Tag Archives: Jeff Foxworthy

A Story That Made Jeff Foxworthy Cry

Jeff Foxworthy

Jeff Foxworthy keeps a crowded calendar of stage, TV and film work, but the Georgia-born Blue Collar Comedy funnyman still makes time for his church activities, including leading a Bible study in Atlanta for some 140 homeless men.  Last year, one of those men stopped Jeff cold with a story he’ll never forget.

The man’s name was Wayne, and he told of his mother leaving him a $70,000 inheritance, including a Bible into which she’d tucked a love note for him.  But Wayne was a crack cocaine addict.  He quickly blew through the money and as for the Bible, he lost track of it without even opening it.  Years went by.  About 100 miles from where the Bible disappeared, Wayne and another homeless man were cleaning an apartment for some cash when Wayne’s partner found a few items left behind.  Wayne rummaged through the pile — and found the very same Bible his mother had given him, with the note still tucked inside.  Wayne told the Bible study group that “if God loved me so much to chase me this far, I’m going to quit running.”

Foxworthy was so moved, he recalls, “I had to go sit against the wall and just cry for a minute.”  He tells us, “Wayne at that point could hardly take care of himself.”

That was last year, but in subsequent months, he became stronger and healther, and able to stay on as a helper at the facility, “taking care of 40 guys.”

Meanwhile, Jeff’s teenaged daughter recently passed the $1 million mark in raising funds for her anti-malaria drive and he’s thrilled and proud.

What a family.

Despite Myriad Projects, Stand-Up 1st for Jeff Foxworthy

Jeff Foxworthy photo by Brian Bowen Smith/Fox

Jeff Foxworthy has a full dance card of TV and movie gigs of late — not only as a recurring investor on “Shark Tank” and as host of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” but with his role in the big screen sports comedy “Crackerjack,” and his voice work in the forthcoming “Smurfs” movie.  But don’t get the idea he’s aiming to veer away from stand-up comedy.

“Oh, my God — I wouldn’t ever want to do that,” says the nice guy funnyman, who is currently on the road with Blue Collar Comedy cohorts Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy.

“Twenty seven years into doing comedy, we’re filling up arenas and I’m having as much fun as I’ve ever had.  I’ve always said that laughter is like the relief valve that keeps the boiler from exploding.  In a big room, it’s infectious.  If, for a couple of hours, we can make people not worry about stuff and have a shared experience, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

According to Jeff, his “Crackerjack” part as an announcer, widely-touted as his first live-action acting role, is a small one.  “I’m trying to help a couple of guys from my church out,” he says, by appearing in the movie and providing input.  “It’s kind of cool…I always have a heart for the underdog.”

As far as this summer’s “Smurfs” movie in which he’ll be heard along with a cast including Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Katy Perry, Allan Cumming, Hank Azaria, Jonathan Winters and George Lopez —  Foxworthy says, “I don’t know if my mustache will be blue or not.  They’re going to put a mustache on my character.”

Foxworthy is the first to admit he’s not the kind of guy who leaps to mind when “Shark Tank” entrepreneurs are discussed.  When he’s on the NBC show, “It makes me feel like the old ‘Sesame Street’ song: ‘One of these things is not like the others…'”

His involvement came about because Mark Burnett produces both “Shark Tank” and “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.”  One day, Burnett told him, “‘You know what you would be great on?  You should do ‘Shark Tank.’  I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Those guys are worth a billion dollars!'” he recounts.  But Burnett convinced Foxworthy he has the business savvy, and “It’s fun — something totally different for me.”

And he is very different for “Shark Tank.”  “On day one I came in and they said, ‘Now do your tough guy face,'” he tells us with a laugh.  “But I’m much more of a goldfish than a shark.  Seeing the contestants come in with their ideas takes me back 25 years, when I had the idea for a ‘Redneck’ book, but didn’t know how to advance it.  It’s a very sympathetic place for me.  I think, ‘Look over here.  I know you’re nervous.  I’ll make you relax.'”

Larry the Cable Guy Wants to Show Off Good Americans

Larry the Cable Guy History Channel photo

Larry the Cable Guy understands that he isn’t an obvious fit for his latest television home.  In fact, declares the Blue Collar Comedy stalwart, “When I tell people I’m going to be on The History Channel, it’s like Charlie Sheen saying he’s doing commercials for eHarmony.com.”

Well, it’s not THAT bad a fit.  Larry’s “Only in America,” debuting Feb. 8, has him traversing the nation, lending his comedic presence to an exploration of the history behind assorted Americana.  (E.g.: What government action led to NASCAR?  Prohibition.)  Along the way, he found himself jumping a frog in Calaveras Country, being pulled behind a boat in a lawn chair mounted on water skis, and being rolled around inside a barrel by a bull in a rodeo ring.

Larry tells us he wanted to do more than discover the history behind some of our all-American stuff and nonsense, however.  He recounts that when he met with History Channel brass about the prospective show, he told them, “I want to show the people themselves — the good Americans out there.”  In his act, he talks about feeling great since he quit watching the news, which “only covers the bad aspects of daily life.  It makes you think kids are all bad, people are all bad.  The great majority of Americans are just trying to get along, working together, eating together — red, black, yellow, green, it doesn’t matter.  We’re a melting pot.  That’s what makes this such a great culture.  So that’s what I did, showed as many people as I could in big towns and small towns.”

Not to mention the USS Nimitz and the Marines doing a storm-the-beach exercise.  “It was really cool.  When you think of all these people who are doing things like that, who are in charge of keeping us safe — they’re all 18, 19 years old and they’re so good at what they do and so disciplined.  It restores your faith in youth to see these young men and women.”

MEANWHILE:  Larry is in the middle of a long string of concert dates with cohorts Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall.  And he has Pixar’s “Cars 2” coming out this June, with his popular rusty tow truck, Mater, in a much-expanded role from the first movie.

“It is a big part for him.  ‘Cars 2′ is an action movie — a 180 degree turnaround from the other one,” says the man whose children refer to the character as Daddy Mater.  “I just saw a three-minute clip the other day and it had four or five good belly laughs in it.  I just couldn’t stop laughing.  It’s really cool that Mater is the focal point.”

As for his feelings about this great run of work?  “I’ve got mixed feelings about it,” he admits.  “I love doing it all these projects, but on the other hand, I wish I had a week at home now and then to hang with the kids.  And while I’m on the road, I do get tired.”

But there’s no rest stop in sight for ol’ Mater.

“Tomorrow I have voiceovers to do, the next day promotions.  The day after Super Bowl Sunday, I head to Orlando, Florida to start shooting ‘Tooth Fairy 2.’  At least I’ll be in one spot for awhile.”

Jeff Foxworthy Part of Effort to End Negative Stereotypes of Teens

Jeff Foxworthy Fox photo

Jeff Foxworthy Fox photo

Jeff Foxworthy thinks it’s time to stop negative stereotyping of teens.  The comic and “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader” host wants to get the word out about 7 Days Across America, an effort to showcase the good deeds of today’s youth, with a team meeting such teens beginning tomorrow (9/5) in San Diego, winding up Sept. 12 in New York.  They’re visiting 14 cities in all.

“I just thought it was a cool idea,” says Jeff of the program that includes awarding of a $5,000 scholarship (see www.7Daysacrossamerica.com for details).   He notes that according to research by the not-for-profit Encouragement Foundation, which is spearheading the effort, “about 71 per cent of the press about teens is negative.  They just said, ‘There’s a lot of great kids out there, and maybe just by bringing some of these good stories to light, it will encourage other kids to say, ‘I can do that.’”

For Jeff, it’s personal.  Two of the teenagers he considers great happen to be his daughters, Jordan and Julianne.  “They’re good kids, and they run with good kids – good friends.  But that’s not what gets attention,” he says.

Jeff took Jordan to Africa when she was 14 as part of a church charity trek.  She came back determined to do something to fight malaria, which kills more children in Africa than HIV/AIDS, and teamed with Compassion International to develop the Bite Back campaign.  Since then, the 17-year-old has been back to Africa three times — and raised a half million dollars.

Younger daughter Julianne “has been making us laugh since she was two.  She’s just naturally funny.  And she’s a really good writer.”

As for himself, “It’s been a busy summer,” Jeff understates.  He taped 170 episodes of “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader” – both the upcoming new daily syndicated version, and the prime time show that starts its new season on Fox Sept. 21.  Then he jumped into a string of standup comedy gigs all over the country.

“Speaking of encouragement, that’s one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about the show,” adds Foxworthy, “that I’ve seen in my mail letters from teachers saying, ‘You’ve made it cool for kids to be smart again.’  Wow, not only are we hopefully a little entertaining, but we’re encouraging and positive as well.”