For Larry the Cable Guy, nothing signals the impending arrival of Christmas like taping a holiday TV special in late July in Nashville.
That was exactly the situation a few months back when he and his friends gathered at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to tape Larry the Cable Guy’s Hula-palooza Christmas Luau, a 90-minute special premiering Friday (Nov. 20) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT. The show will be available on DVD from Jack Records/Warner Bros. Records beginning Tuesday (Nov. 24).
This year, the special includes such guest stars as Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live), Caroline Rhea, George Lindsey (The Andy Griffith Show), comedians Reno Collier and Jon Reep, Peter Oldring, Sara Erikson, the MuzikMafia’s Two Foot Fred, mentalist Marc Salem and returning favorites Tony Orlando and Angela Little MacKenzie (Reno 911). In addition to comedy and sketches, the special will include musical performances from Billy Currington and the Zac Brown Band.
During the July taping, CMT Insider’s Allison DeMarcus had the unique opportunity to talk to Larry about the special, his thoughts about the holidays and his friendship with Tony Orlando. Here’s a portion of that interview:
CMT: So let’s talk about your Christmas special.
Larry the Cable Guy: Oh, it’s a good special.
What’s the name of it?
Larry the Cable Guy’s Hula-palooza Christmas Luau. I tried to find something short this year, so we went with Larry the Cable Guy’s Hula-palooza Christmas Luau. It’s such a long name, I don’t even know what the name is. We try to make the name longer and longer every year. First, it was Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular. Then it was It’s a Very Larry Christmas. Now it’s Larry the Cable Guy’s Hula-palooza Christmas Luau. I’ll tell you what it is: It’s funny. That’s what it is. Who cares what the name of it is? It is a funny special.
And it gets longer and longer as far as the name goes. We’ll be sitting here in 15 years, and they’ll go, “Larry, what’s the name of your Christmas special?” It’s The Very Larry Christmas Palooza Luau Alan Jackson’s Extravaganza Guests of Many Stars Retired and Otherwise Special. I mean, who knows where this could end? They should just say no matter what the title is, “it’s funny.” It is a good special. Third one in a row. This is our third one this year. Tony Orlando’s my co-host, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And it’s good. I’m excited about it. Every year, this is the time I look forward to it. This time of year.
Every July, I look for this. (laughs) It’s supposed to be Christmas. Every July, I look forward to taping a Christmas show — in July in Nashville. In 98-degree weather. I love it.
What is it like to work with Tony Orlando?
Tony and I, we were secretly married two years ago. He’s my lover. I’ll admit it. I don’t care. I’ll tell the world. Tony and I have been lovers now … partners … and, uh … no. No, honestly, I met Tony when he came to one of my shows in Springfield, Mo. I’m about to go onstage, and they go, “Hey, Larry, Tony Orlando’s here to see you.” And I’m thinkin’, “Tony Orlando? The Tony Orlando?” And here he came walking in. And at first, I thought it was Geraldo. I had no idea at first. I’m like, “Wait a minute. That’s Geraldo.”
I met Tony that night. And, honestly, Tony Orlando is one of the nicest guys I have ever met — bar none — in my entire life. I was always a fan when I was a kid — you know, huge fan. Who wasn’t a fan of Tony Orlando? He is almost the soundtrack to everybody’s life. … And just the fact, I’m real nostalgic. … And I’m going, “Man, Tony Orlando, that’s the guy. I can’t believe he’s coming to my show.” He came to my show, loved the show and came out and hung out with us later on the bus. Actually, on the bus, I popped on the ’70s channel on Sirius Radio and “Candida” came on. And Tony started singing. I’m going like, “Holy crap! Tony Orlando is on my bus singing ’Candida.'” It was unbelievable.
Anyway, we got to be really good friends. I loved his variety show. And so, one day, I said, “Tony, if I ever did a Christmas special, would you wanna be my co-host?” And he said, “Yeah, I’d love to.” And I said, “Awesome! I hope it does well. I hope it turns into something good.” And every time we show it, the ratings are through the roof, and people love me and Tony together. He really is one of my best buddies now, and doing a show with him, it’s easy. We bounce stuff off each other. It’s just like hanging out at the Waffle House or something. Seriously. So I’m glad he’s on there. He’s a godsend. He’s a lot of fun. I would say he’s like dad to me, but I’m not much younger than him.
Like a big brother.
He’s like a big brother to me. He’s like … let’s see. If your parents had a kid, and then they had a mistake 18 years later, then that would be your brother. So he’s my mistake brother. Can I call him that — my mistake brother?
I think you can. He won’t mind.
Seriously, he’s awesome. I don’t know what I’d do if he wasn’t in my Christmas special. But the Christmas special is hilarious. Every year, we try to make this the funniest thing. We try to beat the last year. Any joke that we write that’s a holiday-type Christmas joke, it doesn’t go to the act. It goes into the Christmas special. I’ve got a big file of new stuff and, of course, I’ve got four or five buddies of mine that write these with us. Hilarious guys, all good friends of mine. We’ve known each other forever.
What do you think about all the political correctness about Christmas?
I think it’s ridiculous. My grandpa got fired the other day for saying “merry Christmas” at the store he works at. Can you believe that? Of course, it is July — and he had his underwear on over his pants — so I guess that might have had something to do with it.