It’s always a treat to speak with comic-television host-author Jeff Foxworthy. The metro Atlanta husband and dad stays busy with various projects, from hosting “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” to reprising the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” with Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy (original member Ron White is onto other things).
We spoke with Foxworthy the other day regarding yet another project of his, a new book called “Hide!” It’s a delightful children’s book with charming illustrations by Steve Bjorkman. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Buzz: Why children’s books? (Foxworthy has written two others, “Dirt on My Shirt” and “Silly Street.”
Jeff Foxworthy: When my girls were little I was always coming up with silly little rhymes and things. I always read to them. That was something my grandmother instilled in me. She wasn’t educated. She lived in a trailer, but it was full of books.
Buzz: This seems like a way to engage a new generation of fans.
JF: With ‘Smarter than a 5th Grader,’ suddenly kids knew who I was. Every writer has things in the back of their mind and for me it was, ‘I know, I’ll write a children’s book!’
I thought it’d be easy. I sat down, and then I realized, no wonder Dr. Seuss was a big deal. This is hard!
Buzz: Talk about “Hide!”
JF: It’s sort of like “Where’s Waldo.” There’s things to look for on each page. (A raccoon, flip flops, mops, bugs and spoons, for example). Even in this age of video games and electronics, some things don’t change. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like Hide and Go Seek. It’s just a fun little book. When you’re young, that’s what a book should be to a kid – it should be fun.
Buzz: It sounds like it was fun to write, too.
JF: Most comics are writers. It’s brilliant in its simplicity. I feel funny for the first time in years!
Buzz: When doctors go to cocktail parties people always want to discuss their ailments for instant diagnoses. When you’re at cocktail parties, do people expect an instant mini-performance from you?
JF: Everyone wants to tell me a joke! Most of them are so dirty you couldn’t tell them in a truck stop. The truckers would be like, hey, there’s mechanics in here!
Buzz: How has your comedy changed over the years?
JF: When we were getting ready to do Blue Collar again, Bill Engvall and I were talking about what each of us was writing about. We both had colonoscopy jokes. I had one, it was a true story. That stuff they tell you to drink? I didn’t follow the instructions and I drank it all in eight minutes. My stomach started making this noise like the fireplace in ‘Amityville Horror,’ and my underwear tapped me on the shoulder and told me to RUN. Isn’t that something? Years ago we were writing jokes about picking up hot chicks, and now we’re writing about our colonoscopies!
Buzz: I know you’re also involved in a good bit of mission-based charity work. Talk a little about that.
JF: I don’t do it for the press. Every Tuesday morning, about 5:30 a.m. I get a load of biscuits and head down to the Atlanta Union Mission and hold sort of a small group with the men there.
Buzz: Do they know who you are?
JF: Some of them. At first (the shelter organizers) said, ‘they don’t think you’re coming back.’ Now they know that someone cares. There’s a time for everything, a time to laugh a time to cry. I try to balance everything, which I think is the secret to life. You don’t appreciate the fullness of life until you give some of yours away.