Tonight’s cuppa: decaf organic dark roast coffee

Last week, I had my first conversation with the charming and delightful comic and actor Dan Whitney, a k a "Larry the Cable Guy," in relation to his upcoming holiday special on CMT. "Larry the Cable Guy’s Star Studded Christmas Extravaganza."

Taped this past summer at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, it features co-host Tony Orlando (also on Whitney’s holiday special last year on VH1).

Inspired by classic Christmas variety shows of the 1970s, the 90-minute special premieres Nov. 21 on CMT (my syndicated feature story comes out that week), and then it is released on DVD on Nov. 25, in time for holiday giving.

Speaking just as himself and not as Larry — a cheerful, plaid-clad redneck with no sleeves whose catchphrase is "Git-R-Done!" — Whitney, a Florida resident born in Nebraska, had a few comments on a few issues not directly related to the special. Here’s a few of them.

On prospects for the return of the weekly variety series:

If you had the right person to do it, you could do a weekly one. It’s a lot of work, though. Tony Orlando talked to me about his show, how much fun it was and how much of a blast he had, but just how grueling and tiresome it was, to keep it fresh and do new sketches and new topics.

On television that tries to appeal to the urban-hipster audience:

Yeah, maybe. How much money are urban hipsters going out and spending? I’m in my 40s, and all my friends are in their 40s, and they’re buying a lot of crap. Nobody markets to us anymore.

On stigmas, stereotypes and Southern accents:

If you go against the mainstream now, you’re considered a redneck. Some people on the coasts
consider anybody in the flyover, that they’re all back-a** idiots, and inbred, too, which is completely wrong….I’m portraying just a dumb guy (as Larry), but there are lots of people who have Southern accents that are brilliant people. Some people think I’m stereotyping everybody, but I’m not.

Certain areas get a certain stigma about them, and it’s wrong to do that. There’s a lot of people that live in small-town America that are brilliant people. In fact, a lot of your people who become big stars in Hollywood are from the Midwest. Look at Johnny Carson. He was from Nebraska,  just like I am. There are a lot of brilliant people that come out of small towns, that still live in small towns.

On the GOP vice-presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin:

They call Sarah Palin an idiot because she likes to hunt, and they call her this and they call her that, but compared to the people that are up in the Senate now, that put us in this stinking financial mess — they’re supposed to be the most brilliant minds around. Evidently they’re not too smart, either.

On the cultural divide:

I remember a long time ago, I was doing a showcase at the Improv in California, and I did a joke about a flea market. The lady that was picking people for the shows said, "I just didn’t get his jokes. What’s a flea market?" And I’m going, "Oh, gees, you’re buying shows to show to Middle America, and you don’t know what a flea market is?" It’s irritating. But you do what you can do.

On how he and his fellow Blue Collar Comedy Tour members — Bill Engvall ("The Bill Engvall Show"),
Jeff Foxworthy ("Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?") and Ron White — judge folks:

Us guys on the Blue Collar thing, I mean, they can call us whatever they want. We’re all good guys. We don’t judge people by their color. We judge people by whether they’re an idiot or if they’re not an idiot. That’s pretty much it.

On being called a redneck:

People can call "redneck," whatever they want to … I don’t see it as a bad thing. I just see it as a good, hardworking person that lives in a small area, doing the best he can to get by. There’s nothing wrong with that.

He doesn’t go out to wine tastings. He’s not into that kind of thing. I think we’ve come to some kind of a divide in our country where if you don’t do stuff like that, you’re dumber than everybody else. That’s not true at all.

On why he doesn’t watch network sitcoms:

There’s nothing that interests me about it at all. I don’t find any of it funny. All the punchlines are d*ck jokes. I’ve been around comedians for 23 years. I’ve heard pretty much all of them.

On whether doing such comedy movies as "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector," "Witless Protection" and "Delta Farce" is hard work:

When I was doing movie interviews and stuff, people would say, "Was it hard?" I’d go, "No, it wasn’t

hard. You read your script." I’m not a good actor, I don’t think, by any means. But I put out these goofy movies. I like doin’ ’em. They’re fun.

But is it hard? Am I drywalling a house? No. It’s funny, because you’ll hear some actors and actresses, "It’s grueling, and I really had to get into this character. It was long hours. We worked through the rain." And I’m thinking, "Turn on the ‘Ice Road Truckers’ or those frickin’ guys up there crabbing (on the Bering Sea), and then you tell me you’ve got a hard job."

UPDATE: Click here to go to a newer post featuring the syndicated feature story I did on the special.

Posted by:Kate O'Hare