With a little help from his friends — Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy included — comedian Reno Collier is quickly climbing his way to the top of the next generation of blue collar comedy stars.
After humbly starting his stand-up career one night at an open mic at Atlanta’s Punchline comedy club, comedian Reno Collier has, to say the least, found much success.
He had his own Comedy Central Presents special in 2005, has toured for years alongside stand-up veterans like Jeff Foxworthy and Ron White; he’s opening for Larry the Cable Guy on a national tour through May 17.
And now, along with up and coming comedians John Caparulo, Jamie Kaler and Juston McKinney, Collier is a large part of Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation tour; an album featuring the four comics as well as Bill Engvall was recently released. An accompanying DVD is set to come out May 20.
Punchline Magazine recently spoke with the West Virginia native about his new project, his former life as a gym teacher, and, of course, economic stimulus packages.
What was it like being apart of the next generation of Blue Collar comedy tour?
It was fun. It was kind of weird. I’d been out over the past few years with Foxworthy, Ron White, and Bill Engvall, and then just over the past year and a half I’ve been out with Larry Cable Guy, it was kind of an odd set up. You never know what it’s going to be like.
I’ve seen first hand the gagillion tickets those guys sell and we just say, “Wow, well we’ll do our best.” But it was kind of off too you know? It was really cool to be chosen to be a part of it and I’ve known Bill forever so it was fun but it was kind of odd too.
The original Blue Collar Comedy Tours were amazingly popular. Is the Next Generation tour attempting to achieve similar success– or are the goals more modest?
We’re still going out on dates. We did Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta. Obviously, the original Blue Collar guys were doing like eight thousand people a show and in Atlanta we did like 3,300.
That’s still a huge show.
It’s really big and we’re trying, but no one’s really looking. I mean, nobody can compete with what they did. We’re just going to do our thing and hope that it catches on.
Don’t you think that having shows in Atlanta and Phoenix of that size help break the myth that the Blue Collar Comedy thing is only popular in the South?
Yeah, it’s weird though too. When I’m on the road with Cable Guy, we go to like Canada and there are people that show up with flannel shirts with the arms cut off. It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable. It would be like if guys were getting chubby and showing up to my show. ‘Hey man, we’ve been over eating and drinking beer for like four weeks straight because we wanna look just like you!’
I have to confess to you that I used your fantasy football team name idea of “Off Constantly” at my work, so that when I lost, I could say that my boss beat “Off Constantly” over weekend. But I totally didn’t give you any credit.
Dude, I’ve been out in comedy clubs like in Columbus, OH and the company that makes the shirts for me will send like three boxes of shirts. I had two softball teams come in and buy me out. They were like, ‘Man! We’ve got 22 players on our teams and we’ve all got to have one of those shirts.’I try to be honest with them you know. I realize they have a few beers in them and I tell them,’ Hey, you can’t really all where these shirts. They’re all number 07 on the back.’
You used to be a gym teacher. Do you ever miss it?
When I as kid, I loved playing little league and then I played baseball in high school and college. Then I got involved in some community service. I got in trouble actually– not big trouble but enough where you end up with like 40 community service hours. So I did a bunch of community service stuff coaching little league teams in North Carolina around our college.
I just happened to walk into this school and one morning the previous gym teacher got fired. So it was kind of like, ‘We’ll try this guy out and see how it goes. Until we find somebody else.’ So they hired me on that basis.
That’s comforting. ‘You are literally the only option we have, so we’re going to hire you.’
Right. That became clear when I left. I had taught for two summer schools and when I left I said, ‘You guys, listen. I think I want to be a stand-up comedian.’ They were like, ‘bye.’ I mean what about like in The Firm when the teacher left and they drew a map and were like, ‘This is where he’s going,’ Nothing like that? No keg? I don’t get shit, just a, ‘Bon voyage, Sweaty.’
Sounds like a good experience though.
I loved it. It was an international school, so it was basically breaking the kids out, you know, to come have fun. So we were playing dodgeball and softball.
If you’re going to teach kids, that seems like the best way. Forget about books.
Right, absolutely, and that was a problem because I’d say to them, ‘Look, man. We’re just playing games.’ And they’re trying to take notes. They were like in the fourth grade. They’d be saying, ‘No, wait. The intricacies of the game. . .’ And for a lot of them, English was a second language. They’d take a class for English and then the next class they took would be for Japanese.
Ok, let’s move on to something important, like economic stimulus packages. How will you stimulate the economy with your $600?
I wouldn’t buy gold no matter what the English lady on TV tells me. The first thing I’d do, is blow up OPEC. Every time we lower interest rates, oil goes up. It’s like, ‘Hey here you go. We have this great stimulus package!’
Then all of a sudden oil is like $106 [per barrel]. You know what else I’d do with $600 bucks? I’d buy a bike and then anytime somebody wanted me to do work, I’d say, ‘Look, man. You fill up my truck with gas or its going to take me like three hours to get there.’
Last question. Brad Pitt or Vince Vaughn?
Oooh, I was looking for Jennifer Aniston.
I was just saying Vince Vaughn because he was the last person to tag Jennifer Aniston. I didn’t know you meant which one did I want.
For more info, check out renocollier.com.