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March 20, 2017

Gittin’-r-Done with Larry The Cable Guy, Part 1



Welcome, Husker Nation, to a very exciting edition of the Carriker Chronicles. Today I am joined by one of the funniest human beings on the face of God’s green earth, and an avid Cornhusker Football fan -- Mr. Larry The Cable Guy! How are you doing, sir?

LCG: Mr. Adam Carriker, you know I love you! I practically raised your kids.

AC: That’s the truth, I can’t argue with that. That’s why they’re so well behaved.

LCG: Well I hope you can hear me okay, I’m in my truck and I’m headed down to see somebody in the hospital down here, so -- I had this interview scheduled to where it was timed up perfectly and you called me up and said we had to delay a few minutes, so now I’m in my truck!

AC: Ahh, minor family emergencies. We actually got it cleaned up quicker than I thought we would be able to. But, I would like to talk --

LCG: How old are your kids?

AC: Jacob is 7, Addison is 5, Trinity is 4, the twins are 1, and we have another one on the way.

LCG: All right, so did you have to go wipe one of the twins, is that why you were late?

AC: I feel like I’m constantly wiping both of the twins to be honest with you.

LCG: Hey Adam, you ever notice when you have kids that are potty training, they always go “Mom, I’m done, mom, I’m done!” You know why they never yell “Dad I’m done?” (Why?) Because we don’t know how to wipe our own butts!

AC: Hey, I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.

LCG: Hey, you ever notice men wipe their butts with long division? We always leave a remainder.

AC: There’s so much truth to that!

LCG: Well, that’s a very truthful comment.

AC: All right, now you are obviously a very funny guy. I wanted to talk to you about how you got into comedy. You’re from Nebraska, you take the comedy route; how did you get into the comedy line of work?

LCG: Well, just a real quick Cliffs Notes. I grew up in Southeast Nebraska on a pig farm in Pawnee City. We had hogs, some horses, some cattle, mainly hogs. I grew up next to the barn and I loved it there and I loved Nebraska. Then my dad got a job in Florida so we moved to Florida when I was almost 16 years old. And I lived in Florida -- I was going to a college, a Baptist college in Georgia. I was playing baseball and I loved it. I had to work though, because my parents didn’t pay my way. That’s how they used to do it back in the day. If your parents couldn’t afford it you had to work your way through college. That’s why I always get irritated when people go “Well, I’m not going to be able to send my kid to college.” Well, make them work! I had to work! Lazy pud, make him get a job, that’s what I had to do! (I’m not going to argue with ya.) Everybody’s coddled now, but anyway -- I wanted to sit out a semester so I didn’t have to ... I wanted to work so I could make money so I didn’t have to work during baseball season. That way I could get everything paid off that semester and I could just concentrate on playing baseball. I didn’t really care about school work.

I started, well, a buddy of mine persuaded me to get into an open mic comedy night in a bar in West Palm Beach, Florida so I went on stage in October of 1985 and I got hooked on it and just never went back. It was something that I really enjoyed doing, and that’s how I pretty much started. I started in May of 1985 and went professional in May of 1988. I developed my character that I do now, Larry The Cable Guy. My real name is Dan, as most everybody knows. I developed that in 1991 on a radio station, and started doing it on stage around 1995-96. I hooked up with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour in 1999-2000, and the rest is comedy history. And here I am, talking to Adam Carriker.

AC: Well, I would say you’ve had some mild to extremely moderate success at the comedy thing (Haha, you think I had some moderate success?) as I sit here wearing a cutoff flannel shirt trying to look like you, because obviously, you’re my hero.

LCG: That was the best choice I ever did was wearing a sleeveless shirt, because you’re built like me. I know you’ve lost weight, but you’re a big ol football player. We always wear our shirts untucked, us bigger guys. A flannel shirt always fits really good, it don’t cling to ya, run low in the back, a little higher in the front, make you look a little bigger. And I would always cut the sleeves off in the summertime because it was nice and cool, and I guess I got pigeonholed and stuck as the guy with the sleeveless outfit. The cool thing about that is, no matter where I go, I don’t have to dress up. If I’m invited as Larry The Cable Guy, they’re disappointed if I don’t show up with something sleeveless on. If I go as myself, I never really used to dress up anyway when I was a kid in Florida. I always wore shorts, t-shirts, and shirts with no sleeves. I’m good either way. I don’t have to dress up for anything anymore!

AC: Well you know, you and I are pretty much identical twins. And here’s something people may not know about me. I used to walk around in the middle of Nebraska winters on campus, in shorts and a cutoff workout shirt. It wasn’t flannel, but a cutoff workout shirt. So I’m right there with ya on the cutoff shirt, man.

LCG: Well, yeah, we can do that because we got a little extra padding, so us big guys, we walk outside when it’s 35 degrees, and go man, it’s nice out here today! I mean, it gets to be 45-50 degrees, we get hot!

AC: Hey, truer words have never been spoken. But I gotta ask you, how did you come up with Larry The Cable Guy? You grew up in Pawnee, Nebraska until you went to Florida, and you know, us Nebraskans, we’re not known for having an accent, but Larry has a bit of an accent. So how did that develop?

LCG: Well, I always tell everybody that me, Dan Whitney is from Nebraska, Larry The Cable Guy is from Florida. When I went to Florida, I gravitated toward all the tractor kids, because I’m a country kid. So when I moved to Florida, I gravitated toward all the kids out in the country. When we first moved down here, I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and I hated it at first. Then I went to school, and I went from a class of 30 to a class of 116. There were 16 girls when I went to school in Pawnee, I had about 85 to choose from! There were a lot more girls, and when you’re 16 years old, you’re looking at the ladies. Again, I gravitated toward the country kids. A lot of people don’t know it, but at one time, Florida was the number one cattle producing state, and it was sitting at number 5. I don’t know what it is now, I’ll have to check Google. But there was a lot of country kids down there. That’s why the Florida-Georgia football game is always such a big deal, they always try to out redneck one another. So I just kind of picked up the accent, cuz all my friends were southern and they talked like that. The more years I was there, the more friends I got, the more I started picking it up. What solidified it was when I went to college in Georgia, my roommate for two and a half years was from Beaumont, Texas and the other one was from Dalton, Georgia. And I started doing stand-up, met Foxworthy in 1986 and we became real good friends. That’s when I developed him. I called the radio station one time and pretended that I was a cable installer, and it just kind of stuck. So people just started calling me Larry The Cable Guy because they heard it on the radio.

The accent, I picked up when I moved to Florida. I defy anybody to move to the south, hang out with a bunch of rednecks for two months, and not start talking like them, because it’s pretty hard to not do.

AC: There’s actually a lot of truth to that. I did a couple months of rehab down at the Andrews institute in Florida and I started to talk a little bit different. Then I came back up here and I didn’t talk like that anymore. It’s funny how people catch on to things like that.

LCG: Yeah, it’s like, my cousin’s in Wisconsin, so if I go there more than 10 days, next thing ya knoow, I’m taalkin’ like this, and we’re gonna goo a bear huntin, and eat some cheese curds, but it was a lot easier living in Florida because all my friends were in Sanford, Florida which is part of the redneck Riviera. So I just picked up the culture, and the accent, and it was just fun, I loved those days. Some of the funnest days of my life were in Sanford, Florida and West Palm Beach.

AC: Very cool, now I don’t know if you remember this or not, but it was two or three years ago, the Cars movie, Cars 2 had just come out and my son was big into it. And for his birthday, you called him as Mater and you wished him a happy birthday, and he thought that was the coolest thing ever. So I’ve gotta ask you, what is the favorite part of your job, or maybe the favorite project you’ve done to this point in your career?

LCG: Man, that’s gotta be up there, I tell you what, the reason I like Cars so much, is it was kind of a culmination of everything that I had done in my career. You know, I came up with this character, Larry The Cable Guy, I did it on the radio station; I was syndicated on about 27 radio stations, but I only got paid on maybe four of them. It was something I liked to do, but I was kind of hoping it would build to something, I thought I was unique, I was doing something nobody else was doing, and I called the radio station 5 days a week every year for 13 years. And in 2003, Pixar called me after hearing me on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and offered me the role of Mater which has become a huge success. Billions of dollars in merchandise sales. That really is probably my favorite thing, because it was a culmination of all my hard work, not just trying to go where the money was, always taking advantage of every opportunity that I could take advantage of, and just not quitting. And there were many times I said, this isn’t going anywhere, let me try something else, but I didn’t. I stuck with it and enjoyed it, and I knew it would pay off. So, when Cars came along, it was completely because he liked my voice and thought I was funny, and that was what he wanted the tow truck to sound like. And that was when I had Blue Collar 2 when Larry The Cable Guy got big as well. I would say Cars was the pinnacle thing that I did because everybody -- every A-list celebrity out there, especially when they have kids, wants to do a Pixar movie because their kids can watch it forever, and their grandkids, and so on. That’s probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done.

AC: That’s awesome. When you talk about calling radio stations five days a week for 13 years, and talk about earning your way through college, you’ve lived it. That’s awesome. I love that. I love to hear stuff like that.

LCG: It was funny, I gotta tell you. I learned that from Foxworthy. He used to say, there’s a lot of people funnier than me, but there ain’t nobody that works harder than me. And he said, you gotta understand, when you’re in show business, that’s a two part word. There’s the show part, and the business part. And I don’t care how good you are at the show part, if you’re not good at the business part, and they don’t come together, it’s like a golf game. You can have a good drive, but you gotta get the short game working. Same with show business. If you got a good show, and you got the business part, then it’s gonna come together and something’s gonna turn out for ya. And that’s exactly what happened.