So, when I went to South Padre Island for Memorial Day weekend, I encountered something I rarely see in my usual trips to places like L.A., New York, Toronto, etc. It was “Larry the Cable Guy” merchandise. Like, cigarette lighters and such. Meanwhile, in one of my volleyball games, I would hear competing folks saying stuff like “Get ‘er done!,” Larry’s popular catchphrase.
So, Monday night, I decided to check this phenomenon out. After watching the horrible upset of the Phoenix Suns over favorites the San Antonio Spurs, I tuned in to Comedy Central. What I found was a Blue Collar TV marathon, the sketch comedy show hosted by the pivotal members of this “red state” comedy explosion, folks like Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy.
Now, living in Texas, I’ve certainly run into these names before… but hardly as much as other places in this area of the nation. Having said that, the whole Blue Collar TV thing is something I can appreciate, but also something I don’t quite understand. But, hey, I’m an open-minded guy. So, I settled in for a while to try and understand the phenomenon that is selling millions of records, attracting viewers nationwide, and selling out arena tours everywhere.
So, what did I find? Well, Blue Collar TV is not a funny television show. Like, not even Mad TV funny. I mean, one sketch was a parody of Rescue 911 (which is about as stale as you can get) and it featured three full minutes dedicated to a “What’s the phone number for 911?” joke (oh wait, I guess there is something even more stale). Now, say what you will about Saturday Night Live these days, but at least they try to stay fresh and their first seasons were among their best. The first seasons of Blue Collar TV are just really scary considering a good portion of Americans find it funny.
Now, as for the comedians themselves… I think Jeff Foxworthy is actually pretty funny, from a purist perspective. His “You might be a redneck if…” line of jokes are cliche now, but at their height, they were a new form of mastering the one-liner (ala Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, and Rodney Dangerfield). And in my opinion, if you can master the one-liner, you have some great talent.His sitcom sucked, but whatever, he’s got charm. Now, “Larry the Cable Guy” on the other hand, I don’t understand this at all. How much of this character is a joke? I mean, gags about “European” actually meaning “You’re a-peein’ on my shoe” is not original or funny.
So what is it that makes this show and these tours so popular? Is it part of the same explosion that made Passion of the Christ a massive hit, catering to a demographic that used to be under-served by the media? Is this all because of George W. Bush? Is having him in the White House somehow validation? Like the same mathematics that makes Bush president, makes Larry the Cable Guy a successful comedian? I don’t know, really. I do think it’s fascinating (and probably just smart business) that these guys have found a solid home on Comedy Central, the arguably left-leaning home of South Park and The Daily Show.
And, on the bright side, at least the Blue Collar comedians mean well. They seem like nice enough guys, though I’m really doubtful I would find their deep political beliefs very funny at all. But hey, if something is going to spell the doom of pop culture, I’ll have more comfort in it being these sweet comedians who just aren’t very funny over stuff like Jerry Springer or ClearPlay DVDs. Or, even Paris Hilton. Now, please global media, get her done.