Daniel Whitney has built a career on his “awe-shucks” country alter-ego Larry the Cable Guy. He is so convincing onstage that people assume Whitney is Larry. But Whitney, a former drama and speech major in college, is much less exaggerated than his onstage persona.
I think it’s really interesting to hear Whitney’s true voice. He is a private person who’s income depends on a believable persona. It is rare and interesting to peel the curtain back on the man behind the character.
The interview reveals the thought behind Larry the Cable Guy. Whitney describes himself as a “linguistic chameleon” and finds that he tunes into the accents of those around him, whether they are from the mid-west or the deep south. That ear for accents helps him understand the people around him and connect. Psychologists find that many people subconsciously do this as a means of empathy. Whitney uses it for comedy.
Some people feel that his comedy makes fun of country people, but that is the far from his intention. He isn’t mocking country people, but creating a big persona that allows his comedy to land better. If he were a Brooklyn hipster, it could be offensive, but he is doing accents like we all do while telling stories.