Comedian Jeff Foxworthy brings a lot more than jokes with him to this weekend’s shows at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.
He brings experience.
“It’s been a little while since I’ve been to Tulsa,” Foxworthy said during a recent telephone interview.
“There were so many incarnations of my Blue Collar Comedy through the years, it’s nice to have the stage to myself for a change.”
Since 1984, he’s made himself a comedic mainstay — and household name — with his now-classic “You might be a redneck if” one-liners, his Blue Collar Comedy tours, books and work on film and TV.
Foxworthy paused, then laughed, giving credit where it’s due to his longtime comedy cohorts Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and Ron White.
“The downside of this tour is I also get the stage all to myself.”
He’ll present two solo shows Saturday at The Joint. He’s no stranger to solo stops, though — his top-selling comedy albums include “You Might Be a Redneck If,” “Games Rednecks Play” and “Totally Committed.” He’s also penned over a dozen books and hosted hit TV game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” from 2007-2009.
These days, he’s also host of “The American Bible Challenge,” which premiered Aug. 23 on the Game Show Network. “It’s like ‘Fifth Grader’ but with Bible trivia,” he explained. “I was a little bit worried when I was first approached about the show. But it works. You know, I didn’t want to be the guy standing in line in Hell going, ‘Awww, it was the game show, right?!’”
All “Bible Challenge” winnings go to charity, and Foxworthy shares stories with the audience about how the money is spent. The new show quickly became the highest-rated show in the network’s history, he said.
Foxworthy admits that what’s made his work appealing to so many people for more than three decades is that it’s what he calls “common man” comedy.
“I’m comfortable with that phrase, absolutely,” he said. “I had no handbook. There wasn’t
a guideline to anything when I started. If I do something that I think is funny, if my friends do it, if my family does it, I always figured that people will relate. My comedy is very honest,” he said.
It’s also autobiographical. Yes, he’s a redneck. He often cracked wise on the job with IBM years ago, so his pals entered him in a stand-up contest.
“It was a contest for working comics,” he said. “I got there and was like, ‘Oh. My. Gosh.’”
He won, and hoped to get two years out of comedy. Soon he met friends Larry, Engvall and White, and in 2000, decided to launch a “Kings of Comedy” for rednecks.
He quit his IBM job. (“It wasn’t any big deal, it was a good job, but I carried a tool bag. I wasn’t like, you know, Steve Jobs.”)
“The reason that worked so well is that we weren’t a comedy collective. We were friends, and we worked really hard to make each other laugh as well as our audience. That sort of spontaneity can’t be rehearsed.”
Twelve years later, the group is as popular now as ever. A recent live DVD, album and television special, “Them Idiots: Whirled Tour,” released in March, went to No. 1 on the Billboard comedy charts.
While he admits this tour will have a lot of new material, “I always carry 3x5 cards in my pocket to take notes. All of this is a snapshot of my life at any given time — dating, newlywed, kids, grown kids, travel, in-laws — my show is always growing.”
Though, with new and longtime fans at so many of the stops on his tour, he said the “You might be a redneck if” jokes always make people laugh.
“Sometimes, you have to do a ‘greatest hits’ of your past comedy. Everybody came to laugh together, and some of these jokes, well, they’re so true they never get old.”
His comedy often seems off-the-cuff because it is.
“I was introducing Ray Charles at the ESPY Awards,” he said of the 1997 host gig. “People to this day still ask me about this like it was planned. This is one reason I don’t host live awards shows any more. Literally, all I have to say is ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Ray Charles!’ when a red light comes on and I get a message ‘Wait a minute! Stall! Ray’s in the bathroom! Kill time!’ This is live television. I’m like, what?! And asked out loud, something like ‘He’s in the bathroom? We have to wait? ... Did he take a newspaper?’
“People still tell me that was their favorite part in the entire show. It was almost dead air."