not the adventurous type. But he's one of the biggest names in comedy for a reason. Although his most famous bit remains his wealth of "You might be a redneck" jokes -- a comedic formula that sounds ready made for insult comics, Foxworthy is so likable, his delivery so genuine, it's no wonder he's also got a gig as a game show host. (My favorite "redneck" joke of the night, for the record: "If you have a son named Dale Jr., and your name isn't Dale ")

These charms were out in full force on Saturday, with the thousands in attendance howling as one at the beginning of his set, which dealt with a family wedding in Alabama -- the details included a faxed invitation, hijinks at a Motel 6 and a ceremony held on the deck of an above-ground pool. Foxworthy talked a lot about family, focusing on the misunderstandings between loved ones that have served comics well since the beginning of time.

I liked him most during his streams of random observations, especially "Who closes the door when the bus driver gets off?" and "Why is it that it's $6 for a razor, and $2,000 for a box of replacements?"

For the most part though, Foxworthy stuck with the formula, soothing his loyal fans with his brand of comforting predictability. At one point, he started talking about how senior citizens become more and more like children the older they get. As I sat and waited for the adult diaper joke to wash over me, I realized that in a world of no surprises, sleep would be awfully easy to come by.


Jeff Foxworthy

Two performances Saturday evening in the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls.