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Comedian and actor Larry the Cable Guy has successfully marketed his blue-collar-based humor to become one of the top grossing stand-up comedians working today.
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Dan Whitney had found his voice. He'd also found some like-minded comedian friends, including another up-and-comer named Jeff Foxworthy, whom he'd met in the mid 1980s. Together the two "riffed on old country accents" and told "jokes to each other that way."
As Foxworthy's career blossomed, so did his friend's. Larry became a regular on Foxworthy's Country Countdown Show,
and eventually the comedian syndicated his act to radio markets around the country. Real success and real wealth came about in 2000, when Foxworthy invited his friend to join him and fellow comedian Bill Engvall on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
The show turned into a smash success, grossing $15 million, and selling another 1 million DVDs. The following year, Larry released his full-length CD, Lord, I Apologize—the name comes from another signature Larry the Cable Guy line—which went on to sell more than 500,000 copies.
Soon, Larry the Cable Guy (his face, his voice, his shtick) was everywhere; on The Tonight Show, on Live with Regis and Kelly, on Comedy Central of course, on the big screen as the voice of Mater in the 2006 animated movie hit, Cars, and in stadiums across the country. His DVD special, Git-R-Done, which was released in 2005, sold more than 1 million copies and went platinum. That same year, the audio CD, The Right to Bear Arms hit stores, and captured Billboard's comedy album of the year. Even better: It debuted at No. 7 on the charts, making it the highest selling comedy record since Steve Martin more than 30 years before.
The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, too, has been resurrected several times for many big-ratings TV performances, including a 2006 Washington, D.C., show that later earned a Grammy award.
Whitney's stadium shows—he does a number of them throughout the country each year—now earn the comedian a healthy six figures for each performance. This despite the fact that the comedian hates to fly, and instead travels to his shows by a bus that's been dubbed the Larry Mobile. In 2007, Forbes estimated overall income of the comedian to be in the neighborhood of $20 million.
Clinging to his Nebraska roots (the Orlando resident is a huge Huskers football fan) the Larry character is one that his fans claim centers on the everyday life of the working American male. But what's funny to some, hasn't exactly left everyone laughing. Critics, most notably Rolling Stone magazine, which called him out as a "racist" and "slightly dim," have countered that his material caters to a comedy consuming public that's not exactly politically correct.
Larry's response: Lighten up. "I have things that make me laugh things that don't make me laugh," the comedian told 60 Minutes. "Retarded kids do funny things and I'm sorry if it makes me laugh. That's just insane that people would get angry about that."
Whitney's comedy hungry audience seems to agree. In September 2009, Larry the Cable Guy released his fifth audio CD, Tailgate Party, a live performance that was recorded at the University Nebraska's Memorial Stadium before a packed house of 53,000 fans.
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