If your kid tells you they want to be a comedian when they grow up, you’d not be alone in being a little concerned. After all, how many people manage to make a living from telling jokes? Before you despair entirely, however, consider the case of Jeff Foxworthy. He may have started his career with IBM, but for the best part of the last four decades, he’s been touting his wares in comedy clubs up and down the land- and the results speak for themselves. According to the latest information on Celebrity Net Worth, the comedian is currently worth a jaw-dropping $100 million…. not bad for a college drop-out.
It Started with a Dare
Some kids grow up knowing exactly what they want from life. No sooner has school ended, then they’re busy plowing away at the very same industry they’ll spend the rest of their lives in. Not so Foxworthy. After graduating from Hapeville High School, the Atlanta native enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Finding that college life didn’t suit him, Foxworthy dropped out of school before graduating and soon found employment at IBM. For the next five years, he worked on computer mainframe- a world away from the comedy clubs where he’d eventually make his fortune. Finally, his friends and colleagues at IBM grew so tired of being the sole audience for Foxworthy’s jokes, they dared him to enter the Great Southeastern Laugh-off at Atlanta's Punchline comedy club in 1984. Foxworthy stole the show (not to mention the crown), and with that, his career was off.
You Might Be A Redneck If…
After starting his career by focusing on observational humor about his family, Foxworthy hit the jackpot with his “You might be a redneck if…” one-liners. Granted, few would claim his is a sophisticated or urbane routine, but for those who favor a traditional kind of humor, the proclaimed “godfather of blue-collar comedy’ can’t be beaten. In the 2000s, Foxworthy teamed up with fellow comedians Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, and Bill Engvall (all known for their similar style of “common-man” comedy) for the Blue-Collar Comedy Tour. The tour was a roaring success, selling out across the country and lasting a further three years.
The Blue-Collar Comedy Tour did more than just pack out arenas. By that point, Foxworthy had broadened the scope of his career to include writing, hosting, and recording: with the resurgence of interest generated by the sell-out tour, his books started flying off the shelves, his albums shifted ever-growing number of copies, and a total of three networks (The WB Television Network, Comedy Central, and Comedy Network) bought into his new TV show, Blue Collar TV.
Bestselling Comedy-Recording Artist in History
His album sales may not be in the same region as Elvis Presley’s, but looking purely at comedy albums, Foxworthy’s managed to shift more units than any other comedy-recording artist in history. He began his series of success with 4 albums in the 1990s: You Might Be a Redneck If… (certified 3x Platinum), Games Rednecks Play (certified 3× Platinum), Crank It Up: The Music Album (certified Platinum) and Totally Committed (certified Gold).
The 2000s saw a continuation of Foxworthy’s achievements- and album sales. Big Funny (2000) peaked at number 15 in the US country charts, Have Your Loved Ones Spayed or Neutered reached number 7, and Them Idiots: Whirled Tour managed to reach number 1 in the US comedy charts. In addition to the best-selling studio albums, the comedian has enjoyed huge profits from his numerous compilation albums, box sets, and singles, including the Christmas track, Redneck 12 Days of Christmas, which managed to score an entry on the US Country Charts every year between 1995 and 1999.
No matter how big the crowds, you don’t earn $100 million just by performing in comedy clubs. As astute a businessman as he is a talented performer, Foxworthy has made his fortune by capitalizing on every ounce of talent and fame at his disposal…. and that means making TV appearances. Lots and lots of TV appearances. In 1995, he started his TV career with the short-lived sitcom The Jeff Foxworthy Show. He’s since appeared in a clutch of shows, hosting everything from the TNN Music City News Country Awards, Are You Smarter than A 5th Grader? and The Bucks of Tecomate to The American Bible Challenge and The American Baking Competition. Since 2019, he’s also acted as a judge on NBC's comedy competition series, Bring the Funny.
Since starting his career, Foxworthy has published 26 bestselling books, including:
- Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary: Words You Thought You Knew the Meaning Of (2005)
- Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary II: More Words You Thought You Knew the Meaning Of (2006)
- Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary III: Learning to Talk More Gooder Fastly (2007)
- Rednecks in College
- How to Really Stink at Golf (2008)
- How to Really Stink at Work, A Guide to Making Yourself Fire-Proof While Having the Most Fun Possible (2009)
Not only have the books managed to shift enough units to prop up Foxworthy’s already groaning bank account, they’ve also helped bring his work to a whole new audience, thanks to the three children’s books (Dirt on My Shirt (2008), Silly Street (2009), and Hide!!! (2010)) he’s released alongside illustrator Steve Bjorkman.
Foxworthy hasn’t restricted his talents (nor his money-making ways) to TV and books. The radio waves have also played host to his particular brand of comedy, starting with The Foxworthy Countdown in 1999 and ending with Jeff & Larry's Comedy Roundup in 2015.
As well as having a score of best-selling books, Grammy award nominations, and successful TV shows to his name, Foxworthy is also the proud owner of a popular line of outdoor gear. In 2011, the comedian diversified his portfolio to include Foxworthy Outdoors, a range of Foxworthy brand hunting and outdoor products sold online. The site also hosts Jeff Foxworthy: Inside & Out, a web series featuring Foxworthy and Friends discussing their hunting trips and adventures in the great outdoors.
So, how exactly did Foxworthy makes that massive fortune? Simply put, by finding his talent and then milking it for all it was worth. His comedy may be gloriously unsophisticated, but there’s nothing unworldly about his talent for spinning a dime.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee