If you read Noel Murray’s recent interview with Dan Whitney, a.k.a. Larry The Cable Guy (and you should!), chances are you were left with a few lingering questions, like: “While Whitney seems like a nice and smartly self-aware man, which always makes it difficult to begrudge someone their success, does he truly believe that most of the criticism about his comedy has to do with the fact that he’s mocking his audience, rather than pandering to and reaffirming its worst attributes?” Or, “Is the argument that, ‘well, I’ve made a lot of money, therefore your criticism of Cars 2 is stupid’ really a valid defense, or just sort of childish? And of course, “Mmm, maple syrup. Where can I get some?”
In fact, many of you posed some of these in the comments, as is your wont. And not surprisingly, one of the responses that came up most frequently concerned David Cross’ “An Open Letter To Larry The Cable Guy,” the web-famous last volley in a briefly public though ostensibly still-burning feud between the two comics and, to a certain extent, what many people see as opposing sides of comedy’s ideological divide. If you’re not familiar with the letter, you can read it here—or if you’re feeling lazy, listen to Cross read it himself below:
As we said, Cross’ response was more or less the last word in their back-and-forth—and arguably the one that got most the attention—and judging by the comments, many people have remained curious about whether Whitney ever read it, or what he thought of it if he did. Our regular contributor Will Harris certainly was, so he brought it up to Whitney during an interview for The Virginian-Pilot, which he has since posted as an addendum on his personal blog.
As it turns out, Whitney did read it and, not surprisingly, he’s responded in a fairly similar fashion to the way he answered Noel’s original questions. Which is to say, he sort of shrugged off Cross’ criticisms—such as suggesting that Cross’ just assumes he’s racist because he doesn’t like his style of comedy, rather than addressing the specific examples of his racist jokes in Cross’ letter—and above all, chalking up Cross’ challenges to professional jealousy:
“If people think what I do is so bad, I don’t understand why they always use me to jump-start their struggling careers….. Mind your own business! If most comedians spent more time working on their act and trying to figure out how to get popular like the comedians who are popular, maybe they’d be popular, too… Whenever people ask me about the whole David Cross thing, I literally just blow it off, because it just doesn’t mean anything to me. To me, it just seems like, ‘Here’s another bitter comic that’s angry at someone else’s success.’ To me, it’s very open-mic-ish."
To that end, Whitney also addresses the oft-made argument that, if Bill Hicks were still alive, he would detest the likes of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and the humor of people such as Jeff Foxworthy. Whitney replies that, in fact, Hicks was a huge fan of Foxworthy’s, relating an anecdote about the time he witnessed Hicks tell Foxworthy that he had cancer, and even saying that he once saw Hicks go up to Carrot Top and tell him, “Some of those things you create are genius.” “People who run their mouth off about people they’ve never even met, saying, ‘This is what he would think,’ are way off-base,” Whitney concludes.
And speaking of “open mic,” Whitney says a lot of the reason he felt compelled to say anything about any of this actually had a lot to do with you, The A.V. Club commenters:
“Earlier on my career, I used to read stuff, and it would get me irritated, and I’m, like, ‘Man, I’m just doing comedy! I don’t get it! I’ve got friends!’ And the other I get, especially now that I’ve got kids, it’s just, like, ‘It’s not even worth it.’ The only reason I bring it up now is that somebody sent me a Tweet about that article on [The A.V. Club], and…. I liked the article. I was open and candid with [Murray], and I was forthright, and the only reason I read it was because I wanted to see how it turned out.
But I get to the bottom and I see a comment, so I said, ‘I wonder what the comment is.’ And then I start reading a couple of them. After reading about 16 of ‘em, I was, like, ‘You know what? Why have I done this? I haven’t done this in about three-and-a-half years.’ But I got sucked in… Believe me, I didn’t even think about [Cross’ letter] until the other day, when somebody brought it up on the comments, and then you brought it up before. Before that, I literally haven’t thought about it since it happened.”
Again, you can read the entire interview here, where he also talks about how Rosie O’Donnell is a “complete bitch,” numbers Louis C.K. and Chris Rock among his fans, then explains why he agreed to do an A.V. Club interview in the first place, even though he knows “they’re obviously not fans of mine.” And remember, whenever you comment: Larry The Cable Guy might be reading.