While it may seem like an oxymoron, comedian Jeff Foxworthy is a redneck renaissance man.
His career has included TV series and specials, films, calendars, a line of greeting cards and commercial endorsements. He also stars in and produces the WB series “Blue Collar TV.”
Foxworthy has written 13 books and has a deal for another, “The Redneck Dictionary,” due this fall. He is a multiple Grammy Award nominee for his comedy albums, 12 of which have appeared on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
On top of all of that, for the last six years he has had a side job as host of Premiere Radio Networks’ three-hour weekly show “The Jeff Foxworthy Countdown.” Last month he celebrated his 300th show, which airs on more than 220 country stations nationwide.
Even before he got his own show, Foxworthy spent a decade working in the medium as a regular morning guest.
“I remember living in L.A. and I’d get up at 4 a.m., which would be 7 a.m. East Coast drive time, and just work myself across the time zones,” he says. “I would sit up there for two or three hours and just do 12 to 15 radio shows a morning. We had a little studio apartment in L.A., and there was nowhere to go. I remember climbing out of bed at five minutes ’til four and sitting over in the corner with the phone trying to get the sleepy out of my voice ... I’d look over at my wife, and she’d just be holding the pillow over her ears.”
It’s hard enough to be funny on the radio, but being funny at four in the morning 12 times in a row is particularly challenging. That’s especially true, Foxworthy says, “if you’ve been to bed. There’s people that think they’re funny at four in the morning, but most of them haven’t been to bed and none of them are sober.”
He is happy to be hosting a show in the country format, saying it is one that “comics in general and me in particular mix real well with. I grew up a rock ’n’ roller. I like the song ‘Layla’ and I’ve heard it 10,000 times, but I don’t really know what it’s about. Whereas if you like a country song, you know what it’s about.”
Foxworthy says radio has “a different intimacy” than TV, but he really enjoys the medium. “I still love the fact that all you’ve got is your words. You can’t cross your eyes. You can’t put on a funny hat. You just have your voice, and you have to make ’em laugh.”
When Foxworthy put out his most recent album, last year’s “Have Your Loved Ones Spayed or Neutered,” he announced that it would be his last.
“Golly, enough is enough, isn’t it? You think people are going to puke if they see another one,” he says. “I didn’t mean from that that I would quit doing stand-up. We just agreed to do a third (stand-up-based) ’Blue Collar’ movie. But at this point in my life I can’t imagine” doing another album.
“I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve gotten to do a ton of different things in my career,” he adds. “I can say I’ve never, ever been bored.”