Occasional Florida resident Larry the Cable Guy wraps up History's Only in America tonight
There is just one man who could get the History channel to air a series featuring a guy asking NASA about how astronauts drink water made from their own urine.
Ladies and gentlemen: Meet Larry the Cable Guy.
More specifically, meet star standup comic Daniel Lawrence Whitney’s latest showcase for his beer swilling, truck loving, hat wearing good ol’ boy character -- a part travelogue, part stunt show cavalcade called Only in America.
Since the show’s blockbuster debut in February, Larry has made Limburger cheese in Wisconsin, lived on a sauerkraut farm in Amish country and shook his poms poms with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. And as befits a star who once had a 20-acre spread in Sanford, he’s made lots of stops in the Sunshine State: from joining the Volusia County Sheriff’s department to chasing feral pigs in Orlando, mud bogging in New Smyrna Beach and visiting a gator farm in Christmas, Fla.
After a debut that drew 4.1-million viewers, History has already picked up the show for a second season. But the first cycle wraps up a 9 tonight with Larry visiting the history of the pig in America, a bullfighting barrel ride in Houston and Central Park in New York City.
Whitney has lived in Florida since 1994, when his father moved to West Palm Beach for work. In 2001, he bought that spread in Sanford, which he put on the market last year for $1.55-million. But for a guy who performs 300 shows a year, the road is mostly his home -- which is why filming a TV show about travel was about the most natural thing in the world,
“I enjoyed the challenge of trying to make thing funny,” said Whitney, a Nebraska native who has no Southern accent offstage. “when they say, ‘next week wer’e gonna go on the docks with the longshoremen – lots of entertainment there! Who doesn’t like a good container joke? But it gave me a chance to be myself and give people a chance to see the guy behind the character, you know?”
Do you worry that fans may be put off when they see you without the accent?
I’m not far off from the character. I grew up on a pig farm. I wanted to be a cattle auctioneer. It’s not like I grew up in an apartment in New York…I just don’t have a full-on Southern accent. I acquired that when I moved to Florida and, I mean, I can go in and out of it because that’s how all my friends are. That’s who I hang out with. That’s who I’ve been around ever since I was 15 years old when I moved to Florida. You know, Florida crackers. And so I think the majority of the people know that.”
Was there ever a moment when the character didn’t fit the show?
“Well, there was a guy in Houston, Texas, and he was from Israel and all he wanted to be was an American ‘cause he loved America and the culture. And his wife was from Mexico and that’s all she ever wanted to be was an American. And then they started telling this story about how they met and he’s starting to cry. And so, the thing that I didn’t want to do is go, all right, pull my finger, you know what I mean? (laughter)
For sure. Did you find out anything special you didn’t already know about America?
“When you watch TV and you watch the news, you don’t see a lot of people being proud of where they’re from anymore. You don’t see a lot of pride in the country. But then when I go out and I travel, I don’t see any of that. When I travel, I see a lot of good of the country, and that’s the cool thing about this show. I saw people living the American Dream. The basic theme of the show was, you know, these things (started) because they were allowed to do it in this country and not any other. And the theme was if they work hard, if they work hard at it, they can accomplish anything
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done so far?
Well, I went to the Legends show in Las Vegas and I impersonated myself (laughter). I gave myself a fake name. I took the name, Leonard Blush from the Andy Griffith Show, and they say, ‘Here’s Leonard Blush, as Larry the Cable Guy.’ And I went out and I did some of my jokes, and it was a tough crowd and I’m kinda tanking…At the end they asked who looked more like the character they were portraying and they said, Elvis. (laughter)
So did they ever learn that it was you?
No, they never told anybody.