Jesus, can it be true? Is Jeff Foxworthy really the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time? If so, it is truly a prophecy of the Apocalypse! Our economy will collapse, earthquakes will shatter the continents, tidal waves will sweep us away, locusts and frogs will rain from the sky, volcanoes will darken the skies with ash…and I will vote Republican. We are truly lost.
But Foxworthy’s astounding album sales are undeniable. His 1993 debut You Might Be a Redneck If… went multiplatinum, and the release of last year’s Have Your Loved Ones Spayed or Neutered pushed his total album sales above 15 million. His greatest-hits disc is currently No. 3 on the comedy charts. Not bad for a performer whose eponymous sitcom flopped in 1997.
How has Foxworthy managed to outsell such legends as Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bill Cosby? Much of the comic’s success is due to his marketing team’s early masterstroke: In the early 1990s, when stand-up comedians’ albums weren’t selling, Foxworthy’s people packaged him as a sort of spoken-word country artist instead.
Seriously, though…Jeff Foxworthy, the one-trick-pony of comedy whose sole joke formula consists of “If ___________, you might be redneck”? God help us. There are far funnier people out there, but when you’re marketing yourself to middle-American simple folk (and encouraging record stores to “misfile” your albums in the Country section), I suppose it’s easier to sell albums. Personally I’d like to lock him in a room for a few minutes with Bill Hicks or George Carlin (or even Margaret Cho) and see how many redneck jokes he can spit out before one of them sends him whimpering back to the trailer park. But that’s just me… 🙂