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Guffaw Guys

Actually, there was a Dairy Queen. And it was young Larry, who was born Daniel Lawrence Whitney, now 38, who was the raiser of pigs. His father was a high school guidance counselor.

"My dad used to play with the Everly Brothers, the Foggy Mountain Boys. He went to Korea and got saved in a foxhole. He'd play the VFW hall on Saturday nights with drunks yelling at him to play Merle Haggard, and then he'd get up and preach two churches on Sunday morning."


From left, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy, whose (Matthew Staver For The Washington Post)

Offstage and out of the public eye, when Dan Whitney is speaking, he has a light southern accent, a kind of Atlanta twang, like poached catfish with a lemon butter sauce. When Larry the Cable Guy is talking, his drawl is as thick as a ladle of lard gravy on a biscuit.

He goes back and forth between the two. You get used to it.

"It's funny," he says. "When we do the 'Blue Comedy Tour' together," of the four men "I'm the only one not born in the South. I'm from the Midwest. I'm the only one who doesn't have the accent, but I'm the only one who grew up living that farm life, that small-town life."

The only people he does not speak to in southern dialect are his parents. His family moved to West Palm Beach in 1979, when Dan was 15. He says he started to get his accent in Florida, even though West Palm is not known for its drawl.

He attended private Baptist University of America in Macon, Ga., an institution now defunct. His roommates were from Texas and Georgia. "So from that time I could pop the accent on and pop it off. I'm actually more comfortable talking with it. All my friends are real southern. And sometimes you're just a chameleon."

Between his junior and senior years, while he was working as a bellman at the Hyatt Regency in West Palm, his friends persuaded him to perform at an open-mike night at a comedy club.

He never did go back to college.

Up on stage now, Engvall opens his 20-minute set. From backstage, you can hear Engvall's jokes, because he is working a microphone, but you cannot hear the audience. So you cannot hear that during the long pauses, they are laughing their butts off. It's eerie.

Is Larry nervous?

"Nope," he says. Like most professional stand-ups, Larry is constantly on the road.

He pulls out his notes. His set list for 20 minutes goes as follows:

Fat chick.


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