Would you believe it has been 24 years since Jeff Foxworthy released a solo stand-up comedy special? Believe it or not, it’s the truth. And the king of redneck jokes finds himself feeling grateful for still being in the joke-telling business, and also feeling more than a little bit nostalgic for how things used to be, even though he readily admits those days don’t always sound quite as good when you describe them now.
The Gist: Even if you’re not a diehard Foxworthy fan, you’ll still likely recognize that face and mustache, as well as the sound of his voice.
At 63, he has been a part of our pop culture for for more than 30 years, rising to fame with his “you might be a redneck” jokes, having his first two comedy albums go triple-platinum, writing several books, starring in his own primetime network sitcom, and then headlining the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” with Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and Ron White. And even if you didn’t pay attention to any of that, you probably still saw him hosting the game show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
As the title of his new solo hour suggests, Foxworthy will be waxing nostalgic about the way things used to be.
What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: There have been plenty of Boomer and even Gen X guys in comedy to take you down Memory Lane, asking you to recall life without cell phones or the like. Of course, anything Foxworthy does these days also will remind you of his pals from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
Memorable Jokes: Foxworthy compares his 85-year-old mother to “the balance of Ron White after midnight” and closes with a pre-pandemic road story of touring with Larry the Cable Guy and finding himself buck naked in a hotel hallway.
His first big opening salvo demonstrates one of the two things he learned from living through the pandemic: How he cannot keep up with his wife in conversation, with a bursting stream-of-consciousness from her mouth to his ears that lasts multiple minutes.
The titular idea of “the good old days” comes, naturally, from his elderly parents bemoaning the state of things today, although as Foxworthy points out, it’s really as simple as technology getting more advanced than you are. As he suggests in a Would You Rather: “Would you rather teach your mother how to text, or teach your dog how to wipe his ass?”
Foxworthy also devotes a 10-minute chunk to an entirely modern topic, that of how his wife packs for vacations on airplanes versus car trips, compared to how quickly he can decide what goes into a carry-on bag for a 10-day trip.
Our Take: Foxworthy doesn’t fully subscribe to the idea of the good old days himself. Would you want to grow up without indoor plumbing? Is it really that preferable to have elderly people not only using Viagra, but also talking openly about erectile dysfunction in radio and TV ads?
For himself, he does find himself longing for the excess energy of his youth, the idea of “treasure chest” rewards for going to see the doctor, or only needing to remember one password, and that was for entering his secret kid club in the woods.
But plenty of his premises, because they’re mining our memories of the way we used to live, aren’t really saying anything new, either. Sure, he gets an applause break for remembering when he could only receive a trophy if he won the event. And yet so many other comedians have beaten him to that punchline. Remembering a time when we had to use cameras and film and rely upon photo developers, or use maps instead of GPS, or wait for encyclopedias, or even the idea of drawing a picture of his body in crayon and mailing it (instead of texting a dick pic), all of this territory is well-worn for comedy already.
So why go there? I suppose because nostalgia jokes are comfort food.
Macaroni and cheese might not win a culinary contest, but it certainly feels like a winning meal to many now and forever.
And Foxworthy remains quite proficient and efficient at what he does as a stand-up.
So it’s ironic that if he were to truly deliver a special about “the good old days,” the thing his fans probably would most want to devour out of him would’ve been a bold new hour of “you might be a redneck” jokes. That might even have been more surprising and thrilling to see.
Our Call: Look. You review comedy specials long enough, you know that for every person who says SKIP IT, there’s an equal and opposite number of people who shout STREAM IT. That said…this hour may contain lots of laughs, but they’re only as loud as an LOL text. So if you’re looking for light chuckles, go ahead and stream. But big belly laughs? Skip this hour.
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.