Interview with comedian Ron White
Interview date: 02/03/06
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Ron White has probably sold fewer record and concert tickets than his Blue Collar peers, but he is arguably the funniest of the bunch. His hilarious new album,You Can’t Fix Stupid [QuickTake review], dropped this week, and he chatted with Bullz-Eye about the real Larry the Cable Guy, crazy women, expensive scotch, and how utterly humorless he finds Dane Cook.
Ron White: Hey, David, Ron White.
Bullz-Eye: Ron White, how are you doing?
RW: I feel like a hundred pesos.
BE: Wow, you’re loaded.
RW: Yeah, that’s just over nine dollars.
BE: It’s a pleasure to talk with you. Thanks for spending the time totalk with us.
RW: No problem, buddy!
BE: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with our site, but I think you’d get a kick out of it. It’s got lots of scantily clad ladies on it.
RW: Oh, really?
BE: Oh, yeah.
RW: So what is the main purpose of this web site?
BE: It’s like an online Maxim.
RW: So it’s a magazine.
BE: Yeah. I cover music and movies and television and lots of other things as well.
BE: But the money is all in the ladies.
RW: I see. And so you subscribe to this service?
BE: No, it’s free.
RW: How does it make money?
RW: Oh, okay. And how does it do, do people watch it, tune in to see the tits and ass?
BE: I’m amazed over how much our viewership has gone up over the last 12 months.
RW: Well, great!
BE: Yeah. If it enables me to quit my office job to talk to guys like you, then I guess we’re doing something right.
RW: Absolutely. Congratulations on losing that office job.
BE: Thank you very much. So where are you right now? Are you on the west coast?
RW: Yeah, I did the “Tonight Show” (Wednesday, February 1) and Adam Corolla’s radio show this morning.
BE: Oh, so you’ve had a busy morning already.
RW: Yeah, and I fly out to Billings, Montana, do a show, then Fairbanks on Friday, Anchorage on Saturday, and then back to Atlanta. If you have the chance to fly from Anchorage to Atlanta, jump on it. It’s a hoot.
BE: Ow. Well, before we get started, I have to ask –
RW: I thought we were already started! I’ve given you my ‘A’ stuff already!
BE: Uh oh.
RW: Yeah, we’re in trouble.
BE: This is just a silly first question, but I wanted to ask you about this ‘do you’ve been sporting lately. You’ve got a David Cassidy thing doing here.
RW: Is that what it is?
BE: That’s what it looks like to me.
RW: I don’t know what picture you’re looking at, but my hair is an ever-changing, evolving thing.
BE: I’m looking at the cover of your new album.
RW: That’s David Cassidy? David Cassidy had long hair!
BE: Compared to what you looked like on the first Blue Collar DVD, this is long.
RW: Well, you should see what it was like before the first Blue Collar DVD. It was about five inches past my shoulder. So it went from there, to super-short, to….I’m just not going to stay locked in on one thing. I actually like my hair in that (picture). I hate it now, because it’s shorter than it is in that picture. So you can’t depend on me and my hair. It changes.
BE: I did an email interview with Larry the Cable Guy…
RW: Oh, congratulations.
BE: …but I asked him to tell me something about the other Blue Collar guys that the public wouldn’t know. So what do you think he said about you?
RW: Uhhhhhhhh (laughs), something he would know about me?
RW: Well, there’s a few things he would know about me, that nobody else would know, and I would hope that he doesn’t spread that around on the internet.
BE: Well, remember that this is an email interview, so he had some time to prepare his answers. And none of them are serious. What he said was that you once saw the Virgin Mary in a bag of pot.
RW: (laughs) Well, that’s true. That’s absolutely true. Nobody else could see it, either, but it looked like (the Virgin Mary).
BE: I eventually plan on asking all four of you this same question, so let’s hear your answers; tell me something about the other guys that we don’t know.
RW: Uh, well, Larry waxes his pubes. I don’t think a lot of people know that, because you don’t have a lot of chance to see them.
BE: Thank heaven for that.
RW: And it looks real nice, too. In a “Brokeback Mountain” kind of way.
BE: What is Dan (Whitney, Larry the Cable Guy’s real name) like in real life? I would bet that he’s next to nothing like Larry the Cable Guy.
RW: Ha ha ha ha! You couldn’t be wronger! You couldn’t. His daddy was a preacher and a pig farmer from Nebraska. So whaddaya want? He added the accent, maybe, a little bit heavier onstage, but he’s as right-wing as you can get, and is a genuine redneck. As is (Jeff) Foxworthy, as is (Bill) Engvall. But Engvall’s father was a doctor, so that’s not real redneck-y. But I was born and raised in a house with a dirt yard, which is pretty redneck-y. We didn’t waste money watering no grass.
BE: Are there two words in the English language scarier than ‘Lisa Lampanelli’?
RW: (laughs hard) Our publicist is her manager, Maggie Houlehan, and I actually love Lampanelli.
BE: She hammered you at the Foxworthy roast.
RW: Uh, what did she say?
BE: She said you disappointed more fat women than Jenny Craig, that vampires do more during the day than you do…I felt like she let Larry off scot-free, but she pounded you.
RW: You know what? (laughs) It has absolutely no effect. Anybody could say anything they want about me, and it literally never penetrates my skin. I care so little…and of course, (the roasts are) all done in good fun, but I’ll take any punch you can give me. And everybody says the same thing – I’m lazy, I drink too much – and those things are true, too. Nobody’s making that shit up. I drink like a fish. I drank on the “Tonight Show,” and smoked a cigar. Jay (Leno) said, “Nobody’s smoked on this show since George Gobel.”
BE: I didn’t know that they let people do that anymore.
RW: They don’t. I just did it anyway.
BE: Good for you. You made a joke on your new album about Courtney Love at the Pamela Anderson roast. Lisa (Lampanelli) told me that Courtney tried to make out with her backstage.
RW: Oh, I don’t doubt that.
BE: Do you have a good backstage Courtney Love story from that roast?
RW: I wasn’t at that roast.
BE: Oh, you weren’t?
RW: No. I just saw it (on TV), and saw that she was really fucked up. And in fact, I was more fucked up than Courtney Love at the Pamela Anderson roast at some shows, I’ll say it, and slightly less fucked up than Ron White at the Foxworthy roast, because I was lit, too. And so was Engvall, we started drinking as soon as we got there, for whatever reason. The first thing that Bill had to say was about a half of a page-long speech, or a third of a page, and he fucked it up, like, five times. And that’s why the first thing that Nick DiPaolo said was, “Great delivery, Bill. How long have you been doing this, a week?” Which just cracked me up, that’s a great slam, because Bill’s been doing standup for 23 years.
BE: Those roasts just go on forever, don’t they?
RW: Aw, fuck, yeah. And I can’t see why they put that (Foxworthy) roast in Manhattan. If you’re going to roast Foxworthy…I mean, he has fans everywhere else. And we’ve got fans everywhere else. And anywhere else in New York, we have fans, but in Manhattan, you’re just gonna get a whole bunch of people who have no idea who we are, who are coming because they got a free ticket. We could have sold tickets to this anywhere else. We don’t do many shows together, but we’re going to do two before the next movie filming, in March.
BE: So you are shooting another movie.
RW: Yeah, we’re shooting “Blue Collar 3: Enough Already.” I think that’s gonna be the name of it. Actually, it won’t be, because that would be funny. One of the shows is at the Gaylord Center in Nashville, and we’ve sold over 17,000 tickets.
BE: Holy smokes.
RW: Completely sold out, and actually, the sellout is at 16,000, and we’re at 17.2.
BE: The Viagra/donkey ride bit on your new album reminded me of another great Texas comedian, Bill Hicks.
RW: Oh, really?
BE: Yeah. Something in your delivery in, “Oh, shit, I broke an antler!” absolutely reminded me of Bill Hicks.
RW: You know what, that’s probably…Bill’s probably influenced my show in more ways than I know.
BE: Did you know him?
BE: You’re both Texas boys, and you’ve been doing standup for 19 years, so I figured you had crossed paths once or twice.
RW: Yeah, we did. But just me as a fan of his. I never opened shows for him. I opened shows for (Sam) Kinison. But I would just go see (Hicks) whenever he was in town. We weren’t exactly friends, but I’d shoot the shit with him backstage, and we just knew each other. And I was just totally enamored of everything he did. Every word that came out of his mouth, I was just on the floor. Easily the best comedian that ever lived, in my oh-pin-yawn.
BE: I couldn’t agree more. On the last Comedy Central special I saw of yours, you talked about getting a divorce. On this album, you talk about getting married. Sounds like you’ve had a very busy couple of years.
RW: I didn’t actually get a divorce, I broke up with somebody. I never married her. But I lived in Mexico at the time, and I owned and operated a pottery factory. And then I would fly out on the weekends and open for Jeff, and then come back run my pottery factory, which I loved. But it didn’t make any money; it turns out I was a pottery collector. The marketing never really came through. But I loved it, I had all these ladies working for me, it was beautiful, I thought it was great. But I was there with this crazy woman. One time she told a friend of mine, “Sometimes, when I see him in bed, I just want to stab him.” And my friend said, “Well, she was drunk when she said it.” And I said, “Fuck, that’s the only time I tell the truth!” You wanna get the truth out of me, get me hammered.
So it was hard. I couldn’t just dump her, and leave her in Mexico, I was the one that drug her down there. And a lot of the things I do, I do just because I don’t wanna look like an asshole. Whereas, I don’t care if I am an asshole, I just don’t wanna look like one in front of everybody else. But eventually, I just kind of called this intervention, and told her family that I’m leaving. And so you need to come get her. And they knew (why I was leaving). She was real good lookin’, gave amazing head, you know.
BE: But crazy women are like bad pennies, I think you did the right thing with the intervention part.
RW: Right. So that got her out of there. And literally, I’m living in a friend of mine’s attic, I have nothing, I have no possessions at all. A mattress that was on the floor, a Waterford crystal peanut bowl that the Foxworthys had given me for whatever reason, and a blanket and a pillow. And a lamp. And I was happy as a clam. The Blue Collar tour was just getting started. I didn’t get a piece of the first Blue Collar movie, I was just a hired hand. It was all Jeff’s money, and it should have been, because nobody would have showed up if it wasn’t for him. I just loved it (in the attic), and then I met Barbara, who was Jeff’s interior designer. She’s a great girl.
BE: Does it seem strange, after doing comedy for so many years, to watch your career suddenly explode like it has?
RW: Yeah, you know, I never even dreamed of it. I really didn’t. I saw myself more as Willie Nelson’s harmonica player. I would open for Jeff for the next 30 years. It was a great job, I love Jeff, it’s not much work. You’re just over there blowin’ the harp. My success is stemmed from his generosity. He believed in me as a comedian, even when (laughs) he didn’t believe in me as a person. He’s a pretty straight guy, and I’m boozin’ and whorin’, the same thing most people would do if they were put in my position.
BE: Oh, sure.
RW: It was just the only thing I cared about, getting laid, getting drunk, telling some jokes. But, I didn’t progress as a comedian.
BE: Are you saying that there’s more to life than that?
RW: (laughs) At this point, if you don’t do those things, the road is a drag. And that’s what’s going on in my life right now. The road life is just boring as shit.
BE: You lift your glass at some point in the album, and say that people ask you what you were drinking, and “if the company paid me to do it, I’d put it in their bottle and not mine.” I’ve got a couple drinking buddies that are big scotch fans, so I was curious what is was that you’re actually drinking.
RW: There’s 25-year-old Macallan in that bottle. It’s about a $400 bottle of scotch.
BE: Holy smokes. You’re topping my boys. They’re Glenlivet, Glenfiddich guys, and 12-year-old is about as far as they go.
RW: That’s swill.
BE: Sweet, they’ll love that. Who were your comedy heroes when you first hit the circuit?
RW: Well, I was a big comedy fan from the time I was a little kid. I was listening to comedy records when other kids were listening to the rock & roll records. But at the time (when I hit the clubs), it was Kinison. I didn’t really know much about Hicks at that point. But, you know, Pryor, Cosby, anyone that could get up there and do it, and really make me laugh, which was much easier to do then than it is now. I just admired them, and never really dreamed that I could do that, and certainly not at that level. It just pays to keep pedaling the bike, I guess.
BE: Who outside of the Blue Collar gang on the circuit makes you laugh today?
RW: Outside of the Blue Collar guys? Jim Gaffigan cracks me up. He’s just an unbelievably great writer, and fun to watch. He’s got a new special on Comedy Central that I just watched the other night, and my son really likes him. I really don’t watch much comedy anymore. I really liked (Mitch) Hedberg, and I really love Doug Stanhope’s standup, if you can actually get him to do it. He cracks me up. There’s a Canadian guy named Brent Butt that I think is very funny. It’s pretty obscure, but I don’t know what’s available from Brent in the US, because he doesn’t even acknowledge that the US is down here. He’s such a Canadian.
BE: Mitch Hedberg seems to be one of those comedians’ comedian. Dane Cook was talking about how much he loved him, and…
BE: Dane Cook?
RW: Who’s that? (White is totally pulling my leg here, and idiot that I am, I believe him.)
BE: Dane Cook is a wildly popular comedian. He’s a Boston guy, but he spends a lot of time in L.A. He just hosted “Saturday Night Live” recently. Very manic, funny guy. Very nice. He was pretty broken up about Mitch Hedberg as well.
RW: Did he know him?
BE: Not intimately. I think they were acquaintances, but I don’t know if it was any deeper than that.
RW: I was kidding, I know who Dane Cook is.
BE: I was gonna say, I was hoping you were pulling my leg.
RW: (He) does not make me laugh, at all, in any way, shape or form.
RW: It looks like smoke and mirrors. But it works for him, so…
BE: Yeah, incredibly well.
RW: I know he just sold out a 13,000-seat thing in Boston (for a future HBO special), and they’re going to put another one on sale. And I watch ticket and album sales every week, so I know what he does. It’s amazing.
BE: The album went platinum.
RW: What went platinum?
BE: His album (Retaliation).
RW: Neither one of them. Neither one of his albums are platinum, that’s a lie.
RW: Yeah, a blatant lie. I heard him tell it on the Bob & Tom Show. I mean, his albums have sold well, but one of them is at 550,000. That’s not platinum. And the other one’s at 450,000, and that’s not platinum. (Note: According to RIAA.org, Retaliation was certified platinum in December 2005.)
BE: That’s not even gold.
RW: No, it’s not even gold. So he does kind of over-exaggerate his accomplishments in this business. And in his mind, he’s a much better comedian than he really is. I heard him the other day, grouping himself with Cosby and Pryor…
RW: …and I’m like, “Fuuuuck youuuuu.”
BE: You’re kidding me.
RW: You don’t even have punch lines in your show, it’s all energy, and you’re good looking. But he really puts himself up there (with Cosby and Pryor). And he also puts down the guys from the Blue Collar tour.
BE: He didn’t say anything bad about you guys when I talked to him. (Note: in looking at the transcript to the Cook interview, it appears that he was indeed about to put himself above the Blue Collar guys, before the conversation took a different turn.) And he seemed rather humble when I talked with him.
RW: Well, that’s probably because somebody’s told him to be humble. He thinks of himself as edgy, but his material’s not edgy at all. I mean, he’s just got some piercings, and…whatever.
BE: Wow, that I didn’t expect. It’s funny, listening to this record; how big was the venue that you recorded the new album in?
RW: 1,800 seats.
BE: It sounds huge. It sounds cavernous compared to the last album.
RW: I think it was a little bigger than the last album, but it was done in Dallas. I did six shows, and I think we took it all off of one (show).
BE: The album is about 40 minutes. How long was the set?
RW: An hour. Twenty (extra) minutes, maybe.
BE: So you have a whole bunch of material that we haven’t heard yet.
RW: Well, I’m about do to another Blue Collar, so there’ll be 20 minutes of it, and then I’ll be out of material. I’m tapped as an entertainer.