The Blue Collar Comedy Troupe traces its roots in 2000 when Jeff Foxworthy, riding a wave of the popularity he enjoyed during the period, conceptualized and founded the organization with noted comedians Ron White, Larry the cable Guy, and Bill Engvall to commercial success during the 2000s. This partnership went on for 6 years in a grand tour of America, and saw its popularity produce a TV series in their name, a movie, and even an internet radio station that featured their comedic skills.
Now that’s undoubted success for all 4 members. But what made them so interesting to follow? It was all about the humor.
Four different comedians coming from roughly the same background each with his own style and nuances made for compelling television – even if only to see how their very different deliveries and timing worked together as a cohesive whole, regardless of the “blue collar” theme.
And that’s what we’re going to explore – the themes and the individual qualities of each performer and how it relates to the group as a whole.
1. Larry The Cable Guy: Getting It Done
Larry the Cable Guy’s take on humor as an everyman is what made his meal ticket in the first place. Whether you take his persona as it is or whether you believe his exploits when he talks about them on stage is up to you, but his style is undoubtable – using his trademark catchphrases, he seeks to make light of very mundane things such as bodily fluids and noises into a super redneck persona that is, compared to the other members of the troupe, rather learned than being natural, and rather self-parodying, but it works. Larry Whitney (the guy behind the persona) is a guy that simply acts over-the-top redneckish just to get a reaction, despite arguably being the most non-“blue collar” of all the members in the group. His cynical take on middle America may be too brash and uncouth for some, but you can’t argue with the results he gets from playing the part. It’s hard to take seriously, but I don’t think it’s meant to be either.
2. Jeff Foxworthy: The Redneck Judge
Well, well, well…what is there with Jeff Foxworthy’s stylings than what we already know? As the undoubtedly most recognizable name and face in the group, Foxworthy uses his almost encyclopedic knowledge of middle, white and southern America to make critiques and jokes on how different things can be from north to south. Despite his penchant for, yet again, bathroom humor, Foxworthy is a guy who’s actually walked in the shoes of being a middle-class white Southern American for his critiques to be taken seriously – and contrasting it with the typical lowbrow humor that never fails to please most audiences all over the country.
3. Bill Engvall: The Man With The Signs
“Here’s your sign…” is just as resonant as “You might be a redneck if…”, and we’ve got Bill Engvall to thank for. Engvall’s clean, good-natured humor is a breath of fresh air from, say, Larry the Cable Guy – but don’t mistake his cleanliness for being a prude, because he has a lot of curveballs up his sleeve that would make Eddie Murphy blush. And yes, it is possible for you to be humorous and say whatever you want on stage, for as long as you do it in a clean way. A salute to this man of character and dignity on stage – he is the eye of the storm that is the Blue Collar Comedy Troupe.
4. Ron White: The Badass
Now we get to the substantial part of the troupe – Ron White’s act has evolved from the lowbrow and catchphrase ridden stylings of Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy, coming across as a much edgier version of George Carlin or even channeling Bill Hicks especially with his later work and his cigarettes and scotch on stage. His style is such a big difference to the time tested Southern styles of his other colleagues Larry and Foxworthy, so it is no small wonder that he would leave the group to forge his own path with no reservations or no restrictions. He is undoubtedly the star of the show – at least for this writer.