Jon Reep is a self-described "Metro Jethro." It's his term for a rural Southern boy who finds himself living in the big city. People know he's from Hickory, N.C., because he has said it more than once or a billion times before, during and after winning Last Comic Standing. His hometown buddies call him Hollywood because he lives in Los Angeles, but even after eight years in L.A., people there call him a redneck. As he describes in this new promo video, he's actually both. Hence, ergo, the title of his new comedy CD and DVD, Metro Jethro:
Within the first minute onstage in Charlotte for Metro Jethro, Reep is doing a sort-of Puppetry of the Paunch to show us his "bagel." Reep is no simple redneck, though, because, well, do rednecks work out at the gym? He does, or at least has been around a locker room or two enough to have developed some specific rules for acceptable male nudity. To him, it's not so much about your sexual orientation as it is "your sexual approximation — to my face. Keep your deal out of my grill!"
Never mind the Carolina accent. Reep's act, at least in this hour, is really more about any small town in America. Here is a clip in which he begins to lay out his comedic thesis:
Did your high school football coach also teach driver's ed? Did you ever see the mailman deliver the mail in his own car? I think saw both of these things at one point in my youth, and I grew up in Connecticut. Reep talks about other small-town joys, such as tubing on the river, going to the fair and cruising on the weekends. I've lived in towns like these all over America earlier in my newspaper career and have come across and befriended plenty of people like those Reep talks about.
Reep also is willing to poke a little fun at himself for having a year in which he could boast that he was the best comedian in the world, at least according to NBC's Last Comic Standing. "It's not my fault that Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock did not enter the contest," he jokes, adding that he wished he could have received one of those cartoonishly large title belts that he could have worn into comedy clubs and called out his fellow stand-ups. Not that he'd actually have done that, he says. Nor does he seem like the kind of guy to pick a fight. After all, Reep's YouTube name is GrinReeper – and the featured video from 1995 shows a younger Reep playfully dancing on the field at a Carolina Panthers game, stirring trouble but in a happy-go-lucky kind of way.
Despite the "Metro Jethro" title and jokes, Reep is not as reliant on contrivances and catchphrases as the "blue-collar" stand-ups who came before him (as in, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy). He's just a friendly, energetic small-town guy poking fun at the people and things in his small town, and likely your small town, too. It's not groundbreaking, but it's not meant to be. Reep's comedy is more like comfort food. Just like you'd find at your county fair or small-town kitchen. And I can see plenty of people buying what he's selling. Hemi or no Hemi.