Jeff Foxworthy (b. 1958)
Foxworthy was born in Hapeville on September 6, 1958, to Carole and Jim Foxworthy. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and went on to work for IBM in Atlanta. One momentous night in 1984, Foxworthy accepted a dare from his coworkers to participate in an open-mike stand-up competition at the city's famed Punch Line comedy club. He won that evening's competition and a few months later fled corporate security for the uncertain path of show business.
Foxworthy spent the next several years on the comedy club circuit, traveling from coast to coast nearly 300 nights a year. He often earned less than $25 a night for his performances, but his reputation grew as he received numerous honors and awards.
After observing a valet parking service at a bowling alley in Michigan, Foxworthy decided that the redneck way of life (which he termed "a glorious absence of sophistication") was not confined to his beloved South. In 1989 Foxworthy's first book, You Might Be a Redneck If . . ., was published. The book's popularity led to several other books on the same subject, which have sold more than a million copies each and generated millions of dollars in merchandise sales. Foxworthy's book No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem! (1996) sold more than half a million copies and spent several months on the New York Times best-seller list.
In 1994 the You Might Be a Redneck If . . . comedy album was released, and sales eventually surpassed 3.5 million, making it the best-selling comedy album of all time. With several other albums, featuring such collaborators as musicians Alan Jackson, Little Texas, and Marty Stuart, and fellow comedian Bill Engvall, Foxworthy's recordings have earned four Grammy Award nominations and some $13 million in sales.
In 1995 The Jeff Foxworthy Show made its debut on ABC-TV. Although the show got off to a good start, it soon fell from favor with fans (and Foxworthy himself) and was canceled, only to be revived the following year by NBC. The second incarnation of the Foxworthy show met a fate similar to that of its predecessor.
Foxworthy hit the radio airwaves in 1999 with The Jeff Foxworthy Countdown, a syndicated program focusing on country music. More than 200 markets carried the popular show, which earned Foxworthy a Country Music Association nomination for Broadcast Personality of the Year in 2001.
While Foxworthy has found success in other ventures, his first love remains performing in front of a live audience. In 2000 Foxworthy launched The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, featuring fellow comics Bill Engvall, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy. The tour—which lasted several years—grossed more than $10 million and spawned a successful album and a feature film release.
Foxworthy has also supported a number of charities and causes, including Duke Children's Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Camp Sunshine, near Rutledge.
Chris Starrs, Athens
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