Ron White may not realize it, but he has a special gauge to determine what's funny. And longtime friend Rodney Carrington maxes it out.
"I saw his show in Vegas this year, and I laughed so hard, I just snotted myself," White said during a phone interview with CMT. "He's so good at what he does."
The two are joining forces for a Wednesday night (June 15) show at Chicago's Rosemont Theatre during the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Their performance will be a highlight of the six-day festival that features dozens of top comedians, including Steve Martin, George Lopez, Seth Meyers, Louis C.K., Jim Norton, Jim Breuer and Whitney Cummings, among others.
Having both received major career boosts years ago at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, White and Carrington jumped at the chance to work together at this year's event in Chicago.
"The only reason I'm doing the Chicago festival is because of its connection to Just for Laughs," White said. "They treated me so good when I was absolutely nobody. ... There used to be an old Chicago comedy festival, and they bounced me a check for a hundred dollars. It's true. So I wasn't going to go back, but now it's different people. Carrington and I have been friends forever, and we've always wanted to do something together, so we decided this is what it would be. ... And I thought, 'Well, yeah, this will be a blast.'"
Carrington says he's proof the Just for Laughs festival can be a turning point in a young comic's career.
"Montreal was one of those deals where I did a seven-minute set at 1 o'clock in the morning in a bar, thinking, 'What am I doing here?'" he said. "And it turned out that Gene Black, who was one of the bigwigs over at Disney at the time, was there, and that one encounter turned into a television show [the ABC series, Rodney] eight years later. I mean, he just never quit on me. ... And had it not been for that encounter, that television show very well would've never happened. I know it would've never happened.
"So when people say something about these comedy specials, about whether or not they're good for a career or good for meeting somebody that can change your direction of where you're going, I really believe that all the comedy festivals have that capability. I think the landscape of television certainly is different from back then ... but I do believe that they still look for young talent. They look for guys that they can do something with. So it's a good thing all around."
White and Carrington have no plans to tour together, although they're not totally ruling out the possibility after the show in Chicago.
"We don't really have any plans to do anything except to remain friends, but this was just something we had talked about, and it was presented to us in this format," White said. "I go through about 140 cities a year. There is a lot of traveling and a lot of dates, so it's not easy to squeeze one in, but this one seemed special, so we did it."
"I don't know," Carrington said of performing additional shows together in the future. "I would like to do maybe 10 or 12 of them and just see how it goes. I think it could be a fun deal and a good opportunity for both of us. I mean, I've always liked working with Ron, and I just think we go well together."
In 2008, Carrington co-wrote and co-starred with Toby Keith in the feature film Beer for My Horses and co-starred in Trace Adkins' "I Got My Game On" music video. However, he says touring is his "real job."
"That's the bread and butter," he said. "That's the wheel that turns everything. That's the only thing that allows me to say no when somebody says, 'Do you wanna do this?' (laughs)
"Someone asked me the other day, 'What have you not done in your career that you're looking forward to doing?' And I said, 'Quittin'!'"