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 with Larry the Cable Guy.
Since the show's blockbuster debut in February, Larry has lived on a sauerkraut farm in Amish country and shook his pompoms with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.
And as befits a star who once lived on a 20-acre spread in Sanford, he's made lots of stops in the Sunshine State: from joining the Volusia County Sheriff's Office to chasing feral pigs in Orlando, mud bogging in New Smyrna Beach and visiting a gator farm in Christmas.
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 reviewing the history of the pig in America, a bullfighting barrel ride in Houston and Central Park in New York City.
"I enjoyed the challenge of trying to make things funny," said Whitney, 48, a Nebraska native who has no Southern accent offstage. "When they say, 'Next week we're gonna go on the docks with the longshoremen — lots of entertainment there! But it gave me a chance to be myself."
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. 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've been around ever since I was 15 years old when I moved to Florida. You know, Florida crackers.
Was there ever a moment when the character didn't fit the show?
Well, there was a guy in Houston, Texas, from Israel and all he wanted to be was an American. And his wife was from Mexico and that's all she ever wanted to be. 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 the news, you don't see a lot of pride in the country. But when I traveled, I saw people living the American Dream. The basic theme of the show was, you know, these businesses and things (started) because people were allowed to do this in our country and no other.
What's the weirdest thing you've done so far?
Well, I went to the Legends show in Las Vegas and impersonated myself (laughter). 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 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.