Paying tribute to the U.S. armed forces, Ron White and CMT have partnered for Ron White’s Comedy Salute to the Troops , debuting Saturday (March 12) at 9 p.m. ET/PT. White taped the special at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville with several of his comic friends, including Lewis Black, Kathleen Madigan and Tim Wilson.
Ticket proceeds helped the Armed Forces Foundation, a nonprofit organization which provides financial support, career counseling, housing assistance and recreational therapy programs to the military community.
Just before taking the stage, the Blue Collar Comedy favorite chatted with CMT Insider correspondent Allison DeMarcus about his fundraising for wounded soldiers and joked about his super-healthy liver and his cuddly comedy counterpart.
CMT: What makes you want to continue to do this salute to the armed forces? I know this is your fourth year.
White: It doesn’t really matter who you talk to in this country, nobody is going to argue the fact that we’ve got to have a military and they have got to do what they are told. So most people can get onboard with a charity like this. I haven’t run into one person that said, “They had it coming.” I started off with the Blue Collar tour at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] and started meeting some of these guys who have made this huge sacrifice that they can’t get back. It’s not going to be better five years from now. Those legs are still going to be gone when it’s not a popular cause. That’s when everybody needs to gut it up and make sure there is awareness out there and the help gets to where it needs to be.
You’ve done a lot for the troops over the years. What’s different about having them for an audience, versus your typical audience that comes to your show.
They have drugs in their pockets, the ones that got wounded, and I could bum Demerol from them. I am like, “You! Hey listen, how long you going to be out of the hospital, dude? You couldn’t possibly need 16 Demerol between now and then.” So now I pop a couple of Demys and then I send the scotch down looking for it — “Go find that Demerol, see what you can do.”
There’s nothing different about a military crowd and a regular crowd. They think the same thing is funny that you think is funny. But it’s easy to perform for troops because they want a break from what is mentally going on in their heads, and so they make great crowds.
How do you make your material more TV- and family-friendly?
It’s not going to be. It’s not going to be TV-friendly, family-friendly. It’s going to be my regular show, and if they have to bleep part of it, they have to bleep part of it. Now, I am going to take out some of the little more edgier stuff, but it is still going to be me. And that’s what CMT wants. They don’t want a diluted Ron White. They don’t want a sweater-wearing Star Search geek. If they wanted one, they could have just gone and got one. There’s about a thousand of them.
How many bottles of scotch do you think that you go through?
A day? Seven. About a gallon and three-quarters a day.
Yeah, I just got my liver tested, and they said it was fine. And I said, “I am going to the bar.”
They said your liver was fine?
I know. I am like, “What does it take? Good God, how do you get cirrhosis if I don’t have it?”
That is really impressive. You have a great liver. Congratulations!
I do, thank you very much. I have some photos of it in my bus if you want to … go check it out.
I’d love to see this. I’m sure they are really interesting. Oh, my Lord. We were talking to Lewis Black, and I need to know whether Lewis is more cuddly than Larry the Cable Guy?
Is more cuddly to you or to me?
You, not me.
To me. I dig fat dudes, so I think Larry. Even though he lost that 50 pounds, he is still fat, so I think it would be him. Lewis is a better kisser, no doubt about that. But cuddly … if you are straight-up cuddly, it’s Larry.
Ron, if somebody were to write a country song about your life, what would they say about you? And who would you want to sing it?
What would they say about me? I am a typical country song, a living country song. Drinking and cheating and eating too much of grandma’s cooking and a truck. I guess I would want Margo, my wife to sing it. She has got the best set of pipes that I have ever heard. [His wife, Margo Rey, performed for the audience later that night.] I met her 23 years ago. I saw her on a stage in a little leather mini-skirt, just belting out this rock song on her knees, and I said, “That’s the sexiest thing that I have ever seen in my life.” And here is how I operate: When I see something I like, 20 years later I ask her brother for her phone number.
So you were on it.
I was on it. You didn’t even see me coming. It was stealth.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming comics?
Well, you’re going to need a pen because when you have a funny thought, you are going to need to jot that down on a piece of paper. Good luck. That’s it.