Many of you probably know Ron White and if you don't, you would probably recognize him. He's the shaggy blonde-haired, chain-smoking, heavy drinking, suit-wearing member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. His shtick is closer to Seinfeld's than Foxworthy's but he maintains a southern attitude and outlook through and though. He's often described as the "'least southern' of the quartet (Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy) but he's found a home in the hearts of those less inclined to pronounce their "ing's." I had the pleasure of talking to him a week ago about smoking, comedy, scotch, Snoop Dogg and his new CD/DVD, "You Can't Fix Stupid."
Streeter: I saw you on Leno last night. How was that? Sitting next to Snoop and everything?
Ron White: I'm not really much of a hip-hop guy, I'm more familiar with his work from "Girls Gone Wild". Fantastic. He was very cool, we talked afterwards. He's got a great vibe. I just think he's a wonderful fella.
S: You seemed really comfortable there. You don't see many guests on shows talking to the other guests.
RW: Well, I had been drinking a little scotch earlier that afternoon. And Jay was a little surprised that I was gonna come out with a cigar and a scotch.
S: He said that the last time someone smoked on there was"
RW: George Goebel. That's 20 years.
S: You're really breaking down barriers everywhere you go. On the show you're smoking a cigar. Normally don't you smoke cigarettes?
RW: No, I quit smoking cigarettes 2 years ago.
RW: Yeah, and with the $80 a month I'm saving not smoking cigarettes, I'm smoking $700 worth of cigars.
S: Tell me a little bit about getting started. You said that Jeff Foxworthy helped you out a lot?
RW: Well, getting started, Jeff helped me out a lot. He sat me down the first day I ever started, he was the head of the club Arlington, Texas Funny Bone, showed me how to restructure my three jokes, and he told me the famous quote of his, he said: "You're real funny but you need to put the punch line at the end of the joke." I was like, he was nobody at the time, just a low paid headliner, and he had only been doing standup for probably 4 years, but he got good so fast. So we sat down, he was that generous even then, to a brand new comedian, and rewrote the jokes to where they worked. I mean they worked before, but whatever I would say, I would say the funny part, but I would have something else to say, and it would step on the laugh. Then we played golf together the next day, and we were in a car wreck, and we've been friends ever since.
S: You're recently married and your wife comes up a lot in your standup. How does she react to her being the butt of so many jokes?
RW: Well she keeps the paychecks, so that takes the sting out of it. She really doesn't. I mean, where she and I get sideways is I'll be doing an interview in my office and her office is next to mine at home, and you don't know the kind of questions you're going to get. Last week someone said, "Who do you think is the sexiest actress on television, or actress period?" And I said, "Halle Berry, she just makes me drool." Well this sticks in my wife's craw. She goes, "You really hurt my feelings." And I'm like, "you know what, quit listening to my goddamn interviews. I can't say wait a minute, I'd rather not answer that question because my wife might be offended. I don't want to look like a dick-less piece of shit."
S: I was going to ask you about movies vs. live comedy. Would you rather be on TV sketches doing standup or do you like the live audience?
RW: Oh I only like the live audience. I don't even like to do standup where it's being filmed. Because it affects the way the audience responds to what you say, because it makes them uncomfortable. You have to perform in a light room, and I prefer a dark room. But I love to perform, and I don't really see myself doing any television at all, and maybe some movies, but standup, you know, it's not a means to an end with me. Not a "one-trick pony" that's what I'm saying.
S: I did read that you are developing an animated series for TBS.
RW: That I'm really interested in.
S: Want to tell us a little bit more about the premise?
RW: It's just they call it "'Tater Salad" and it's just me as a character in an animated series, and the guy that's directing it is one of the creators of Family Guy, and the head writer used to run The Simpsons. So we got some really good people. They like my voice for cartoons, so we'll see. We're making a pilot right nowa seven-minute version of the cartoon, and after that they can buy whatever they want to buy. But that interests me, because I can do the voice work in Atlanta, and I don't like to go out to LA very much.
S: I know you refuse to mention it on the CD, but what do you drink on stage?
RW: Well on that DVD it was 25 year-old McAllen.
S: That's some good stuff.
RW: That's like a $450 bottle of scotch.
S: Just whatever's lying around, huh?
RW: Well the venues have to give it to me, it's on my rider.
S: What else is on there?
RW: That's it.
S: That's it, just scotch?
S: I wanted to know your influences as a comedian, who do you like, who's your favorite comedian?
RW: Well, Bill Hicks is easily the best comedian I've ever seen.
S: Is it just Hicks?
RW: No that's not true, I still love Carlin to this day, and Cosby, I'd pay to see Cosby. I don't know which one influenced me more, or anybody, I think it's just a combination of me being a big comedy fan. Doug Stanhope, if you can get him to perform, is just a stitch. He's great. You can get his stuff mostly online, funniest shit, I was just listening to stuff of his on the comedy channel, it was just killing me. I like Lisa Lampanelli, I think Nick DiPaolo just cracks me up. Larry the Cable Guy makes me laugh. Offstage he's just the quickest witted person I've ever met.
S: I've always just wondered if that was just a character he plays.
RW: Well his father was a preacher and a pig farmer, so in it much of a character. But he's a lot smarter than you think he is, you know. He's actually a brilliant guy, but he's a hick. A brilliant hick; just like Foxworthy.
S: Finally if you could say one piece of advice to our readers who are mostly stoned college kids what would it be?
RW: Vaporize. Don't smoke.
Ron's new CD/DVD "You Can't Fix Stupid" is out now and be sure to swing by his website, TaterSalad.com