As a southerner born and bred, I often get more insulted by non-southerners' sensitivity to redneck stereotypes than I do by the stereotypes themselves. It's just so condescending, as though these cultural guardians are trying to protect me and mine from our own simplicity–like we're too dumb to get a joke at our own expense. Who do these folks think buys all the Jeff Foxworthy albums, anyway? Personally, I'm not the least bit bothered by hicksploitation, so long as it's funny. And my problem with Larry The Cable Guy is that I don't think he's funny.
That said, the man knows how to throw a spectacular. Dig this guest list: Flava Flav, Jim Breuer, George Wallace, Kid Rock, Jeffrey Ross, Penn Gillette, Carrot Top, Jamie Kennedy, Vicki Lawrence (as Mama!), and George Wendt (as Santa!)
But first, a short sketch in which Larry rushes around Las Vegas looking for a new co-host after the guy supposed to play "Winky The Horny Elf" hangs himself. ("Damn it, Ben Kinglsey. That is so unprofessional," Larry grumbles, in a rare amusing line.) So after running through a string of celebrity impersonators, Larry settles on the actual Tony Orlando, who–in a weird conceit that never exactly makes sense–Larry says he's been working with for the last 30 years. He even has a slide show to prove it: Larry and Tony with Dawn. Larry and Tony with David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Larry with a Flock Of Seagulls hairstyle. And so on.
The preliminaries out of the way, Larry takes the stage before a huge roaring Vegas crowd to do his opening monologue. (Sample line: "Why is it they can make underwear you can eat, but not fruitcake?") Next, the ol' Christmas Carol routine. (Joke: Larry is eager to get to Christmas future, where his wife is gone and he'll be alone in a trailer in the desert.) Then, the celebrity roast of Santa Claus. (Joke: Celebrity roasts are mean-spirited, raunchy and kind of racist. Not really a joke: Jim Breuer is no less pathetic now than he was in his SNL days.) Then Larry answers lost letters to Santa. (Sample line: "It's not the reindeer flatulence that's dangerous, it's the jingleberries. That's why I make sure that every night, Mrs. Santa combs out my beard.") Then Kid Rock performs the gospel-tinged southern-rock song "Rock 'N' Roll Jesus." (Observation: Kid Rock can bring it. I'd never want to listen to this song on the radio, but live, it's kind of exciting.) Then Larry writes his annual Christmas letter. (Sample line: "My nephew got in trouble in school for taking Viagra, but he explained to his teachers that it's not a sex thing; he's just really skinny and the boner keeps his pants up.")
Finally, Larry tries to take his annual Christmas picture in front of a nativity scene, but a Buddhist protester insists that he include something Buddhist (so Larry picks a guy in a sumo wrestler outfit) and a Jewish protester insists he include something Jewish (so Larry adds a menorah left over from a Jackie Mason special) and a Mormon protester wants something Mormon (so Larry lets the Mormon and his four wives onstage) and a Tom Cruise impersonator wants Scientology represented (so Larry adds a couple of alien grays) and a GLAAD spokesperson wants a gay presence (or else he'll do something to "rectify" the situation…because "rectify" is a funny word when gay people say it). Then Vicki Lawrence (as Mama!) sings "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Amen and good night.
For all the over-the-top, trying-too-hard crassness, there's a hint–just a hint, mind you–of sweetness to Larry The Cable Guy's Christmas Spectacular, if only in the way Larry calls back to the '70s variety hours that spawned some of the his generation's most fondly remembered holiday specials. But Larry's not exactly a master conceptualizer, and most of the nostalgic elements are more incidental than purposeful. And even they get overwhelmed by the raging tide of not-exactly-Christmassy sex jokes.
Plus, Larry only says "git-r-done" once. C'mon bud, it's the holidays. Why so stingy?
-When Tony Orlando praises Vegas, he says, "In this town the women throw their keys at me, and that's a free shower, baby." For some reason, I don't think he was supposed to emphasize "free."
-Do yourself a favor and go read the Jim Breuer article on Wikipedia. Sample line (all sic): "Jim Breuer is best known for his appearance in the film Half Baked as the character Brian, who, while all the characters were stoners (including the dog and "the guy on the couch"), he was the most fargone of the group." Also (sic again): "Jim is always performing at The Stress Factory Comedy Club in New Brunswick, New Jersey on certain Wednesday nights. On July 17th, at BB Kings, Jim Breuer performed his Brian Johnson signature 'Hokey Pokey' With the actual Brian Johnson from AC/DC. Jim then went on to sing 'Hey, Hey, Who Phoned The Law' right after the two went back and forth singing the Hokey Pokey." (The saddest part of all this? As of this evening, nobody has flagged this article for anything.)
-Another sample monologue joke: "I like my boobs like I like my Christmas trees: narrow at the tip and artificial."
-Two censored lines from the Santa roast:
Mrs. Claus to Santa: "The only healthy thing Santa's ever eaten is me."
Santa to Mrs. Claus: "The tree isn't the only thing that gets a little trim on Christmas Eve."
-Larry has strippers writhing in the aisles, wrapped around the "North Pole." So classy.
-A couple of days ago, it was the Radio City Music Hall's "spectacular." Now Larry's. I'm not sure that word's being used right.