Will Dan Whitney Sell Out Alltel? | Ninja Poodles Local

Friday, September 8, 2006

Will Dan Whitney Sell Out Alltel?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2006 at 6:11 PM

Or, more relevantly, since he's slated to perform there next month, will his creation, "Larry the Cable Guy?"    If, by some act of blessed, personal aural protection, like, say, you have a particularly vigilant guardian angel who is specifically assigned to guard just your ears, and you have amazingly missed out on the gutteral, overdone fake Southern drawl growling out the ubiquitous catch phrase, "GIT-R-DONE," then, in the first place, you you are very, very lucky.  But also, you have never been subjected to the "comedy stylings" of Dan Whitney, in character as the dim-witted, beer-bellied, self-described "Southern Redneck" who is only seen in public in his signature ballcap and sleeveless-flannel-shirt-over-t-shirt, known as "Larry the Cable Guy."  Think Jim Varney as that "Hey, Vern!" guy, only a whole lot grosser, meaner, and a crude bigot to boot.  He's very popular, this character of Dan's, and that baffles me, because his "act" feels, to me, as an ACTUAL Southerner, a whole lot more like being laughed AT than laughed WITH, as Whitney insists is his intent. "Larry" is an alter-ego that Whitney first developed as a comedic voice on the other end of the telephone for call-in segments of a Florida radio show.  He had other voice-characters, but reportedly found that the "Larry" character "could say anything," and that was the beginning of the LTCG explosion.  By "say anything," I'm assuming that he means the more egregiously racist, homophobic, misogynistic, Southerner-bashing, and disgusting portions of his routine that presumably wouldn't be as funny coming from a person who didn't sound like he was pretending to be (an extremely uneducated person) from somewhere in the Deep South.

And Dan is definitely doing some great pretending, because he hails not from the South, "Deep" or otherwise, but from, um, Nebraska.  In fact, he currently owns two homes there, in addition to another one in Orlando, Florida...and a fourth, if you count his new Sky Box in the North End Zone of the football stadium at the University of Nebraska.   (And for what those things cost, I know I'd count it as a home, mainly because for me, it would require a 30-year mortgage to purchase.)  Well, he did move southward from Nebraska when in his teens, to the blue-collar, working-class community of, um, Palm Beach, Florida, where he attended private school

I don't really understand why, in order to fashion himself a "redneck," Whitney felt it neccessary to make his "Larry" character Southern.  I know that I've personally met rednecks from every part of the country--it's not something that's limited to the Southern states, but whatever.  I'm guessing that it gave him more unfounded stereotypes to mock (inbred, toothless, ignorant, racist, etc.) while convincing those he's mocking that he's ONE OF THEM.  It's brilliant marketing, really, because he certainly wasn't going to sell out any venues with his original schtick as just plain-old, khaki-and-sneaker-wearing, totally typical 80's comedian Dan Whitney.  <<< Click the link and check out that video--YIKES!

I was personally introduced to "Larry the Cable Guy" upon my first viewing of "Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie."  You know you've seen it.  Here's when we laughed, in relative order of perceived hilarity (Your Mileage May Vary):

1. During a surprising bit of Jeff Foxworthy's new-for-the-tour material that did NOT involve his tired "You might be a redneck if..." bit. 
2. During most of Bill Engvall's new-for-the-tour material that did NOT involve his equally tired "Here's your sign" bit.
3. During our first-ever exposure to Ron "Tater Salad" White.  Honestly, we laughed so hard at this "new guy," we could not believe we'd never heard of him before, and that he didn't (at that time) have any comedy CDs available, and wondered where in the world they'd found him, and were terribly glad they had.  Seriously--if you didn't laugh during the payoff of the "Tater Salad" story (see here, 1/4 of the way down the page, large block of text attributed to Ron) the first time you heard it, then your funnybone just might be all dessicated and powdery, and you should have it checked out.  From no one else would the line, "I don't know how many of them it would have taken to whip my a**, but I knew how many they were going to use," delivered with dry precision and cigarette and scotch-glass props, have been such a howler.  (Unfortunately, as we've learned since then, Ron's not so big on creating new material, which is a shame, since these stories tend to lose their comedic luster after the 4th or 5th review.)

Here is when we did NOT laugh:  Anytime "Larry the Cable Guy" was onstage.  I spent a good bit of his performances wondering whose sister he'd married, or who he had nekkid pictures of, Foxworthy or Engvall.  But to be fair, the other guys in the tour seem to think that "Larry" is HILARIOUS.  Each to his own.  Maybe on the bus between shows, he's a laugh riot, who knows?  All I know is, I felt like if I'd heard that "GIT-R-DONE" catch-phrase ONE MORE TIME that night, my brain would surely have ruptured my own eardrums in self-defense.

I merely do not enjoy the "work" of Whitney in his LTCG guise, or appreciate his bigotry, misogyny, racism, and mockery of the Southern working class--which, again, illustrates sheer brilliance in marketing: how can you be accused of mercilessly mocking a cultural group when you can pass yourself off as of one of them?  But there are some other people, notably other comics, who REALLY take issue with what Dan is doing:  There is, for instance, the very public feud between Whitney and the screamingly talented David Cross (he played Tobias in the late, lamented "Arrested Development")--most notably, Cross'  "open letter to Larry the Cable Guy".  Comedian Steve Hoffstetter actually titled his latest comedy CD "Cure for the Cable Guy," and devoted a 7-minute video to explaining the reasons for his contempt of Whitney's LTCG brand of humor.

And to be fair, Dan Whitney may be a perfectly lovely person in "real life"--he's a husband and father, after all, and I tend to give fellow parents the benefit of the doubt, since becoming one myself--but since he never breaks character in public, I pretty much can't stand the sight or sound of him. So what I'm really wondering is, now that there's been time for the novelty of his act to wear off, is he still selling out venues?  Last I checked, North Little Rock, Arkansas didn't appear on his "official" list of tour dates, and doesn't that usually indicate that an act is doing well at the larger venues, and is packing in some smaller stops along the way, to maximize the profitability of the tour?

So, what do you all think?  I can see where Dan would consider Arkansas a prime target-market for his brand of humor...is it?  Do you believe he will sell out Alltel Arena in October?

You can also find Belinda online at her "home base," NINJA POODLES!

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