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.'”