Jeff Foxworthy spent last Tuesday morning sitting in a tree with a bow and arrow.
"That's kind of who I am," said the 64-year-old comic a few hours later, climbing up a hill from his home in west central Georgia so he could get phone reception. "I'm very blessed and thankful to be successful at doing this. But I don't have an aircraft hangar with 50 Porsches in it. I have a farm. That's what I did with my money."
Foxworthy's passion for hunting and choice of living off the grid are just a couple of reasons why he remains one of the country's all-time most successful comics. He will stop at Mystic Lake Casino Showroom in Prior Lake on Thursday.
He took time to chat about his career as he and his wife prepared to host 31 people for a Thanksgiving dinner.
Q: You taped your last TV special, "The Good Old Days," at the Pantages Theatre about a year ago. Why did you pick Minneapolis?
A: In all transparency, I should say that I originally wanted to do it at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta because that's where I'm from. That was my favorite theater as a kid. But it's just too big. Because of all the COVID stuff, we knew we couldn't do it there. There's just a few cities in the country that are known among comics as good comic towns and Minneapolis is one of them. I've always had fun there.
Q: I've heard lots of comics say that about Minneapolis. What makes a good comedy town?
A: That's a great question. I don't know if anyone has ever asked me that. I think it's an attitude, the ability to laugh at yourself. In places like Los Angeles and New York, people can take themselves a little too seriously, especially in this environment. They've lost the ability to laugh at themselves.
Q: In the special, you didn't tell any of the "You know you're a redneck" jokes. Have you officially retired those?
A: I probably haven't done them onstage in 10 years. It's funny, that's what everybody remembers me for. I never thought about it until a buddy of mine pointed out that they were one-liners that were easy to remember. People could tell three of them at the water cooler the next day and get laughs. But even at the height of their popularity, I only did them during the last five minutes of a two-hour show. I'm more of a storyteller. If you look at the body of my work, it's mostly about family and my wife.
Q: Ron White and Kathleen Madigan recently performed here. Like you, they get labeled as blue-collar comics. What does that mean?
A: Let me tell you how I first came up with it. When the Kings of Comedy Tour started, one of their first stops was Atlanta. I was reading about it in the paper and it said the show was for the urban, hip audience. I called up Bill Engvall and said, "Urban and hip? Well, that leaves a lot of people out. We need to do a show for everyone else." He laughed and said, "What do you want to call it?" Without giving it much thought I said, "The Blue Collar Comedy Tour." I'm not singing a sad song because I had a great childhood. When I was a kid, we had a dirt yard. Nothing prepared me to be a little famous and have some money. I'm still kind of that kid.
Q: You really burst onto the national scene with your own network show in the mid-'90s, but you haven't done much acting since then. Was the sitcom kind of obligatory in those days?
A: That was it. That's what separated you from the pack. Before that, it was being on "The Tonight Show." If Johnny Carson called you over to the couch, you went from playing clubs to headlining in Vegas overnight. It was like being made in the Mafia. Of all the things I've done, the sitcom was the least satisfying. Right off the bat, they didn't want me in the writers' room. And I was like, 'Yeah, but it's called "The Jeff Foxworthy Show." The scripts weren't that funny. I tried to act like I was sad when it was canceled, but I really wasn't. I'd much rather do stand-up. Louie Anderson, who was one of my heroes, was kind of like that. He dabbled in television but he was really a stand-up and he did it for a long time.
Q: Ron has announced that he's retiring at the end of this year. Have you ever given that any thought?
A: Flying and staying at hotels is getting harder on my body. I don't have the same energy I had when I was 40. But when the lights go up and people start clapping, it still gives me chicken skin. It's the greatest job in the world. My concern is I'll keep doing it when I'm not funny anymore. I always say to my wife, "Please tell me when I'm not funny. Please don't let me be that guy."
Jeff Foxworthy's greatest hits
1984: Wins the Great Southeastern Laugh-off at Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta. Meets his future wife that same night.
1990: Makes his debut on "The Tonight Show." Jay Leno is the guest host. He gets a chance to perform for Johnny Carson the following year.
1993: Releases "You Might Be a Redneck If ... " album. Goes on to sell more than 3 million copies.
1995: "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" debuts on ABC; show later moves to NBC. Haley Joel Osment, who would go on to star in "The Sixth Sense," plays his son.
1996: Releases his autobiography, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem!"
2000: Spearheads the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White.
2007: Begins hosting game show, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"
2021: Records "The Good Old Days" at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, his first solo TV special since 1998.
If you go
When: 8 p.m. Thu.
Where: Mystic Lake Casino, 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake.
Tickets: $49, mysticlake.com