Most casual fans assume Ron White wasn’t truly successful until he toured alongside such comedic heavyweights as Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy some 15 years ago as a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. This is true to an extent, in that the tour – which raked in millions of dollars and spawned three films – transitioned White from working comedian to full-fledged comedic superstar.
Turns out, however, that White already considered himself a success – financially and otherwise – before Blue Collar upped his standing, and there is a simple reason for that.
“Well, I wasn’t paying my taxes, so it seemed like I was making more than I actually was,” White quipped during a recent phone interview. “As an independent contractor, people said I should file my taxes quarterly. Turns out, that means I was supposed to file them every few months; I thought that meant every 25 years.”
And therein lies the appeal of Ron White, who headlines a show at Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land on Saturday night. In addition to being a grade-A smartass (this is a compliment) and master of wit and candor, White’s ability to weave personal tales of fame and woe into his set makes him relatable, despite his celebrity standing.
He talks of divorce, alcohol, good times and bad. White’s set, in essence, is simply White’s life story as told by the man himself. If anything, White is thankful he experienced breakout success at a relatively older age, as doing so any sooner might have yielded unfortunate results.
“I didn’t have any sense when I was younger, not that I have much now, but when I was younger, I was nuts,” White said. “The last thing I needed was a bunch of money to fund that trainwreck. It happened when it happened, but it did happen.”
There were plenty of stops along the way. White, who hails from Amarillo but spent much of his upbringing in Deer Park, joined the Navy as soon as he was legally able. From there, he sold windows and doors until a friend encouraged him to try his hand at an open mike comedy night. After his first-ever set, that friend confided in White that he was the funniest person who took the stage that night.
The date was September 17, 1986, and White bills it as the day “I found out who I was.”
More than 30 years later, White has graduated from a struggling comedian working any club possible to a working comedian in somewhat high demand to a stand-up star who will likely sell out Smart Financial Centre this weekend. Not that White has let success breed complacency.
White, who splits his time between homes in Austin and Beverly Hills, works three cities a week, then flies back to California and works up to six short sets a night in places like the famed Comedy Store. Part of this schedule lies in White’s renowned work ethic, but more so in his love of stand-up comedy.
“It’s just fun to do, and it’s who I am,” he said. “If you want to get me in a bad mood, take the stage away from me for a little while. That’s the coolest thing about my career – I’m respected by my peers, and I put in the work.”
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Now, in light of current events, some may view White as in a somewhat precarious position as it pertains to his set. Considering anything Trump moves the comedic needle these days, and considering a decent portion of White’s blue collar crowd likely backs the President, how does White balance current events versus satisfying the audience?
In short, he doesn’t.
“Politics is not even one of my topics,” he said. “My stand-up doesn’t come from television, and you won’t find newsy or political type of stuff. The only bit you’ll hear about is the time I ran for President on a different kind of platform. Some people want to build a wall in Mexico, but I wanted to build one between the U.S. and Canada, mostly to keep the fucking geese out.”
White's performance is scheduled for April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington, Sugar Land. For more information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $39.50-$75.