When looking back upon his entry into comedy, Ron White can remember the moment when it dawned on him that he was officially a comedian.
“Someone built a comedy club between where I lived and worked. I passed that place every day,” White recalls, noting he was selling windows at the time.
“One of my co-workers came in and assured me I was funnier than any of the people he saw on stage at the club, but you know, I had never given it much thought. I was a good salesman, but the first time I went on stage, something clicked and I realized what I wanted to do with my life.”
In the earliest days of his career, White says having the opportunity to see the country and be on stage far outweighed the “bad money” he was bringing home.
As a storyteller with an edge, White regaled audiences with stories of growing up in a small town in the middle of Texas oil country. For two decades, he relentlessly toured the U.S., paying his dues 10 times over.
As he ascended the comedy ranks and began being able to headline theatres throughout the U.S., he walked away from the profession.
“I got frustrated by various aspects of the business, so I moved to Mexico and opened a small pottery factory,” White says matter-of-factly.
Although he was seemingly content to have left comedy behind, it wasn’t long before White’s friend and comedian Jeff Foxworthy asked the comedian to open some dates for him in the U.S.
Not long after, White was asked if he wanted to join what became one of the biggest comedy tours of all time, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, alongside Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry The Cable Guy.
“I loved Mexico, but was told if I wanted to do the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, I needed to move back to the States. They complained I was too hard to reach in Mexico,” he quips.
Though he couldn’t have known it at the time, White’s decision to join the tour at the turn of the century proved to be a life-changing decision. The comic went from being semi-retired to suddenly playing before sold-out houses in more than 90 cities throughout North America, grossing more than $15 million.
“I have no idea where I would be without that tour. For a lot of comedians, television makes them famous, but if they were popular before they got big on television, they don’t necessarily end up being a lot more popular. They sustain their fans, but don’t really see the same leap in popularity that those outside of television do. With Blue Collar, it put me in a completely different realm.”
Looking at White’s track record since having first joined the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, it’s tough to argue with his logic: In addition to selling more than ten million albums and DVDs, White has earned two Grammy Award nominations, and a New York Times best-selling book, while also boasting three of the top rated one-hour television specials in the history of Comedy Central.
Additionally, over the past five years, White has been one of the top three grossing comedians touring the United States. That popularity has afforded the comedian the opportunity to land feature roles in films including Horrible Bosses as well as Sen and the City 2.
One of White’s latest off-stage projects has been Showtime’s Roadies. Created by acclaimed director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Singles), the comedian shares the role has been invigorating to pursue.
“The show is focused on all of the back-of-house people crazy enough to give up their lives to make concert tours happen. I play one of the road managers on the show, a deeply flawed person that loves his crew and knows how to overcome adversity,” White says.
“There is no one better than Cameron Crowe to tell the story, because the show is very much an extension of Almost Famous. I fell in love with the script almost immediately; the well of material on the show is truly great.”
What: Ron White
When: Friday July 29, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Limited tickets remain as of press time. For ticket information, call 1-866-943-8849 or visit casinonb.ca