Blue Collar comedy
is a hugely popular movement in stand-up, inspiring countless tours, TV series and launching several successful comedy careers. But do you know who the Blue Collar comedians are? Here's a great place to start: check out this list of 10 essential Blue Collar Comedians, featuring many favorites and a few names you may want to check out.
1. Jeff Foxworthy
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Essentially the godfather of Blue Collar Comedy
, Jeff Foxworthy might be the nicest guy in stand-up. Creator of the famous routine "You might be a redneck if..." (which sort of provided the basis for the entire Blue Collar movement), Foxworthy organized the original Blue Collar Comedy Tour
-- the rest is history. With six albums (he's the best-selling comedian in history), 11 books and several TV shows (including The Jeff Foxworthy Show
, the sketch comedy Blue Collar TV
and the FOX game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
), Foxworthy has a massive body of work to back up his success. And, unlike some other Blue Collar comedians, you don't get the impression that Foxworthy's "regular guy" act is a put-on.
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If Jeff Foxworthy helped introduce the Blue Collar Comedy movement, Larry the Cable Guy
took it to its extreme and became its unofficial face, outpacing all of the other Blue Collar Comics in terms of popularity and success. Making this all the more ironic is the fact that he comes by it the least honestly; "Larry" is actually unsuccessful comedian and radio personality Dan Whitney adopting a character -- complete with fake accent and costume (sleeveless shirt and trucker hat). Larry the Cable Guy has become one of stand-up comedy's highest earners, launching several successful tours, best-selling albums and critically reviled movie flops. I guess you can't win them all.
Photo courtesy of Comedy Central/Paramount
Though an original member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour
, Ron White
is probably the least "blue collar" of the touring comics. He's also placed the greatest distance between himself and the "Blue Collar" movement, finding a great deal of success on his own as a hard-drinking, hard-living, bitterly sarcastic stand-up. His act is often very adult and obscene -- another way he stands out from the Blue Collar comedians. To audiences who may not enjoy the usual Blue Collar comedy, White's act is probably the most accessible -- and probably the funniest.
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Alongside fellow Blue Collar comic and best friend Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall (the fourth and final of the original Blue Collar comedians) is one of the more "family-friendly" of the Blue Collar comedians; he never works blue
and a good deal of his comedy is based on his own life as a family man. It may be this approach to comedy that led to his own TBS sitcom, The Bill Engall Show
, which debuted in 2007. With eight stand-up albums and over two decades in stand-up, Engvall has proven himself to be incredibly hard-working and devoted to comedy. Even if you don't find him funny, it's hard to disagree that he seems like a heck of a nice guy and deserving of his success.
Photo by Richard McLaren, courtesy of Shock Ink
Though perhaps not typically associated with the Blue Collar Comedy movement, comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham
actually has a lot in common with the Blue Collar comics: his comedy is mostly clean, he traffics in the same kind of humor (complete with stereotypes and a pro-America sensibility) and has become a huge hit with mainstream middle America. It's hard to believe that a ventriloquist act could become one of the most successful names in stand-up, but Jeff Dunham has done just that. With the highest-rated special in Comedy Central history and his own show on the same network, Dunham just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Plus, his lips don't move.
6. Reno Collier
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Reno Collier is part of the second wave of Blue Collar comedy, called Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation
. Getting his big break as an opening act for Larry the Cable Guy
, Collier quickly found success among fans of Blue Collar comedy and became a regular opener for acts like Foxworthy, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy (who he has toured with several times). A frequent contributor to Country Music Television, Collier may be most recognizable to many Americans as the host of NBC's reality show The Great American Road Trip
. He also scored laughs at Comedy Central's Roast of Larry the Cable Guy
in 2009, proving that he could be funny outside of the Blue Collar crowd.
7. John Caparulo
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Another member of The Next Generation, Midwest native John Caparulo can be seen as the host of Mobile Home Disasters on CMT. He's also a regular contributor to Chelsea Lately and was a featured comedian in Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show. Like other members of The Next Generation, Caparulo is less pigeonholed as a "Blue Collar" comedian than his predecessors, but his roots are still firmly in Blue Collar humor. For evidence, check out his 2009 stand-up album, Meet Cap.
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When stand-up comic Jon Reep won Season Five of the NBC reality series Last Comic Standing, it was obvious that a Blue Collar comedy star had been born. Though not affiliated with the other Blue Collar comedians or tour, it's not difficult to see that Reep's comedy is decidedly "blue collar": he describes himself as a "metro jethro," or someone who grew up in a small town (in his case, Hickory, North Carolina) but now resides in a big city. Reep's comedy, like other Blue Collar comedians, is based in applying those "small town" ideas to every day life.
9. Rodney Carrington
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Comedian and musician Rodney Carrington is one of the top touring acts in the U.S. with six successful comedy albums under his belt. In addition to being star of his own short-lived ABC sitcom Rodney
and a co-star in country star Toby Keith's
movie Beer for My Horses
, Carrington regularly appears on CMT where music videos for his comedic country songs (with names like "Letter to My Penis") are in heavy rotation. Though several of the Blue Collar comedians combine stand-up with a country sensibility, Carrington is the only comedian on the list to successfully be both a country star and a stand-up comic.
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Kathleen Madigan represents a different side to Blue Collar Comedy than the other comics on the list. Not only is she the only female comedian, but whereas most of the Blue Collar comics reflect Southern sensibilites, Madigan's a more middle-American, metropolitan comic. Like all of the Blue Collar comics, Madigan's humor is populist and universal -- she has a wealth of material about her Irish Catholic upbringing, her family and everday life in general. She's also incredibly hard working, touring nonstop and performing in USO shows for the troops overseas. And, just in case there was any doubt about her Blue Collar credentials, Madigan hosts a regular show on SIRIUS XM's Blue Collar Radio.