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Published: Sunday, 2/13/2005

Here we go again: 'Blue Collar' comedians stick with their formula for success

BY MIKE KELLY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Familiarity's the name of the game for, from left, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, and Ron White. Familiarity's the name of the game for, from left, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, and Ron White.
COMEDY CENTRAL Enlarge

If you think it's time to premiere yet another installment in the "Blue Collar" comedy franchise, you just might be Comedy Central.

That would explain why the all-comedy network is featuring a two-hour concert movie at 8 p.m. Sunday called Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again. As the title implies, this is a sequel to the hugely popular Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie.

Both films feature stage performances by country comic Jeff Foxworthy and three of his buddies: comedians Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy (real name Dan Whitney).

The four first teamed up in 2000 for a comedy road show called the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Its success led to the first concert film, which was shown in 2003 on Comedy Central. It drew more than 2 million viewers in its debut showing and nearly 3 million on another airing, making it the highest-rated movie ever to air on the channel. The DVD version of the movie sold more than 2 million units.

It also led to a sketch comedy TV show last year called Blue Collar TV, with Foxworthy, Engvall, and Larry as regulars. It continues to air at 9:30 p.m. Fridays on the WB network.

With the continuing success of Foxworthy and his posse, it's no surprise that Comedy Central would put together a sequel to the Blue Collar movie. In a reversal of the usual order of things, though, Rides Again was released on DVD last month and has already sold more than 2.5 million copies.

Comedy Central says the movie is more than just concert footage, but it's not much more. The network says viewers "will get a look at the guys just being themselves, hanging out on their tour bus." However, the scenes from the bus consist of a labored and obviously scripted routine involving use of the on-board lavatory, and the drawing of numbers from a hat to see which of the four comics has to perform last at the next gig.

Leading off the concert, which was taped in Denver, is Engvall, who seems too smooth in sport coat and jeans to be a good ol' boy comedian. His 20-minute set is mostly about male-female relationships, and it's not particularly biting or misogynistic.

Like most of the other comics featured in the film, Engvall has a popular catchphrase that he tosses out a few times during his routine: "Here's your sign."

Next is Ron White, who seems like the odd man out in this group, having more in common with the late Sam Kinison than with the rest of these guys. Heck, he hardly even has a drawl.

Dressed in a black suit and shirt and holding big cigar and a full glass of scotch, he's more cynical and raunchy than the others, standing there with a wicked grin as he fires off one-liners.

"My brother's a doctor, my sister's an attorney and I hate Thanksgiving."

Foxworthy is the ringleader of the group and the one with whom audiences are probably the most familiar. During his set, he tries a new riff on his familiar "You might be a redneck " routine. This time it's a series of one-liners ending with this tagline: " you're either gay or married."

Such as: "If you're a man and you're sleeping in a bed with dust ruffles and seven pillows you're either gay or married."

Finally, there's Larry the Cable Guy, who's almost a caricature of a southern fried yokel, with his camouflage baseball cap, too-small flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off, and a drawl so thick that it's sometimes hard to understand him.

He opens his set whooping out his own popular catchphrase, "Git-r-done!" He ends with it, too, and sprinkles it liberally in random spots in between.

He talks a lot about his bizarre family, such as his 370-pound aunt "who's a runway model out at the airport," and he pauses every so often to bow his head and ask for forgiveness for a crack he's just made.

"Is this the dumbest part of the show?" he asks at one point, and the crowd roars its delirious approval, signalling that his corn-pone approach is just fine by them.

The show winds up with the four comics sitting on stools together onstage, trading goofy lyrics to a nonsong called "I Believe," as Larry plunks out flat notes on a guitar.

Among them: (from Larry) "I believe that guns don't kill people; husbands that come home early kill people," and (from Ron White) "I believe if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka and have a party."

Contact Mike Kelly at: mkelly@theblade or 419-724-6131.



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