Larry the Cable Guy has been bringing his brand of blue-collar comedy to countless fans for several years now. In the travel reality series “Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy,” he goes to various places in the United States to meet and mingle with the local people and experience their cultures. The third season of “Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy” premieres on History at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT on May 8, 2013. Larry the Cable Guy is one of the show’s executive producers.
In Season 3 of the show, Larry the Cable Guy (whose real name is Daniel Lawrence Whitney) has adventures that include “celebrating the modern-day ‘black gold rush’ in Williston, N.D.; delving into our country’s celebrity obsession by banding up with the paparazzi in ‘Hollyweird,’ in California; and scouring the Florida wilderness for poisonous snakes to bring to the ‘Serpentarium,’ where he’ll help extract their venom for medicinal uses,” according to a History press release. I recently talked with Larry the Cable Guy by phone for this exclusive interview.
How long did it take you to film the third season “Only in America”?
We did 16 episodes this year, and we knocked them out. The second year, we only filmed where I had a show. So if I had a show in a Friday night, I would fly in on a Wednesday night, we’d film on Thursday, and film on Friday. And then we’d be done. So it would take three days for one show. And it took forever! And we only did 13 episodes [for Season 2].
This time, we did 16. And I went, “If we film like that, we’re going to film for a year-and-a-half!” So I said, “Let’s take 16 weeks and knock it out.” And that’s what we did: 16 straight weeks.
Being away from your family for that long period of time must have been hard. Did they get to visit you at all?
No, they didn’t. I was only home from Aug. 4 to Dec. 23 [in 2012].
In the episode “Larry Herds Dinosaurs,” you talk about how you have a big fear of spiders, yet you dealt with several tarantulas in that episode. Was that the most scared you’ve ever been in filming an episode of “Only in America”?
I will say I was freaked out. I’m not a fan of spiders at all. I did overcome my fears, because putting that tarantula on my face reminded me of “The Brady Bunch.” If Peter Brady can lie in bed and let a tarantula crawl up, then I can do it too.
The only other time that I was freaked out was when we were in Colorado Springs, and a guy took in big cats. And I had to go in and clean the pen of the lion. And that lion was vicious! My cameraman who came from a show called “Extreme Logging,” he was a great cameraman. He used to hang from helicopters but he was freaked-out about going into this cage.
And we went into this cage, and that [lion owner] was 63 years old with two broken ribs. I asked him, “Are we going to be OK?” And he said, “As long as I’ve got this chair, he ain’t going to come at you.”
And I’m thinking, “Life and death depends on this guy with two broken ribs. He’s 63 with a folding chair.” So that one freaked me out.
The other one that freaked me out was when we went to get clams and oysters when the tide went out. We were stuck in the mud. That sucked.
What’s gotten easier or harder about doing “Only in America”?
I wouldn’t say it’s gotten harder or easier. I think the hardest part of the show now is you want to make sure that you get somebody good to play off of because I don’t script anything, but I think in this third season, we scripted one thing. We went into this pecan shop. We found out that this guy with a pecan farm had an interesting story. He had a sign that said “Free Samples.”
So we set up a thing where I said, “Look, act like you’re getting pissed off because we’re going to start eating everything because it says ‘free samples.’” That’s the only thing I’ve set up in the entire three seasons of the show. But the show is completely spontaneous.
I think the hardest part is when you go somewhere and there’s somebody who really has no personality at all, and you’re asking questions, and trying to get responses, and you’re trying to be funny. And when there’s really nothing funny about the situation, the hardest part is trying to make that situation funny.
What’s surprised you the most I since you’ve been doing “Only in America”?
All the people I met. I’m surprised, and so is my director, that everywhere I go, I have a really good fan base and people know me, and they’re really nice to me, and they want to be a part of what I’m doing.
I did an interview on KTLA, and I said, “The cool thing about this show is it breaks down a lot of walls of misconception of how I am.” I do my show with a Southern accent, and there’s a certain stereotype of people like me. But I get along with everybody, and everybody seems to enjoy what I do.
The cool thing about the show is that I’m showing all different cultures in America that make the country great. And I think probably one of the coolest things was when I went to play basketball at Rucker Park in Harlem. First of all, who would think that Larry the Cable Guy would go to Harlem to play basketball?
And I was received like a rock star. It was amazing! There were people everywhere. There were guys walking by yelling, “Git ‘r done!” They stopped and watched and wanted to play basketball with me. And you know what? I had a great time.
That’s one of my favorite memories. Playing in Rucker Park, which is such an iconic basketball court in Harlem. And I got to play a pick-up game, and I made a three-point shot, so I was excited about that. So it was really cool. And they were fans!
They were quoting some of my jokes and telling me what their favorite movie was. So that’s the really cool thing about what really surprises me, because it shows what a really cool fan base I have. And it shows that it really breaks down stereotypes.
What other places would you like to go to for “Only in America” that you haven’t been to yet?
In the three-year life span, we’ve been to 142 cities so far. We’ve been to Alaska. My crew wants to do a whole show in Hawaii. If I could think of where we could go but haven’t been, I really couldn’t tell you. I’ve just left it up to [the show’s producers]. I’ve hit a pretty wide spectrum and I’ve had fun.
One of the things that people seem to like about “Only in America” is that you make jokes about what you’re doing in these different cultures, but you do it in a way that’s not too offensive. How do you strike that balance?
I’m so glad that you said that. When we were with the Amish — well, I don’t really get the Amish. I don’t get the different sects. I don’t get why this Amish family can have a tractor with wheels, and that Amish family can’t.
But you know what? They’re in America, they’re free to be Amish, and God bless them! More power to them. They’re not affecting me. So I wanted to put a good spin on it.
We definitely make jokes, but not offensive to them and what they do, because what they hold that dear to them. I really try hard to make sure that I’m not making fun of them, but I’m making fun of me and doing jokes.
Has anything you experienced in “Only in America” affected your stand-up comedy routine? Have you met anyone through the show who maybe inspired some of your jokes in your stand-up act?
No, because my stand-up is goofy, one-liner-type stand-up. Even before I did stand-up, I’ve always been the kind of guy — and I talk about it on stage — who says I like people and I always look for the good in people. I say, “Every person has something good about them, if you can just find it.”
And so I’ve never judged anybody by how they look or how they dress. I basically judge them on their character. And that’s how I lead my own life. In my act, I do some jokes that might step over the line a little bit, but [“Only in America”] hasn’t change the way I do my stand-up act.
The thing that’s changed the way I do my stand-up act is having kids and getting older and wiser and smarter. There might be a joke or two in the past that I wish I hadn’t done, but in the past, you can’t have it back. And in the past, I wasn’t married and I didn’t have kids and I didn’t give a sh*t. But now that I have kids and a family, there are certain things that I did that I probably would not do again because I’m smarter and know more about life.
What was it like filming “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas”?
Tyler Perry is awesome. He’s a super-good guy. He’s done all of this himself. That’s why I really admire a guy. In fact, the first thing he said to me was, “You and I are kind of alike. Nobody got blue collar in the beginning. And nobody got me in the beginning. And we kind of did it ourselves.”
He said, “There’s nothing funnier than Madea and Larry the Cable Guy hanging out together.” I play a different character, but he likes my Larry the Cable Guy [persona]. I play a guy with another name, but I basically play it as Larry the Cable Guy.
Have you heard anything about Pixar making “Cars 3”?
I wish I had. I have no idea. All I know it’s a great movie series and it’s good enough that they started their own theme park [at Disneyland]. I’m just happy to be a part of whatever they want to do, but I have heard no rumblings whatsoever. If they do, I’m excited. If they don’t, I’m happy for what we got.
I never thought in a million years that I’d do a Pixar movie, let alone two of them and that I’d be top billing in one of them. That’s up to [Pixar/Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer] John Lasseter. I know that John does not make movies unless he really believes in the movie and it’s going to be a really good script. I know that “Cars” is his baby though.
For more info: “Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy”
RELATED LINKS ON usedview.com:
Interview with Larry the Cable Guy for “Cars 2”
Interview with Larry the Cable Guy and Emily Mortimer for “Cars 2”