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Great Failures From The Past: Not Larry the Not Cable Guy

Sometime in the early ’90s, a guy named Dan Whitney abandoned his government name and became Larry the Cable Guy, becoming rich and famous for saying a couple catchphrases in a funny voice. It’s a phenomenon I like to remind myself about whilst writing dozens of original jokes a day and only getting recognized by the cop who pulled me over two months ago and isn’t happy to have done so again.

“That $200 for speeding, and $500 for being a dumb shit who doesn’t learn his fucking lesson.”

As it turns out, Whitney did some stand up as himself. After watching his set, I can safely say that typecasting himself as a wacky hillbilly was an improvement. From the start, Dan was clearly no fan of narratives, choosing the rapid-fire one-liner route. That would be fine, except his one-liners were terrible, even for early-90s standup standards:

“I was watching America’s Most Wanted, and suddenly my Dad got up, turned the channel, shaved his beard off.”

Because his dad was on the show, GEDDIT? That’s a semi-decent set-up, but with no follow-up whatsoever. Unless you count constant mumbling and vamping as a punchline. The audience seems to, as they laughed heartily the entire time. Though that might have been because they’d long surpassed the club’s five-drink minimum.

“Ah’m gunnin’ fer the ‘every drop o’ alcohol in the joint’ maximum.”

It never gets better. At one point he throws out, “I was down in Florida with Mom and her lesbian lover Frida.” That’s the joke. She’s a mom, but she has a girlfriend. The crowd, naturally, laughs along merrily, because they’re just as bad as he is. At least this time he includes a follow-up joke … kind of. “Nah, I’m kidding, she’s got a lot of partners.” And I’ll bet they’re all women too, right? Cuz that’s just ZANY.

The stupidity never, ever ends. He went fishing and caught a Cuban. His friend played Monopoly and put up crack houses. A girl picks him up at a bar and he told her “put me down.” His cab driver was named Bahb. His dad called him fatso and made oinky noises at him. This line, verbatim: “I went to a Jehovah’s Witness funeral the other day. I didn’t want to go but they came to my door.”


At one point, he mentions his friend joined a Jewish gang that caters other gangs’ fights. Because Jewish people cater apparently? Either I completely missed that stereotype, or Whitney was literally inventing new ones as he went along. Talk about lazy writing — you could say just about anything with that approach. “I ran into an old Chinese woman and she did the craziest thing: a backflip!”

Later, he jokes that he broke his ankle while playing Nintendo basketball. In the hands of a decent comic, that could be a damn funny premise. Dan’s version? “I broke my ankle in three places playing basketball, o ho Nintendo. And uh, that really stinks.” That’s all. That “o ho” was designed to let his adoring public know that a killer punchline was on the way. It lied. Which really stinks.

Besides, only a first-generation X-Box could ever hope to break bones like that.

Also, it’s not just his words that suck. True, on their own, they’re are less funny than puppies abandoned under a bridge. But his delivery makes it thrice as bad. He laughs at his own jokes, umms and ahhs like a kid desperately lying his way out of a punishment, grasps the microphone stand like it’ll explode if he lets go, and spends half his set delivering dumbass filler lines like “yeah, so that was weird” and “you know, it’s just kinda, you know” and “anyway,” all of which are universal codes for “that sucked, moving on.”

Watching this video was the longest seven minutes of my life. My sincere hope is that you click on it and make it the longest seven minutes of yours as well.

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