You might be a redneck if… when your editor tells you Jeff Foxworthy is coming to town, you spend the next two weeks begging for a chance to interview the blue-collar comedy king. Guilty as charged.
Fourteen years ago, Jeff Foxworthy first decided to drop his $30,000-per-year job to try to struggle his way through the comedy circuit at smoky night clubs for about $20 a night.
From the time Foxworthy was young, comedy was a large part of his life, and when he decided to go on the road, he had plenty of experience to work with.
Though he has only been doing stand-up professionally for 14 years, he’s been performing for quite a bit longer.
“I used to save my allowance and buy Bill Cosby records,” Foxworthy said. “Then I’d go to school and do the acts for my friends.”
Along with Cosby, Foxworthy cites another, less likely, influence that helped him through the tough years.
“When I was working on the road, Leno was the ‘King of the Road Warriors,’ and he was really helpful to me,” Foxworthy said.
Throughout his first seven years, Foxworthy continued to struggle through the stand-up circuit, traveling all day to his next show, working all night, then getting up early the next morning to do publicity at radio stations.
“I was getting a tiny enough taste of success that it kept me getting the spurs to it,” he said. “I was really working hard — I averaged about 500 shows a year when I first got started.”
Aside from his award-winning stand-up act, Foxworthy is also the author of 11 New York Times best-seller-list books, including the latest in the series, “The Final Helping of You Might Be A Redneck If….” Foxworthy is also the host of a Top-25 country music countdown, which can be heard in Valencia County on Big I 107.9.
“Really, when I started doing radio, I didn’t think I would like it as much as I do,” he said. “I told them I can count backwards from 25 to 1, but I don’t think I can be serious the whole time. They said that would be great, and they’ve given me a lot of freedom.’
Besides radio and stage work, Foxworthy also had his own television show, co-starring pint-sized superstar Haley Joel Osment. Though the series was relatively successful, the show only lasted a short while.
“TV felt more like work than anything I’ve ever done,” Foxworthy said. “It was like having a job and working 15 hour days. It was also hard creatively.”
Despite the difficulty he had doing TV, Foxworthy said he is not opposed to doing TV again. However, he said the show would have to be taped in Atlanta.
“They can’t offer me enough money to move back to L.A.,” he said. “I’m at a point where being close to my family is most important. Right now, I can take my kids to school during the week and travel to my shows on the weekend.”
Though he does get to live in his hometown of Atlanta today, Foxworthy still spends a lot of time on the road. He says he spends the majority of his year traveling from show to show, except when he takes off time in the summer.
During the summer time, Foxworthy has to make good with his family, with whom he spends a lot of time joking about in his stand-up act.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Foxworthy said. “Because I use my family in my stand-up act, they tell me I have to take them on a vacation every year. The only problem, is when I take them on vacation, I get all kinds of new material.”
Though he has had a very diverse career, Foxworthy said his heart belongs on the stage.
“I think I’m really fortunate because I’ve gotten to do a lot of things,” he said. “It’s always been diverse, but stand-up has always been my favorite. After two weeks of not doing stand-up, I feel like a heroin addict looking for a stage. In stand-up, it’s just me on stage. If I go down in flames, it’s nobody’s fault but mine, and I like that.”
Foxworthy hasn’t been to Albuquerque since around 1989, when he opened up at a country music festival in the area.
Foxworthy is building material for his upcoming movie release, the “Blue-Collar Comedy Tour.” The movie is expected to be released in October and was spawned by the idea behind the “Original Kings of Comedy.”
“I was reading something in the newspaper that said the “Original Kings of Comedy” was for the hip, urban crowd,” Foxworthy recalled. “I said to someone ‘we should do something for the people who aren’t hip.'”
Foxworthy will be sharing the stage with a number of other comedians in the movie, including Bill Engvall (“Here’s your sign”), Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy. Though Foxworthy is excited about the movie and working with the other comedians, he says he is more comfortable being by himself.
“I like it when I’m by myself because it gives me more time on stage, and I can get out everything I want to say,” Foxworthy said.
Foxworthy will be appearing at Sandia Casino at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28. Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster.com