Larry The Cable Guy

Larry The Cable Guy was enjoying a rare day off from the road at his Florida home near “the most alligator-infested lake in the United States” when he talked to Pollstar about the events that led him to the Big Time, and a special dream of his.

“My goal is to make it into the Top 10 of the Pollstar concert list. But it’s killing me,” he said.

The Cable Guy said he was “the funniest bellhop at the Ramada” when a friend dared him to perform at a comedy night hosted by a radio station in 1986. But it wasn’t until 1992 that his career really took off.

“I started calling radio stations with political commentaries, with kind of a right-wing, Archie Bunker slant to everything. But unlike Archie Bunker, it’s a real likeable character,” Larry told Pollstar. “For 12 or 13 years I was getting up every morning at 6 o’clock to call in, Monday through Friday. I would maybe have two or three days off now and then. Some stations wanted two commentaries a day. I just developed my following like that.”

The invitation to join his pal Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Ron White on The Blue Collar Comedy Tour in 2000 was, in Larry’s opinion, one smart business move.

“Well, it was a struggling show. They saw I was kicking ass and they said, ‘You know who we really need to take this to the next level?'” he said, laughing. “So, I went ahead and canceled my dates at the Sizzler. I had a good buffet gig booked.”

The comic said he’d known Foxworthy for a while before he was asked to do “The History of Country Comedy” hosted by Foxworthy, Andy Griffith and Engvall at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium about four and a half years ago. At the time, The Cable Guy was selling out comedy clubs due to his radio station call-ins.

“Jeff and I had been friends for a long time but he got real busy, so I hadn’t talked to him in years. So, I flew up there and had the set of my life. I just killed and had a blast,” he said.

“I guess Jeff and Bill were looking to replace one of the guys on the tour, so they called me about a week later and asked me if I wanted to be a part of … the Blue Collar Tour.”

In his set, Larry, the church-going, strip club-loving redneck, expounds on topics such as the proper attire for a flea market, bodily functions, edible underwear and Saddam Hussein, and there’s one thing that can’t be ignored: It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s just funny.

J.P. Williams of Parallel Entertainment said he knew early on that Larry had what it takes to get to the next level, and in a hurry, when the two worked together on the Blue Collar tour.

Larry The Cable Guy

“He’s got a likeability that I have never seen in a human being. He’s like a young child,” Williams told Pollstar. “He gets away with stuff that 99 percent of all the comedians could never do. People were just taking to him.

“As a comic, if [the audience] isn’t buying what you’re selling, you’re dead.”

Larry regularly sells out venues, including second shows, on his non-stop schedule. His die-hard fans treat the shows like sporting events, short of tailgating, and dress like him. So, what makes Larry such a major draw?

“I refer to Larry as a guilty pleasure. His audience is not this ‘trailer trash,'” Williams said. “There’s no question his audience is blue collar, but a large part … is very white collar top executives. Those are the guys who have the problem with the guilty pleasure. ‘I graduated from Harvard. I shouldn’t be laughing this hard at this.'”

Williams and The Cable Guy teamed up when the comic’s manager decided to leave the business, and the two had already clicked personally and professionally during Blue Collar.

“J.P. and I got along from the minute I met him. He ‘got’ my sense of humor,” Larry said. “I knew what [J.P.] did for Jeff and Bill. He’s a genius at what he does and he’s smart. He’s really taken what I’ve built and taken it further. “

Williams set to work getting Larry booked into theatres and promoting his live album, Lord, I Apologize, that was originally released in 2001. The album was re-released on Universal Music last year and has since climbed to top spots on the country and comedy charts.

“He’s been averaging, I think, 25 dates (a month) and we’ve added shows on top. He’s working quite a bit, but he loves it,” Williams said. “He’s the first act I’ve had that went and got a [tour] bus, so he’s really doing it like a music act. His stage wardrobe is all of 30 bucks at a Wal-Mart. I think a rider requirement for Larry is 60 bucks at a mini-mart.”

Next up for Larry is taping a TV show called “Blue Collar TV,” which Williams describes as “very much an ‘In Living Color’ for middle America,” starting in May while fitting in some show dates. A fall arena tour is also in the works.