Ron White (Cobb Energy April 8) talks ‘Roadies,’ tequila, daily need to do stand up

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 14: Comedian Ron White attends the 10th anniversary celebration of “The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil” at The Mirage Hotel & Casino on July 14, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Cirque du Soleil)

This was posted Monday, April 3, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

While some people exercise or meditate daily, part-time Suwanee resident Ron White needs his fix daily cracking jokes on a public stage.

He does dates in 110 different cities a year and even on his off days, he works on material at local clubs. He hangs out often at the Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store while staying in Los Angeles and the Punchline and Laughing Skull while in metro Atlanta.

“Most of it is my love for the art form,” White said in a recent interview. “It’s fun to do to go to these clubs, to be me. My favorite thing about my career at this point is I’m respected by my peers. I haven’t taken any shortcuts, so I don’t have to hide.”

He’ll be making his bi-annual visit to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Saturday night, April 8 for two shows. (Tickets here.)

Hanging with other comics helps keep him up to date on the younger generation of comics. He is now friends with up-and-coming stars such as Sebastain Maniscalco, Iliza Schlesinger and Ali Wong (coming to the Tabernacle May 12.). “When I first met them, I’d give them encouraging words,” he said. “Then I found out they’re doing the same rooms I am, which is kind of funny.” So he went and watched their Netflix specials.

He said Wong has gained even greater confidence since her Netflix special. “As a comic, I can tell the difference,” he said. “She’s hanging on the punchlines better. She’s truly gifted.”

Here are other topics we addressed:

Why he avoids politics in his shows: “Every talk show on TV has 20 writers staring at the television. My shows have never been political. Even during the election, I chose to stay out of it. I thought people could use a laugh, which is what they pay me to do. I just go up there and gut ’em. That’s what they need. I don’t want applause. I want gut-level laughter.”

The challenges of testing jokes in small clubs: “You need to throw yourself in uncomfortable situations. In clubs, 70 percent of them have no idea who I am, so they cut me no breaks, especially at the Comedy Store. The lineup is usually so good, you can’t go up and piddle. Theaters (packed with his fans) are easy and fun. I just get to go in and wallow in it.”

His drinking options: Once an inveterate scotch drinker, he is now an advocate of tequila, mostly his own brand Number Juan Tequila. And surprise! “I drink a lot of red wine. I’m a little more versatile than my fans think.”

Cleaning up his act? “My ex-wife came out to a show three weeks ago. I hadn’t seen her in 10 years. I talked to her afterwards. She said she was surprised how clean it was. I don’t write dirty for dirty’s sake or clean for clean’s sake. I guess I’m a little cleaner, but I still wouldn’t recommend bringing your Christian grandma.”

No retirement in sight: At age 60, White is not ready to slow down. “My fans are basically baby boomers. As long as they’re interested in what I have to say, I’ll keep doing it. I don’t know what else I’d do anyway, I have friends who have retired. They’ve sold their companies, made a lot of money. They live at the Suwanee River Club. They drink themselves into a hole. They spend all day with their wives and they’re miserable!”

On  playing a road manager on HBO’s now cancelled Cameron Crowe series “Roadies”: “It was a compelling project. I love Cameron Crowe’s work. I had a road manager who was my best friend Steve for 51 years. He was dying of cancer. Playing a road manager wasn’t hard. I’ve been on the road for 30 years. I have a pretty good perspective. But I was thinking of my friend during the first reading. I sobbed for 20 minutes. I hadn’t cried since I heard the news he had cancer. Then the floodgates opened. I played the part with Steve in mind. The cast was a lot of fun. It helped I wasn’t in every episode. It was a pretty enjoyable experience. I was sad when they cancelled it even though my character was dead.”

On his wife and singer Margo Rey: “She’s doing great. She’s recording a Latin jazz album right now with Oscar Hernandez. He’s a three-time Grammy pianist. He’s fun to listen to. He’s at the house going crazy on all these Latin rhythms. Her career is going fine. She’s opening my shows at Cobb. She’ll do five or six songs.”

COMEDY PREVIEW

Ron White. 7 and 10 p.m. April 8. $55-$68. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800, www.cobbenergycentre.com.

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