Fade to White
Blue-collar comedy bad-boy Ron White totes scotch and surprising sensitivity to Salinas.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Those who know comic Ron White only by his irreverent venting, incredulous cussing and insistent scotch and cigar smoke might be surprised to discover his sensitive side.
“I have feelings too,” he tweeted the other day. “Mostly gas pains, but still. Sometimes I hurt inside.”
In all seriousness, though, how many celebrities of his stature log extensive appearances and charity work in support of American troops at places like Walter Reed National Army Medical Center – let alone with the informed awareness he does?
“Young soldiers are blown to pieces,” the former Navy sailor says. “It’s gonna be America’s burden, so my main charity thrust is to support the needs of those men and women. This country’s at war, and whether you agree or not, soldiers are coming back hurt. And they aren’t going to get better.”
In April, when a principal in Columbus, Ga., was fired for showing a clip of White’s acclaimed You Can’t Fix Stupid stand-up DVD as a creative way to inspire his staff, he went on CNN, organized rallies and generally rabble-roused his way to winning Dr. Marvin Crumbs his job back.
“It’s rare to find that kind of stupidity, even in America,” White says. “I don’t believe there’s a surplus of smart people dedicating their lives to improving our kids. They were looking for a reason to fire him. They charged him with sexual misconduct, because I was saying, ‘Breast’ [in the bit]. That could destroy him for life.
“You can’t fix stupid,” he adds later. “[The school district] somehow magically made my point for me.”
After abandoning comedy out of frustration with slave-driving club owners and moving to Mexico with some savings – and zero Spanish – White opened a pottery factory. When he left to join the Blue Collar Comedy Tour that put him on the comedic map, he gave the company to the employees.
“Still in business today,” he says.
So there is genuine sensitivity there. And genuineness, it turns out, is precisely what White believes makes him the best possible comic. He’s probably right.
“For me there’s really only one rule: Be true to your nature,” he says. “Look at the common denominator between comics that made it big – Pryor, Cosby, Kinison, Foxworthy – they were true to who they were. Try to be someone other than who you are, it doesn’t work. The closer I got to who I really am, the more fans responded to it. The Ron White on stage is the Ron White off.”
He loves being on stage so much that he says the only thing left on his bucket list is to keep finding his way to it. His tour schedule – an unequaled 141 cities last year – certainly reflects that.
“I want to continue to do standup comedy as long as people want to listen,” he says. “It was never a means to an end, just what I always wanted to do. There’s nothing people can give me to stop doing that. It’s too fun.”
In other words, being on stage with his trademark scotch and cigar, with the crowd going bonkers, feels like a holiday for White – “I would never think of a world where that doesn’t happen,” he says – and White knows how to celebrate holidays.
“In honor of Bastille Day,” he tweeted recently, “I’m eating French fries and not shaving my pits. Guess when you think about it, every day is Bastille Day for me.”
This summer he further commented on holidays: “We have Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, so how come there’s no ‘Who’s that Strange Man Eating Breakfast With Us’ Day?”
His favorite holiday of them all, though: April 27, 2009, designated “Ron White Day” in the state of Texas by Texas legislative officials.
“I asked them, ‘Have you guys looked at my arrest record?’” White says.
When he appeared before the legislature on that fateful 2009 day – in a coat and tie, with his mother, wife and mother-in-law there, no less – he led with this: “I can’t believe they made you work on Ron White Day.”
The name of Ron White’s current tour, Moral Compass, seems appropriate, because he’s no stranger to providing sound advice for navigating tricky ethical territory.
Take his thoughts on personal communication: “When talking to women, choose your words wisely. ‘I was just thinking of you’ sounds a lot better than ‘I was just masturbating to you.’”
Or those on personal hygiene: It’s important to be well-groomed. Manicured fingernails tell the world, ‘I am ready to finger bang.’”
“Yeah,” he says, “My moral compass is slightly off kilter. It’s got a lot of… leeway. Some people have small leeway. I have more fun.”
RON WHITE and the opening acts start 7pm Saturday, July 27, at Fox Theater Salinas, 241 South Main St., Salinas. $182.50/VIP; $75/golden circle; $45/reserved. 1-888-825-5484, www.foxtheatersalinas.com
Ron White claims that he doesn’t remember many of his bits from a few years back – or his tweets from a week ago. “My material comes and goes,” he says. “I do it, publish it, and forget about.”
But many are worth remembering however briefly. Here are some of his best recent tweets, sprinkled with outtakes from his interview with the Weekly.
•“I wish I had a Breathalyzer on my iPhone.”
• “Hybrid cars are for people who give half a f***.”
• “I was texting my wife one night – all this filthy stuff. She said, ‘Honey you’re not on text, you’re on Twitter.’”
•“When I have better credit than America, that’s one of the signs of the apocalypse.”
•“My wife’s a vegetarian. She says she is, but eats fish, and fish isn’t a vegetable. Anyway, [the diet] is relatively unhealthy. Sometimes you need a big slab of red meat.”
•“They say if you eat salad every day, you can extend your life 15 years. Great. 15 more years of eating fucking salad!”
•“Just once I’d like to tell a mime to shut the fuck up.”
•“Great bumper sticker: Bulimics do it after every meal.”
•“Playboy now makes an energy drink. I don’t drink it. I just get it to read the label.”
•“I just went to http://factcheck.org and typed in http://factcheck.org. Turns out they’re bogus.”
•“I suspect that whatever competition gave Pabst beer their Blue Ribbon was seriously rigged.”
•“Masturbating is exorcising the demons from your balls. That’s why I insist a priest be present.”
•“People assume heavy set folks know all the best restaurants. I didn’t get fat from being a picky eater; I got fat from eating EVERYTHING.”
•“It is my understanding that everybody else is wrong.”
•“If you watch porn on your smart phone, you’ve either got great eyesight or unlimited minutes.”
•“Candidates are sure to ask, ‘Are you better off today than you were four years ago?’ That would be a valid question if I could remember.”
•“My weed is so good I can watch television without turning it on.”