There was a time when Ron White drove to his comedy gigs in a Nissan truck. After two Grammy nominations, a New York Times best-selling book and CD and DVD sales numbering in the millions, he now has a private jet and a fully restored 1956 Corvette with a custom built-in bar and humidor.
As a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, the cigar-smoking, scotch-swilling White quickly became the man known as "Tater Salad" and garnered an intensely loyal following that will be sure to turn out when he visits the State Theatre April 13.
"I didn't see it coming, but the first two DVDs sold 4 million," White says from his home in Atlanta. "I had played small clubs for years. ... It sounded like drudgery, but I embraced it and loved it. I wasn't installing drywall or selling windows, I was a comedian."
Add movie actor to that description. White appears in Billy Bob Thornton's new film Jayne Mansfield's Car along with Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Ray Stevenson and Kevin Bacon.
"I first met Billy Bob at a bar in Austin," White says. "The night before it was Ron White Day in Texas; he and I drank like fish on his bus until about 5:45 a.m. I had to be at the House of Representatives at 8 a.m."
White, who favors Davidoff cigars and Black Grouse scotch, somehow appeared before the legislature on time.
He recently hosted his fifth annual Ron White's Comedy Salute to the Troops in Nashville, but the road is where he spends most of his time. "You know you're traveling too much when you see an airport security sign that says Authorized Personnel and Ron White only."