The Daily Gamecock

Commencement Issue: Ron White talks comedy: Q&A


Ron White is one of comedy’s straightest shooters, a scotch-soaked comic as wry as he is funny. You may know him as a charter member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, or as his criminal alias “Tater Salad.” Before his October 2014 show at the Township Auditorium, White talked with The Daily Gamecock about his favorite comedians, the most inappropriate place he’s been drunk and his advice to aspiring comedians.

TDG: Who are some of your favorite comedians working right now?

RW: Well, you know, I love Louis C.K. I think he’s really funny, I’ve never seen him live. And Dave Attell really makes me laugh hard. I like all of the New York comics, I don’t know if they like me or not, but I do. I like … what’s her name, the Jewish girl from New York?

TDG: Sarah Silverman?

RW: Sarah Silverman, yeah. I think she’s twisted in a nice way. I still enjoy (Jeff) Foxworthy’s work. I don’t get to see him very much, but I think he is just such a prolific writer of Southern comedy. Not just Southern comedy — middle class, blue collar comedy, which is very easily spread throughout the planet. I was always a big fan of Carlin, and I like Joan Rivers’ stuff, too. They’re not touring right now, but they’re coming on tour. They’re starting a tour next year. They’re touring together. Everything’s going to sell out.

TDG: Would you describe yourself as an especially Southern comedian?

RW: I don’t know. I guess because I’m Southern, but I mean I’m from a little big town in Northwest Texas of 700 people. I’m that for sure, so that makes me Southern, but I don’t think many of my jokes have a Southern connotation to them at all because they laugh at them just as hard in Maine. So, I think they’re just jokes. More than anything else, I’ve lived all over the place ... More than that, I’m just a comedy writer — it all comes through my eyes. So, if it’s Southern, it’s Southern. It certainly comes from that perspective, because, you know, that’s who I am.

TDG: What’s the weirdest encounter that you’ve had with a fan?

RW: A couple of years ago in Oxnard, this big guy in his underwear came staggering out from behind the curtains. He was back there with my crackerjack staff, and he just came walking out on the stage. I wasn’t facing that way, I was looking the other way, and they just started laughing — they thought it was part of the show, and I’m like, “What the f---? What I said wasn’t that funny!” And I turn around and look and there’s this big galoot coming at me in his underwear, and he was harmless. He had novelty underwear that had four legs or something that he could rotate around, or the s---stain moves … I don’t know what the f--- his deal was, but he did spend the night in jail. You really can’t f--- with me when I’m onstage without paying some sort of price.

TDG: What’s the most inappropriate place you’ve been drunk at?

RW: I dunno, I can’t think of any ... Church? No, that’s not that bad … a wedding? Nah, that’s expected. Couldn’t be a bar. I don’t know, probably drunk over at my in-laws’ house when everybody else is not nearly as drunk as me.

TDG: In your stand-up, you have a distinctly witty, sardonic delivery. How long did it take for you to develop that unique style?

RW: I think some of it you’re kind of born with, but it certainly evolves. That’s always been who I am and why I was funny to begin with, so it’s something that I think I’ve been for a long time. And I’ve also had really good timing with words for a long time, and I also used to listen to my uncle preach all the time. He was a brilliant man with an amazing command of the English language.

TDG: What would your advice be to a college student that wants to be a comedian?

RW: There’s only one thing that you have to do and that’s you have to be true to your nature. You have to be true to who you are, and not somebody else. That’s harder to do than it sounds, and that needs to be the goal because you are interesting — who you pretend to be is not interesting at all. And if you look for a common denominator in anyone who’s real successful in this business, that’s the only one. The only common denominator from all the big comics is that they were true to who they were, and they were all different. It doesn’t matter who you are, it just matters that you are who you are. And so whether it was Cosby or Pryor or Kinison or Hicks or Foxworthy, that’s who those guys are. So, your comedy needs to come from that perspective, no matter what.

Read the full version of this interview, published in 2014.