Ron White is at his best when doing stand-up

Ron White might change his drink, but he doesn’t dilute his image.

The Mirage regular doesn’t have a “Celebrity Apprentice” in his closet. And forget about “Dancing With the Stars.”

“Not unless something went horribly wrong,” he says. He’s always being offered TV talent contests or game shows, White says, and he tells them, “Look what I’m doing. I’m not going to quit doing that to do some cheesy thing that’s going to water down my brand.”

A guest part in Cameron Crowe’s Showtime series “Roadies” was a rare side venture for the Texas comic who does his stand-up with a highball glass in one hand and a cigar in the other, and who notched 112 dates last year.

But the brief acting gig also reminded him, “I’m a better comedian when I’m only doing stand-up,” he says. “I think I just made a bigger commitment to my art form. Instead of meddling in some other stuff that I’m mediocre at, go back to what I’m good at and just do that, and concentrate on it more.”

We’ve never seen White in a sitcom, he notes. “You don’t think I’ve been offered 80 of them? I’ve just got this deal with my fans,” he explains. He doesn’t drag them into side ventures “just so I can make some extra money. I think that’s why I’m still selling out all these big theaters, because they trust me.”

The 60-year-old comic is also standing outside the political divide. Part of it goes back to that stand-up integrity.

“I don’t get my stand-up from the television,” he says. “And the reason I don’t is because every talk show has 25 writers staring at the same television, all hashin’ through the same stuff.

“If that’s where I rely on getting my comedy, then I’m a hack. Not that they’re hacks, but if you want to be a big boy, then you’ve got to get it from within.”


 

White also realized last year his fan base was “split right down the middle” between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. One guy at a VIP meet-and-greet overheard a question from the person ahead in line, “and you could tell by the answer I was not pro-Trump.”

The guy decided he didn’t want his picture taken with anyone who wasn’t for Trump, White says, and “we showed him the door.”

“But that shows how volatile it is,” he adds. “He came to see me, pays to be in a VIP program. But if I don’t match his political views, he’s going to get huffy and make a scene.

“I decided just to shut up and sing. Everybody was tense. They still are. And I decided to go up there and just make them laugh hard. Which is what I do, which is what they pay me to do, and not get up there and start spewing out my political views and trying to change people’s minds. It’s not my job, and who the hell am I?”

White did change his mind on his drink of choice when he and his brother-in-law, comedian and frequent opening act Alex Reymundo, went into the tequila business with their Number Juan Tequila.

“Now it’s the only thing I drink, period. I don’t even drink Scotch. They had to take a truck off the route,” White jokes. “Scotch tastes like a shoe, and I drank it for 25 years. I drank a lot of it, too.

“My wife will tell you, late at night I was starting to get a little morose.”

White returns to Las Vegas one week after a Willie Nelson promotional appearance for Willie’s Reserve signature marijuana underscored the new frontier opened by Nevada’s legalization of recreational pot.

Could White’s next branding venture be far behind?

“I’m already kind of in the weed business anyway as an investor in big grow rooms in Canada,” he says. “It’s a big cash crop, sells for $400 an ounce, so you want to get in that business before you get in the corn business.

“If it doesn’t make sense for you, don’t do it,” he says of marijuana. “But it does make sense for me. It keeps me from eating handfuls of pills and trying to keep my weird brain in check. It’s just better for me than what I was doing before.”

But when it comes to a celebrity endorsement, “Cheech, Willie and Snoop Dogg have me beat real bad,” White says. “I think I’m in a distant fourth.”

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

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