LOS ANGELES — The deer’s ears twitch as “detective” Jeff Foxworthy tries to interrogate the animal.
“You’ve got 3 seconds to come clean or ...” Foxworthy tells the uncooperative creature.
The door of the interview room flies open and a woman in a dark suit enters. “I’m the deer’s attorney,” she announces, cautioning her client, “Don’t say anything, deer.”
Welcome to “CSI: Idaho,” one of many skits scattered throughout the WB’s “Blue Collar TV,” which premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.
Famous for his “Redneck” jokes, books and records, Foxworthy will be joined on the show by comic pals Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy, who worked with him on “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour” road show and movie. Other players include comedians Brooke Dillman, Ashley Drane and Ayda Field.
The body of the show is taped in front of a live audience at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, near where Foxworthy lives with his wife and two daughters. But sketches that include animals, special effects, and outdoor locations are shot in Los Angeles.
In the first episode, Foxworthy explains to his live audience, “We are not here to change the world, we are here to make it a little more bearable.”
Echoing that thought is co-executive producer Adam Small.
“Usually when you do a sketch show you are trying to be as edgy, as in-your-face as you possibly can get. But working with Jeff it’s just about being funny,” said Small as he watched the “CSI: Idaho” skit take shape on a Hollywood soundstage.
‘Old redneck from Georgia’
Foxworthy, 45, says he never minded when people outside the South dubbed him “nothing but an old redneck from Georgia.”
“’Yeah, you’re right, that’s what I am,”’ he’d say. “But I started discovering that this wasn’t something unique to the South. It wasn’t unique to me. If you went 15 or 20 minutes outside of any city, the scenery was different, the accents were different, but the people were the same. They lived in the same kind of houses, did the same kind of things. These are people I identify with. This is my crowd. I never went for the cutting-edge stuff, or trying to be too hip.”
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Small and co-exec Fax Bahr previously worked together on both “In Living Color” and “MADtv,” so they know something about extremely silly characters.
Like Weeble Kneeble, the limbless daredevil.
Foxworthy sheds his detective gear and, barely pausing for breath, dons Kneeble’s crash helmet and stars-and-stripes cape. His arms wrapped out of sight, he balances precariously on a crane platform in front of a wind machine and is whirled aloft against a green screen backdrop that will later be electronically filled with scenery.
He screams, in character, “Whaaaaaaaaa? I did not OK this!”
That ordeal over with, he goes straight to the makeup room where he’s fitted with a gray wig and bushy eyebrows and painted with age lines.
That’s the look for L. Roy Tippett, the most prolific songwriter in history, the next silly character on the day’s call sheet.
“His songs are not good songs. They are not hit songs. He’s just written more songs than anyone else. They are like, ’Well, I was sitting here getting a wig on, doing an interview, and I was thinking I should have eaten lunch, but I didn’t have time ...”’ Foxworthy croons, grinning.
Then for a few moments he has time to be himself and talk in his normal, sweet-natured drawl.
“This is a ball for me to get to put on a wig or different clothes and play different characters,” he says.
Definitely a change from the amiable family man he played on the NBC sitcom “The Jeff Foxworthy Show” from 1995-97, where essentially “it was just me.”
As a kid, Foxworthy “would save my allowance and buy Bill Cosby and Flip Wilson records.” Later he graduated to purchasing material by George Carlin and Richard Pryor. “I would memorize them like in a day and then I would go to school and do them, and get into trouble for doing them.”
He says the “coolest thing that ever happened to me on the road” was when he first played a theater in Atlanta.
“I got a note backstage from my high school principal that said, ’I can’t believe I’m shelling out money to hear the same kind of stuff I used to try to put a stop to!”’
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