The History Channel isn't just for Hitler anymore. Among the network's newer shows that look back on antique items, comes this newest one: Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy.
The series debuts tonight. Here's a clip.
Not to be confused with Bob Saget's recent look at American subcultures for A&E, the first episode of Only in America, titled "Larry Makes Moonshine," sends the comedian to California for frog-jumping competitions (just like a modern-day Mark Twain?!?), to Vermont for etiquette lessons, and yes, into redneck country to learn and make moonshine with some good ol' boys.
The comedian recently sat down (or stood, I don't know what he was doing since he was on a speakerphone) to answer questions about his TV series.
Where did you get the idea for Only in America?
Larry the Cable Guy: Well, you know, they had called – they had this show, they called my manager, he called me and I said, ‚ÄúMan, that sounds good. I‚Äôm about as American as it comes.‚Äù You know, I grew up on a pig farm in southeast Nebraska and been living in Florida for 34 years so I said, ‚ÄúThis is a show I think I‚Äôd like to do.‚Äù I think it‚Äôs kind of cool too because I actually have a bit in my act where I talk about how I quit watching the news because the news makes me depressed and it kind of takes away my pride in America. And – because I travel all around the country and I perform in front of thousands of people and there‚Äôs good – there‚Äôs great people out there. This is a great country and (fans). So this is a great opportunity for me to go out and do stuff with just regular Americans and just show that there are – that this is still a great country and we have the greatest culture in the world and the greatest country in the world. So it puts me in a great element. I love talking to people. I love hanging out with people and it was a perfect show for me so that‚Äôs why I decided to do it. Not only that, but it gives me a chance as well to do what I do but yet also be myself. So, you know, they‚Äôre not all funny. There‚Äôs some moments where, you know, there‚Äôs some people that explaining stuff and telling me stuff and so proud of something that they start tearing up and crying and I‚Äôm able to be myself in certain situations and tone it down a little bit and just enjoy the moment. So I like it for various reasons, but this is a great show for me.
Did you have any favorite places you visited during filming for the show?
You know what? Honestly every place I went to was awesome. I met great people and they were all fun to do and be at, but I would say probably the places that I would love to go back where I really learned a lot was I‚Äôd like to go back to do Houston and do NASA. I mean I really enjoyed that. I got to do a space shuttle – I got to do the simulator on the space shuttle. I got to do so many things that I never thought I‚Äôd ever get to do in my entire life. But that‚Äôs one place that I‚Äôd definitely like to go back and do.
I‚Äôd like to do the USS Nimitz again and hang out with all them kids. I mean they‚Äôre only 17 or 18, 19, 20, 21 years old and they‚Äôre in charge of millions and millions of dollars of equipment and just doing a great job and launching planes off ships. I‚Äôd like to go back and do that.
You know, just it was all fun. I learned a lot in every episode and I met a lot of great people. And one of the main themes to what I saw with people was a lot of the family involvement, a lot of families started things and they passed it down to their family. And I learned that almost – that a lot of things that we brought over from other countries, we developed and made better and that was the cool thing about America. That‚Äôs why we‚Äôre such a great country. We borrow stuff from other countries and we take what they did and we perfect it and we make it even better.
Had you ever done a cross-country road trip before just for fun?
Yeah. That‚Äôs the cool thing too. That what I always – you know, I did that one time. I took a drive from Florida to Los Angeles with a couple of friends and stopped at a lot of small towns and did stuff that they had to do and it was one of the funnest times I ever had. It‚Äôs almost like different people in different parts of the country, they forget that, you know, their fellow Americans in other parts of the country that do a lot of things that are really cool. And you may think it‚Äôs corny but to them it‚Äôs not and if you would just get out and see it and realize what they‚Äôre doing, I think we would all bond a little bit better and get along a lot better.
Have you seen Bob Saget's Americana-themed show?
Oh, yeah. I never – you know what, I saw – when I first saw that I was like, ‚ÄúWait a minute. They‚Äôre doing like the same show.‚Äù You think that they would let each other know. I think they‚Äôre only like two buildings apart from each other. But I‚Äôve never seen the show but all my cameramen know the cameramen on that show and my cameramen and their cameramen said that they are similar in premise but the shows are completely different.
But, you know, this is definitely going to have a lot of historical content. I ask a lot of historical questions. Questions that I wanted to know, you know, because I find myself to be pretty regular so, you know, I felt if I thought it was interesting, other people would too so I asked questions that I thought that people would want to know. It‚Äôs like at NASA, you know, I did a whole show on the toilets up in space because a lot of people want to know, how in the world do you go to the bathroom in space? How does it work? You know, nobody knows that. So we had a choice, we could show me doing the experience of the space shuttle flying up into space — I did the simulator — or we could show the scene where I did the toilet. Obviously we picked the toilet because who cares about – everybody knows how it flies up but nobody knows the toilet thing. So that‚Äôs what we picked.
How much did you balance trying to be funny in character versus just having fun?
Well, you know, the cool thing about this show is, I can – it‚Äôs the one show that I‚Äôve done where I can be Larry the Cable Guy and I can be myself because I‚Äôm out with people and I‚Äôm just hanging out basically. So I thought it would be funny – the Emily Post thing, I thought it was funny to go some full-on character because it‚Äôs so opposite of what they‚Äôre trying to do. So just for the sake of the humor part of it, that‚Äôs what I did. But when it was time to get serious, like when she was talking about her grandma and (the book that she) – you know, that was a time to be serious and I kind of dropped the accent a little and I was a little more normal in the serious situations.
But that‚Äôs the cool thing about this show. It shows me in two different kinds of lights. It shows me in full-on character. It shows what I do for a living. It shows that. But yet it also shows myself. That‚Äôs why there‚Äôs a lot of shows that are touching. You know, like when we go give out – well we do Secret Santa and we give people money and people start breaking down and crying. I mean there‚Äôs a time to be funny and a time not to be funny. As far as the Borat thing goes with that I definitely don‚Äôt want to insult anybody. That‚Äôs not why I‚Äôm there. I love – everybody that I did shows with, I really like them and I really like people and I enjoy – there wasn‚Äôt anybody that I did a show with that I didn‚Äôt like. I did a lot of the etiquette thing. It‚Äôs just called – that was a situation that called for, ‚ÄúOh man, this is a good Larry the Cable Guy situation to try and rattle them a little bit, you know, because they‚Äôre so proper.‚Äù And I‚Äôm not – even in real life I‚Äôm not that proper, you know.
But the thing I wanted to get across is – and I told that guy too, I said, ‚ÄúLook, a lot of people might think this is really corny and really goofy because a lot of people don‚Äôt give a – they could care less what side of the plate the fork is on.‚Äù I mean it‚Äôs not something that they concentrate on. But to him and his family and his grandmother that was a very important thing. Now there are a lot of people that are really into that. And my point to him is, I may not buy into that, I may not think – I may not care that the fork is on one side or the other but I‚Äôm glad he‚Äôs there. He‚Äôs part of American history. His grandmother was part of American history. And, yes, some people need a lesson in etiquette. There‚Äôs no doubt about it. So I am glad they‚Äôre there. I am glad they‚Äôre doing what they do. I definitely learned a lot.
The part where I was…Larry the Cable Guy and trying to do some shocking stuff to them was because it was just a situation called for it because it was a proper situation and I‚Äôm not proper and, you know, I wanted to get some laughs out of the whole deal. I mean if it was just me going and taking an etiquette class, I mean who‚Äôs going to watch that? But if I can balance the two and I can make some good points and I can be funny but yet I can learn a few things and we all have a good time doing it, then that‚Äôs what it‚Äôs about. So I think I got all of that in that whole etiquette episode.
The moonshine episode I felt like I was right at home. Those moonshine guys, I‚Äôve grown up with guys like those guys. I felt like – when I worked with the moonshine guys, I felt like I was hanging out with an uncle or something. They were big fans of mine. I liked them. You know, it gave me a chance to cut loose and really, you know, get down into what I do. So that was – they were both fun, both completely different.
This series is all about you getting out and discovering America. How did the things you did on the series compare to what you normally do when you‚Äôre traveling around America on the stand-up tour?
Well this was different in a way that I participated in some activities and stuff like that. I mean when I‚Äôm touring, you know, I get to hang out with people and stuff and do things but I don‚Äôt get to, you know, hang out for a long time and actually go do things with them and participate. When I‚Äôm doing shows I‚Äôm out on the road. I see people at meet-and-greets and talk to people at meet-and-greets. And then generally once the show‚Äôs over you‚Äôre back on the bus, you‚Äôre going to a new – I‚Äôm going to another venue.
This, I fly in, I show up, I meet this guy, I interview him, he takes me around, I meet his family, I meet his co-workers, we go to dinner, we do activities. So I was actually doing things and being a part of something for awhile. So that really got me ingrained in what they did. So I thought – not only was that fun for me but I think it was fun for them too. There‚Äôs not one place that I didn‚Äôt go where I didn‚Äôt have fans and it was just awesome. They were all glad I was there and I was glad I was there too. I really enjoyed it.
And (as much) as I was on the road, I was on the road over 300 days this year, but as much as I was doing those when it came time to wrap up for the day we would usually stay an hour or two longer and hang out with everybody because they were really fun to – I really enjoyed everything I did and I enjoyed the people. So it was a lot of fun. So that was the only difference, you know, I actually participated and I was part of their family for a day.