“Redneck” and “New York Times best-selling author” don’t usually meet in the same sentence, unless you’re comedian Jeff Foxworthy.
Known as the best comedy recording artist of all time, Foxworthy is a devoted dad to two daughters, and a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour starring Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and Ron White.
Hide!!!, is his third children’s book, and uses hilarious rhyming prose to reveal an engaging tale of the neighborhood gang headed out to enjoy an exciting game of hide-and-seek.Along the way, readers are invited to join in the fun and find an ever-growing list of kids, animals, and silly things.
Foxworthy and I sat down and talked candidly about what inspires him to write, and why family is so important.
Your wit and humor has often been likened to Mark Twain’s. Do you think you fit the comparison?
Well, to even be compared to Twain is humbling because I think he is one of America’s great humorists. I think we are alike in that in addition to being funny, we both have a serious side. Family and country are very important to me as I think they were to him, and like him, I don’t take myself too seriously.
What inspired you to write a children’s book?
When my daughters were little, I always made up silly songs, poems and stories just to make them laugh, so the idea of a children’s book was always in the back of my mind.
When I started hosting Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader, suddenly every kid knew who I was. My daughters said, ‘If you are ever going to write a children’s book, now’s the time.’
It was more difficult than I imagined it would be. I had to make myself five years old again and write about the things that young kids think about. The fact that the first book, Dirt On My Shirt, stayed on the New York Times Bestseller list for almost six months straight is something that I’m really proud of.
Did you test out early editions on your daughters? Their reactions?
Yeah, I have always tried out everything on my family first. With the children’s books, I let the girls tell me what they liked and didn’t like as I was working on it. When I got the first copy of each one I would lie in their beads and read it to them. Its kind of become a tradition.
Are your girls your biggest fans or your biggest critics?
It used to be easy talking about them when they were little because they didn’t realize it was going on. Now that they’re both teenagers that has changed. Now I seem to be good at embarrassing them.
A couple of years ago, I was hosting the CMT Awards and had to open the show the show dancing with Lisa Rinna. They had me in a red shirt slit to the navel, tight pants and flamenco boots. The dance was wild and ended with me sliding between her legs and announcing the start of the show.
Later that night when I got back to the hotel, I was checking messages on my phone and the first one was my girls saying, ‘Dad! Quite doing stuff like that! We have to go to school tomorrow!’
What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever gotten?
One of my best friends told me when they were babies that it’s harder to be a good parent than a bad one. Having grown up with divorced parents, I swore early on my kids would never know what that felt like. My wife and girls have always been my priority.
I left Los Angeles and moved back home close to family in Atlanta over 13 years ago. I have taken the girls to school almost every day since. I have turned down shows and movies because if would cost me too much time away from them. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt what they mean to me.
What has surprised you most about fatherhood?
How much you have the capability of loving someone else. My girls are like my heart walking around outside my body. By the day sometimes it goes by slow, but by the year it goes in the blink of any eye. Don’t take your time together for granted. These are the times that make life have purpose.