Symbolic Inversion: Git-R-Done!

by: Brian L. Ott / Colorado State University

Jeff Foxworthy

Jeff Foxworthy

I was channel surfing late one evening when I stumbled upon a rebroadcast of Comedy Central’s Roast of Jeff Foxworthy. Although I did not view this special when it originally aired (March 20, 2005) and there were less than 10 minutes remaining in the show on this particular occasion, I decided to stay tuned. About half way through the final roast, comedian Bill Engvall quipped, “You might be Jeff Foxworthy if … you’ve shot everything except a successful TV show.” The joke was a stab at the dismal and thankfully short-lived Jeff Foxworthy Show, which ran for only a season on ABC (1995) before being moved to NBC where it was cancelled in 1997. But as is often the case with humor, this joke was operating on more than one level. The reference to hunting reflected the “blue collar” content that has made Foxworthy famous and the joke’s form mirrored Foxworthy’s well-known punch line, “You might be a redneck if … [fill in a stereotypical working-class behavior].” In the face of such comedic genius, there was only one acceptable response. Laugh. So, I did.

Redneck Joke

You might be a redneck if…

With humor, timing is everything — not just rhetorical timing, but also social timing. In this regard, Engvall’s joke is rapidly becoming “not funny.” You see, if success is measured by what one’s done lately, then The Jeff Foxworthy Show is the exception, not the rule. Best-selling author and multiple-time Grammy nominee Jeff Foxworthy is now “the largest selling comedy-recording artist in history.”[1] His 2000 comedy concert, “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” with fellow comedians Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy sold out theaters coast to coast (grossing 15 million dollars), produced a best-selling live album, The Blue Collar Comedy Tour Live, and generated the highest rating of any feature film to premier on Comedy Central, Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie.[2] But perhaps nowhere is Foxworthy’s current success more evident than with his sketch comedy show, Blue Collar TV, on the WB. The show, which Foxworthy executive produces, premiered July 2004 and was the second most watched program during its 8:00 PM time slot, garnering 5.4 million viewers.[3] Simply stated, you might be Jeff Foxworthy if … you’ve become a multi-millionaire by cracking redneck jokes.

As a media critic, one could take up Blue Collar TV from a wide variety of perspectives. The TV show — an unapologetic recycling of much of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour — certainly lends itself to a political economic analysis of corporate ownership, cross-promotion, and media synergy. AOL Time Warner has successfully repackaged Foxworthy’s image and material in a wide array of products. Jeff has had his own HBO special (HBO Comedy Hour: Jeff Foxworthy: Totally Committed) and (surprise!) won TNN’s “Comedian of the Year” three years in a row. His Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie and corresponding soundtrack were produced by Warner Brothers, as were his comedy albums You Might Be a Redneck If…, Games Rednecks Play, and Have Your Loved Ones Spayed Or Neutered. The Roast of Jeff Foxworthy aired on Comedy Central, and Blue Collar TV was produced for the WB and re-airs on Comedy Central. HBO, TNN, Warner Brothers’ movies and records, the WB, and Comedy Central are, of course, all owned by AOL Time Warner. In other words, you might be a massive media conglomerate if … you own Jeff Foxworthy.

I would like to come at Blue Collar TV from another critical perspective, however — one that aims to understand the appeal of the show. Structurally, Blue Collar TV is a sketch comedy show similar in format to Chappelle’s Show (Comedy Central, 2003-present). It typically opens with a monologue by Foxworthy that is followed by a series of themed skits. Past themes range from family and television to bad jobs and marriage. Each episode also features a word being added to the “Redneck Dictionary.” Sample words from Season 1 include “fascinate” (Usage: “Clem ordered a light beer because he was getting too big for his shirt — it had nine buttons on it and he could only fascinate”) and “mayonnaise” (Usage: “Mayonnaise a lot of pretty women in the bar tonight”). This may be sufficient data for many TV enthusiasts to determine they are not fans. And believe me, Blue Collar TV has plenty of “not fans,” particularly among critics. In his review of the show for popmatters, Terry Sawyer comments, “When I watched Blue Collar TV, I couldn’t help but think of how homogenized images of ‘working class’ folks have become. Now, ‘blue collar’ means white, Southern, alcoholic redneck. Blue Collar TV is a comic blight, a bastion of jokes well beyond their expiration date culled from e-mail forwards sent by the least funny of your coworkers.”[4] I identify with Sawyer’s critique, as Blue Collar TV is decidedly sexist, classist, racist, and homophobic.

But that still does not explain its appeal. Why do so many people watch and enjoy the show? One possible answer is suggested by Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s discussion of “carnival” — a concept he borrows from the work of Rabelais. “Carnival is,” explains Ferguson, “a particular kind of humour, characterized by vulgarity and excess.”[5] In the Middle Ages, carnival was a time of celebration that involved the reversal or abandonment of “normal” and “polite” social codes. In privileging the macabre and the grotesque–particularly the grotesque body — carnival offered “temporary liberation for those whose lives were bleak and oppressive.”[6] By celebrating drunkenness, corpulence, sexual excess, and flatulence, Blue Collar TV offers a similar release for working class viewers. Symbolically, it inverts the codes of “refined” (read: wealthy) society. It gets right up in the face of elite culture and breaks wind … loud, stinky wind. That said, Blue Collar TV does its work through the voice of a multi-millionaire, who is “owned” by a transnational media conglomerate. To coin a phrase, you might be a postmodernist if … you appreciate the irony.

References
[1] Roast of Jeff Foxworthy
[2] Blue Collar Comedy Tour
[3] Roast of Jeff Foxworthy: Bios
[4] Blue Collar TV on Popmatters
[5] Ferguson, R. The media in question. New York: Arnold, 2004. p. 146.
[6] ibid. p. 147.

Image Credits:
1. Jeff Foxworthy
2. You might be a redneck if…

Links
Blue Collar TV homepage
Jeff Foxworthy homepage
Time Warner homepage

Please feel free to comment.

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17 comments

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  • Marnie Binfield

    Stupid White Men

    Foxworthy’s work seems to me to reflect a trend that I have also noticed in advertising: making men out to be, in a word, stupid. (The Carl’s Jr.’s commercials that state that without Carl’s Jr.’s some men would starve reprsent this trend most pointedly.) While such portrayals often get laughs, I find them quite disturbing and ultimately offensive. They seem to me to excuse stupid behavior because that is simply how men are. It amounts to a boys will be boys approach.

    Also, though, there seems to be more than a hint of the white male whose power is threatened attempting to take back that power in Foxworthy’s work. I have not watched Blue Collar TV, but from what I hear there is a real emphasis on working-class masculinity. What’s the role of women in the show? (There are a few in the ensemble cast.) And how does the show represent women’s experiences?

  • Actually, Git-r-done is Larry the Cable Guy’s line, and there is a world of difference between Jeff and Larry, even among rednecks. Jeff is very refined for a redneck, but Larry is the consumate redneck. Our family, except my wife, has really enjoyed Foxworthy’s work (except his sit-com). For a successful sit-com, one should look toward Reba. But deep inside a lot of us, Jeff Foxworthy strikes a chord.

    I believe that the carnival, as analysed by Baktine, is only part of the explanation. Foxworthy has found a way to laugh at himself and his social class. Foxworthy has lived the rags to riches dream of everyone who is born under the sign of hard luck. He has also learned to mix refinement with scatology, kind of like a modern-day Molière. People like Chappelle and Chris Rock have learned only to be completely rude, like modern-day Richard Pryors. I’m not saying that they don’t sell, too. But I am saying that Foxworthy is very clean next to a number of nastier boys and girls (Judy, for one).

    Foxworthy comes from the largest social class of pure Americana. He makes jokes about them, makes white trash and trailer trash funny. He has risen above his own station in life, kind of like the court jester who has become rich and famous, very rich and very famous. Kind of like a modern-day Molière.

  • … but I like it

    I think it’s right that the worthwile questions about Foxworthy are not about whether or not it’s sexist, classist, etc.; that kind of glib evaluative approach can quickly just become an inverted Arnoldianism (“the WORST that has been thought and said in the world …”). The interesting questions, as Brian Ott points out, are what are the conditions of its production and what are its appeals.

    That said, I’ll confess I watch the show now and then and find it sometimes hilarious. Maybe it’s because I have cousins who do things like live in their vans or sleep with their stepmom’s sisters (fear of falling, a la Ehrenreich?) Or maybe its because I live in Vermont where most of the poverty is rural. But my pleasure in it is definitely rooted in the fact that I’m a guy. This is squarely in the genre of masculine self-mockery. Partly defensive, partly a corrective to braggadocio, but at its best sometimes illuminating.

  • Hmmm

    I think the most interesting point Ott makes here is in the last 2 sentences….specifically “That said, Blue Collar TV does its work through the voice of a multi-millionaire, who is “owned” by a transnational media conglomerate.”

    It is extremely interesting to think about the fact that Foxworthy and crew are thriving and making millions of comedy rooted in working class ideals, yet they themselves, as nationally known stand-up comedians, are so far removed from such a life. An interesting question to consider is whether or not it is hypocrisy for these guys to be selling their brand of comedy in the name of a lifestyle that they probably rarely, if ever, live.

    I don’t personally find there to be a problem with it, simply because the show IS rooted purely in stand-up comedy. I think it would be a much bigger deal for these guys to be “selling” a working class life they know nothing about if it was in a serious or non-fictitious sense. As it is though, I wouldn’t really consider them hypocrites.

    Though I do think they’re not very funny at all….

  • You might be a ……….

    I think one of the most profound statements in the article was when it stated that, “with humor, timing is everything–not just rhetorical timing, but also social timing.” Blue collar TV can be examined more thoroughly if it is done so within social and economic timing and conditions. Jeff Foxworthy is successful in his humorous antics because he touches base with blue collar themes, such as bad jobs and bad marriages which are easy to relate to. Although these topics may not be filled with humor at home, when someone is able to contextualize them in such a way that the seriousness is taking away from the situation it is easier to make light of it. I agree that Blue collar TV is sexist, classist, racist, and homophobic, but without these elements would the show be as humorous and successful as it has been? Foxworthy is similar to the Dave Chappelle show as it questions why you find such degrading material funny. As I watch The Chappelle Show I wonder why I find racist and stereotyped humor so funny. I believe that by bring humor to situations that don’t deserve it, it brings about a utopian idea that the problems don’t really exist and that a homogenized equal society is soon to come. If classes and races of all division are able to find humor in issues that are sought to distinguish and separate, than in some way we are bringing about a certain idea of parity. Similarly, the Jeff Foxworthy show just may provide “temporary liberation for those whose lives were bleak and oppressive amongst the classes.” Whatever the reason it is important to sit back and think “Why do I find this Humorous?” In doing so we might find out more about ourselves than we thought we knew.

  • Marnie Binfield

    Clarification

    I am glad to see the Brian L. Ott’s column has sparked some discussion. I checked back in to see if anyone had responded to my questions and think they might have been misunderstood as rhetorical.I would just like to clarify that I was not attempting to argue that Blue Collar TV is sexist, necessarily. I am interested in the ways in which media portrayals can simultaneously prop up and challenge normative versions of masculinity and femininity. This is why I feel alert to the portrayal of men as basically dim-witted. I sincerly wonder about the way these portrayals work with and against dominant notions of masculinity.And, because I do not watch the show, I also sincerely wonder what sorts of roles women have in it. I see on the website that there are women in the cast, but I have never heard any of them mentioned in discussions of the show. I really would love to hear about the role of women in Blue Collar TV.Any ideas?

  • Most people just enjoy bad comedy

    I am in complete agreement with Mr. Ott that the good ol’ boys of the Blue Collar gang are “decidedly sexist, classist, racist, and homophobic.” However, I do think this explains the appeal of the show. What Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, and Bill Engvall are doing is nothing out of the ordinary. The sad truth is that making fun of people who are different is the easiest way to get a laugh. If you look at the incredibly popular African American based comedy that frequents BET, you can see the same formula. “White dudes” act like this, but “brothas” act like this. OK. We got it. Yet no matter how many times this same bit gets reused, the crowd reacts to it like they’ve never heard it before. People are eating this stuff up. Blue Collar is the same way, except instead of lingering on the differences between races, they have branched out to making fun of poor people and gay people. These types of laughs require no thought and its why this racist, sexist, homophobic humor is thriving, and why truly smart, thoughtful comedy is suffering.

    What’s most interesting is that I believe Blue Collar Comedian, Ron White is a different story. While his southern draw and redneck tendencies cannot be denied, I think he is a rather progressive voice especially compared to the crew he runs with and the audience he appeals to. I remember seeing a Ron White performance where he insisted from personal experience that all men are “a little gay on the inside.” He didn’t say anything to ridicule homosexuality and he got a good response from the crowd. Maybe guys like Ron White will be the catalyst to pull this brand of comedy out of the dumpster.

  • Richard DiLorenzo

    Who Are You Laughing At?

    A few weekends ago I had the flu and was forced to stay in bed all weekend. I turned on the TV and automatically turned to Comedy Central hoping to catch an episode of South Park or possibly a Kids in the Hall rerun. However, what I found was an entire day’s lineup of ‘Blue Collar Comedy’ and that being the only thing on, I watched about 8 hours of rednecks making fun of themselves. Not one to consider myself a redneck, I found this form of comedy less than hilarious. Hour after hour, the same four comedians made fun of the blue collar lifestyle and the audience would be in stitches. The audience, one can easily assume, was composed of the same working class people these comedians were making fun of, but were they laughing at themselves? In just about everyone of the jokes made during the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, the comedians would tell stories of their cousin shooting this with a shot gun, or their neighbor lighting this on fire, or their dad getting drunk and doing this. All of their jokes were about people other than themselves. I think that the audience as well attributes most of these ‘redneck’ qualities to people other than themselves, saying ‘oh yeah my cousin is just like that or my dad is the same way, or (even more ironic) oh yeah, the guy sitting right next to me laughing at the same joke gets drunk and does things just like that. If you look at it from that perspective, the claim made that “Blue collar TV is sexist, classist, racist, and homophobic” is flawed. This is because the comedians and audience are not condoning these socially unacceptable attitudes, but rather making fun of those who are racist and homophobic. I will defiantly agree with those who think that this ‘blue collar comedy’ is hurting intelligent comedy. As I mentioned before, the entire weekend on Comedy Central was devoted to this lowbrow sense of humor in an effort to draw the attention of those who are usually watching CMT. Since that “Blue Collar Weekend,” there has been a definite increase in the amount of redneck humor programs. The bad part of this, is that some people think that these comedians are making intelligent observations and the fact that they are making fun of other people makes them appear to be more sophisticated than the ‘rednecks’ they make fun of. Comedy Central even had a roast of Foxworthy where better and more intelligent comedians appeared to be legitimizing this blue collar craze. This is a sad departure from Comedy Central’s other programming like South Park who makes fun of those people who think they are making fun of other people but really are making fun of themselves. (Did I get that right?…ok). I guess if this regression is the future of comedy, I have nothing left to do but buy a shotgun, grab a beer, and make fun of my redneck neighbor.

  • You might hate this show if…

    Quite simply, “Blue Collar TV” is another example of a rich media empire (AOL) trying to get richer by pandering to the low, common man and doing it’s best to pervert any resemblance of a true message within. If “Blue Collar TV” were really about a comedian who had risen from poverty to make millions of dollars there would certainly be some sort of social commentary there that included a message along the lines of “you can do it”. Unfortunately, what the show does is revel in stereotypes that we should be working against in this day and age but instead are used as devices of our own amusement. Coming from a family of self-described “rednecks” that would be considered very much blue collar, I do not find the type of humor contained in the show to be typical of situations in rural, working class homes. The show hints on subjects that are dealt with in every day life but they are mangled so much in the translation that no one watching “Blue Collar TV” could really think that those things happen to anyone on any sort of regular basis. Even the idea that the people represented on the show are in any way representative of all of blue collar America is grossly overstating the fact. Isn’t the person working in a steel mill in Pittsburgh every bit as blue collar as the farm hand in Arkansas? “Redneck” feels to me more of a social slur than anything else, and while it does not have the same weight in our culture that a good number of racial slurs do, the intent is still there. In the same way that not every Asian person is a genius or that every African-American person is going to steal your wallet, not every rural white person is illiterate and racist.

    The humor of “Blue Collar TV” seems to me to be found in watching the exploits of people society would consider “lesser” than you. While watching Jeff Foxworthy and his crew poke fun at life in the rural south, most viewers get the sense that they are in some way better than those that are being made fun of. Even for the “blue collar” workers that the show claims to be catering to, you get the feeling that you aren’t quite as bad as those guys are and that makes it all the better. The kind of humor used in this show is intrinsically hierarchical in its delivery because someone is always the butt of the joke, or someone is made to feel stupid for one reason or another without any attempt to reconcile being “redneck” with being a valuable member of society. My biggest problem with the show is that there is no real sense of irony within the texts and the stereotypes found within do not work to point out any problems with the stereotypes themselves, they simply reinforce the idea that rural people are stupid, and stupid people sure are funny. One could argue that their complete lack of commentary outside that of the stereotypical is in it’s own way a comment on the dichotomy between what is seen and what the understood message is as it pertains to stereotypes and the like, but I think that would be a gross overstatement and the product of over analyzing the text. It seems to me that you might be a redneck if you are nothing like what “Blue Collar TV” makes you out to be.

  • I’ll tell you why it WAS funny…

    I really enjoyed this article, and I found it to be well conceived and written. Many of the points that came to mind while reading it have already been touched on, but I have some responses to previous posts nonetheless.

    Hmmmby Travis Wimberly 2005-04-27 23:52:37

    “An interesting question to consider is whether or not it is hypocrisy for these guys to be selling their brand of comedy in the name of a lifestyle that they probably rarely, if ever, live.”

    My response to this would be that simply because these men have made money and probably aren’t living the lifestyle they talk about now, it doesn’t mean they have no experience in the area and are necessarily “outsiders” poking fun at a different social class. I’ve heard Foxworthy himself say, when asked where his material comes from, that all the stories and “You might be a redneck if..”s come from his family…That all of these things are exaggerations or in most cases actualities that have occurred in his family life at some point. I would say at least growing up with this type of lifestyle is enough to not consider them hypocrites. However this does feed into another response…


    Who Are You Laughing At?by Richard DiLorenzo 2005-05-09 16:06:47


    “All of their jokes were about people other than themselves. I think that the audience as well attributes most of these ‘redneck’ qualities to people other than themselves…”

    I would totally agree with this. And to answer Ott’s question as to what makes Foxworthy and his pals appealing, I would have to turn to this simple observation. It goes right back to the simple “Nothin’s funny unless it’s about someone else.” Basic comedy formula, and all you have to do is make sure you don’t alienate EVERYONE, which of course, would be quite hard to do. You pick out something about someone that’s different, exaggerate it with a funny voice, good timing, etc. and you’ve got something that will make someone laugh [this is especially effective if they have quite a bit of exposure to the race, religion, etc. you’re poking at, but it’s not necessary]. The same thing is seen with the Chappelle show that has been mentioned previously. And just like Will Elliott points out in his “Most people just enjoy bad comedy” post, this type of thing can be recycled over and over and people still eat it up.

    This is where my confusion sets in. I can see how this stuff was funny at one point, but once I’ve seen it every time Foxworthy or a Blue Collar comedian (or for that matter Chappelle or a majority black comedian) steps on stage, anyone could tell you what the punch-line is going to be before they even set up the joke. Elliott’s “ ‘White dudes’ act like this, but ‘brothas’ act like this” formula is dead-on. This is where I don’t understand the appeal. The Chappelle Show, I’ll concede, does do a good job of finding innovative ways to recycle this formula, and much of it is funny because of its sketch format that allows for actual scenes to be acted out, this combined with Chappelle’s (dare I say) intelligent writing. The reason Chappelle is so successful [recent $50 million contract] is because he has found a way to re-package what has already been done and what he knows is effective. If one will take notice, his show rarely, if ever, contains any actual “stand-up” comedy, as all he usually does on stage in front of the live audience is set up the next skit. I would feel safe in saying his show would have been cancelled within the first few episodes if it were simply a normal stand-up comedy show, or even a Johnny Carson-type talk show with stand up included…there would be no REASON for any more episodes as there would be no more jokes.

    But as one can see, Foxworthy has not done this, as well as none of his or Chappelle’s contemporaries. There is no new packaging, and DEFINITELY no new material. This is what I don’t understand.

    I thought comedians had to come up with new material to stay funny and be successful…I guess all you really have to do is find a niche of pariah playback a record the same insults you came up with when you were a kid.

  • Ehhhh?

    Let me start by saying that I have not seen “Blue Collar TV”, but judging from previous comments, it seems that the show can appeal to different social classes for various reasons. By using stereotypes of blue-collar characters who are “white, Southern, alcoholic redneck(s),” the show serves to reaffirm these preexisting notions to the upper-class. This could be an appealing factor for upper-class audiences, in the fact that it confirms the stereotypes that the upper class has placed upon the blue-collar class. But, if the show is like “The Chappelle’s Show,” as Brian Ott said, then it most likely over-exaggerates these stereotypes in a manner that the blue-collar audience can distinguish between accurate depictions and the ridiculous lampoons the show presents. These exaggerated stereotypes, as critic Brian Ward implies, have historically been humorously appreciated by the group they are making fun of. This is because the social class being made fun of can recognize that the overly-exaggerated stereotypes serve to point out the ignorance of those that have made or believe in them. For example, I am a pretty regular, upper-middle class, white college male. Whenever I see a stereotype of let’s say, a white college student who bongs beers, sleeps late and smokes pot, I can recognize that, of course, not all of us are like that, and I find humor in the fact that some people may think that of us. So, if “Blue Collar TV” aims to poke fun at both the blue-collar class and the stereotypes that surround it, its appeal can transcend class boundaries.

  • Do you have to live it to understand it?

    -“All of their jokes were about people other than themselves. “-

    I found this statement to be false. Yes, Jeff Foxworthy has become extremely wealthy from the success of his tour but that does not change his experiences in the “Blue Collar” world that his comedy is based on. Saying that Jeff Foxworthy is hypocritical now that he has made money from his comedy would be like saying 50 Cent is hypocritical for singing about violence in the ghettos of New York City just because he has made money and doesn’t live there anymore. No one would dare accuse him of not knowing what that type of life is like so why are people so willing to question Jeff Foxworthy’s source of his comedy?

    Being from a small, conservative Texas town I am quite familiar with Blue Collar Comedy tour. It is one of the most popular shows among people my age there and even more popular among our parents. Most of the people in my town are “blue-collar” workers. I think that the success of this show has less to do with race and has more intersectional appeal that includes people of certain classes (no matter their race) that grow up in towns with people that are similar to the “Rednecks” that Foxworthy jokes about. Even the hispanic and African-American people in my community think that the show is funny. However, my Aunt and Uncle from the Highland Park area in Dallas do not.

    If you grow up around the types of people (“rednecks”) that the Blue Collar guys joke about I think you are more likely to “get it.”

  • What’s Not To Get?

    I have seen very little of Blue Collar TV. However, I have read many of the redneck joke books that Foxworthy has authored. I understand the humor, and have not found them to be sexist or racists. I understand Blue Collar TV to be based on his stand-up comedy, where his books are also based. While many of Foxworthy’s jokes appear to be recycled over and over, it is not fair to vilify Foxworthy as a racists, sexist, elitist, hypocrite, etc. based on his jokes or popularity. A major problem that I find in Ott’s article is that he equates working class to rednecks. This simply is not the case. You can be working class, but not redneck. So we must not confuse the two and brand Foxworthy as stereotyping working class behavior, because it is not working class behavior. While it may be titled “Blue Collar TV,” the title may confuse some. Jeff Foxworthy takes his own life experiences, which are “redneck” and simply pokes fun at them for being such. Rednecks tend to stem from working class, blue collar families, but are not limited to them exclusively. Ott seems to have trouble understanding why people find this humor amusing, but to many, it is quite relatable. For example, quoting Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if…You met your girlfriend at your family reunion.” This is funny to some people because they can relate to this situation. For myself personally, I know someone who did start dating his cousin after attending a family reunion. I found this joke to be particularly hilarious, because I could relate it to my friend, and the humor continues by poking fun at my friend. I think that Foxworthy’s humor is not racist or making fun of the working class, but simply pointing out silly things that many people do and classifying those silly actions as “redneck,” which anyone can be. While Foxworthy’s humor can be mean spirited, it does not single out an identifiable group or class of people.

    Furthermore, Ott says that in humor timing is everything,” …not just rhetorical timing, but social timing”. What does social timing have to do with Bill Engvall’s joke about Foxworthy not having a successful television show? His joke has nothing to do with society, but Foxworthy’s misfortune in television sitcoms. Ott aims to discredit Foxworthy but does not provide a clear reason or give an example of his fault. If you want to be upset at Foxworthy do it because you don’t appreciate his comedy, not because he is making money.

    Anyone can “get” Foxworthy’s humor. You simply have to be able to relate his jokes to your own life. If it does not apply to you, surely you know someone who does. In all comedy, not everyone is going to like and appreciate everything you do. It’s not fair to play the racist card, in a situation, where nothing racist has been said. To do this is to stereotype Foxworthy himself. Neither is it fair to claim that Foxworthy stereotypes all blue collar workers as rednecks. Foxworthy’s humor is situational, and if you cannot relate, consider yourself fortunate. The show is successful because so many people do “get it” and can relate to the situations. This is apparent from the sell-out shows coast to coast, signifying that it is not just understood in the South, but nationwide. Jeff Foxworthy is not hypocritical because he is making money and no longer living among “rednecks.” He is simply no longer “Blue Collar”, but that doesn’t mean that he cannot relate to the life he once led, and continues to relate to through friends and family.

  • It’s Supposed to Be Bad

    I must agree on the point that some of the images in Blue Collar can be seen as offensive to some viewers. However, as a fan myself, I see their portrayals as caracatures of real people rather than them trying to be real people themselves. The four guys that you see doing their standup are not the real guys themselves. I see them as over the top characters that they use to make fun of themselves and common misconceptions of “the Redneck” rather than offering a true to life depiction of the “Southern Redneck”. For example, on the 1st Blue Collar Comedy Tour Jeff Foxworthy talks about how you can’t really make fun of Rednecks unless you are one “and I are one” is how he replies. If anything at all, Bluee Collar is a self-depricating humor aimed at themselves that they are using to crack open these stereotypes of their culture rather than trying to hold them together.

  • I found this site through a google search.

    I realize it’s an old post, but I thought I’d add a comment nonetheless.

    The reason Foxworthy is funny is not for any of the reasons that anyone has mentioned here so far.

    All comedy ridicules something. We don’t laugh at things like 2+2=4. That would be an absurd, hysterical kind of laughter. Mathematic facts are simply not funny. We laugh at things that are ridiculous.

    Some forms of comedy ridicule the actions of people who are “just trying to be good people” because, according to this kind of comedy, it is humanly impossible to always do the right thing, or to be a “good person,” and so characters in such comedies end up in a kind of moral dilemma which has only some absurd solution that reveals the “foolishness” of wanting to be a “good person.” There are lots of sitcoms with this characteristic. Friends is a recent example, and so is Seinfeld, which doesn’t even deign to have the characters attempt to be “good people.” They’re simply trying not to step on other peoples shoes, but as they find out in the end… they have! The judge says, “I can think of nothing more fitting than for the four of you to spend a year removed from society so that you can contemplate the manner in which you have conducted yourselves. I know I will.” That’s like, totally tragicomic. They seem to say, “you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.”

    There is the type of comedy that ridicules ideas and behaviors that are irrational, or immoral. Strangers With Candy, Absolutely Fabulous, French & Saunders, and The Ali G Show immediately come to mind as recent examples of this kind of moral comedy.

    You might not think it is, but it really is moral comedy. Strangers with Candy is a show about a very racist, promiscuous, and moronic woman who desperately wants to fit in with the hypocritical society that judges her, but is no better than she is. The show is hilarious because the behaviors, exaggerated to the extreme, are consequences of thoughtless value judgments that are made because of the fear of what society will say about them, think about them, or worse, what it will DO to them if they don’t act in a way that conforms to the social “norms” and expectations. Those social norms and expectations however, as I said, are hypocritical, and so it’s just a self-perpetuating farce. It’s quite fitting that the setting is a high school, a setting in which teenagers want to “fit in” and conform, but the very thing to which they wish to conform is a social system that is usually hypocritical, cruel, and immoral.

    When people don’t think something is funny, it’s because they fail to understand its ridiculousness. There is a pre-existing condition that is necessary to understand the ridiculousness of something. People who have a strong sense of what is ridiculous have a correlational understanding about what is not. So if, for example, RACISM is a ridiculous notion, NOT judging people on the basis of race is a sound, rational way of being. Ridiculous, by turns, gains negative connotations because it is not thought out, it is not sound or rational, and so it becomes “bad.” Sure, you have to also accept that thinking things out and being rational are good things in order for the whole thing to work. Clearly I’m already working on those premises.

    Jeff Foxworthy worked on the premise that all the “redneck” behavior he described is ridiculous. Better, more refined behavior is not ridiculous. His appeal then is understandable. Who would find it funny if you described the life of a successful, sophisticated, well mannered man or woman? Perhaps a redneck?

  • Merci pour ce blog vraiment enrichissant. Je dois dire que je ne regrette en rien de m’être abonné à votre weblog. A bientôt.

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