Comedian keeps spotlight on what matters
It’s a Tuesday morning and comedian Jeff Foxworthy is running late. One of his duties as a parent of two has put him slightly behind schedule.
“We’re the family that does the power slide into the front of the school in the mornings,” he explains, providing a vivid image of his kids jumping out of the vehicle, tying shoelaces and combing hair in a last-minute rush to beat the bell.
It may not sound glamorous, but one of America’s most widely recognized funnymen wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He lives in Alpharetta, Ga. (pop. 34,854), where he drives a Ford truck, shops at Home Depot and gets to be involved in the daily goings-on of his family. He’s been happily married to wife Gregg for 22 years and has two daughters, ages 14 and 12.
From 1995 to 1997, Foxworthy starred in his own sitcom, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, filmed on a Hollywood soundstage next door to the shooting stages for Roseanne and Seinfeld. That period showed him the effects a Hollywood career can have on life.
“I was around some of the most wealthy people in the world—and some of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen,” he says. “It was a blessing. It was like God showing you, ‘This isn’t what it’s all about.’ As soon as they canceled the show, we moved back to Georgia.”
Foxworthy has parlayed his Southern roots into a 20-year career that shows no signs of slowing . He has stand-up tour dates lined up in comedy clubs and other venues throughout 2006, hosts a weekly country countdown radio show and is working on a third Blue Collar Comedy Tour movie.
He’s also planning to host the upcoming CMT Music Awards, which will air live April 10. He hosted the show in 2005 and it received record ratings for the network.
But even with one foot in the show-business fast lane, Foxworthy says he has purposely made his life as normal as it can be. “I got invited to host a dinner at the White House once, but I couldn’t go because it was the same night as my daughter’s play at school,” he says. “Twenty years from now, the president won’t remember if I came to the White House. But my daughter will remember if I wasn’t at her play.”
Foxworthy’s career evolved out of a friendly good-ol’-boy-next-door routine, which he admits was never much of a stretch for him. The “You might be a redneck” jokes that put him on the map came out of playing gigs in big, non-Southern cities where club owners would often tell him, “Foxworthy, you’re just an ol’ redneck from Georgia.”
On one such occasion, Foxworthy looked outside a window of the comedy club and saw a bowling alley next door—with a valet-parking stand. He laughs. “I said, ‘You don’t think you have rednecks here? Look out the window!’”
So he decided to jot down 10 ways to tell if you’re a redneck. That list blossomed into one of the most durable routines—and career tracks—in the business of professional comedy.
“That little yellow piece of paper,” he says with a smile, “is now framed in our kitchen.”