This brand of humor brings with it some internecine warfare within the world of comics. Granted, disputes among comics rank next to TomKat’s baby in terms of overall insignificance. It’s not exactly Murrow vs. McCarthy, but David Cross, whose currency is a kind of vague hyper-intellectual social criticism associated with the Left, took on Larry in a Rolling Stone interview last year. “He’s in the right place at the right time for that gee-shucks, proud-to-be-a-redneck, I’m-just-a-straight-shooter-multimillionaire-in-cutoff-flannel-selling-ring-tones act. That’s where we are as a nation now. We’re in a stage of vague American values and anti-intellectual pride,” Cross said.
Larry fired back, “America’s sick of payin’ good money for a comedy show that only earns one laugh every 12 minutes because the comedian onstage is too busy demonstratin’ how much smarter he is than his audience.”
But Larry’s audience is not restricted to working Joes and Southern hayseeds. It is much more likely that Larry’s audience is made up of white-collar family guys—smart guys—who live in the suburbs of Atlanta or Charlotte and work for large multinational corporations. For most Larry fans, their blue collars and red necks are things of the past, if they ever really existed. They live in the New South, the new, post-9/11 America, and the new, flatter, smaller, world, and they feel like they don’t really fit. Life, they think, is supposed to be simpler. Life used to be simpler. Larry offers them that simplicity, and a “real” identity. Larry is their Alter Id.
Everything Larry says sounds familiar. It sounds a lot like another fake Southerner, a good old boy from Crawford, Texas, who was born in Connecticut. A regular guy whose father was head of the CIA, vice president for eight years, and president for another four. All of this sounds exactly like the nostalgia for a simpler, hard-working America that has allowed real blue collar Americans to vote themselves into poverty. “Git-R-Done” sounds a lot like “Mission Accomplished.” In his book, Larry talks about that phrase and its use among soldiers in Iraq. “Our soldiers have sent me all sorts of pictures showin’ ‘Git-R-Done!’ plastered on tanks, jeeps, Humvees, helicopters, and the titties of Iraqi whores. That’s Awesome! …They’re saying ‘We’re Americans and we’re comin’ to kick your dictator’s ass so you can have some sense of freedom.’” This sounds frighteningly similar to America’s current policy on the war.
To be fair, Larry is not an overtly political comedian (although he does devote 29 pages of his book to a chapter called “Politics”). His stage act is largely devoid of any serious messages. As he says in his book, “My fans come out to laugh over nonsensical bullshit and have a good time. Comedians don’t have to make deep political points or talk over anyone’s head.”
But today people are looking to comedians to make political points. At the start of his shows, Larry is introduced as “The man who should be president of the United States.” It is a sentiment that is mirrored on many websites about another popular Comedy Central regular. Red state or blue, Larry The Cable Guy or Jon Stewart: Comedy is the new battleground for politics, and in these complicated times both our president and our Cable Guy are peddling simplicity.
Larry the Cable Guy performs at John Paul Jones Arena Thursday, November 16 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $42.75. 888-JPJ-TIXS.
We’re going to kick off this week’s column with an unusual bit of product placement. Although we rarely endorse anything outside of C-SPAN call-in shows, we would like to take this moment to declare the Broadway musical Hamilton the best piece of politically inspired stagecraft since
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