Foxworthy's Best Season Yet
The easygoing, country-flavored comedian is enjoying his biggest television hit to date with the FOX quiz show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" In addition to his now-regular duties on that series Thursday, April 19, Foxworthy returns for his third consecutive year as host of Country Music Television's CMT Music Awards, Monday, April 16.
"Who knew?" Foxworthy says about his success in presiding over "Smarter," which lets adult contestants seek children's help in answering questions. "A number of weeks ago, [producer] Mark Burnett called me, and I wasn't even thinking about doing another TV show. I was happy doing my country countdown radio show and my stand-up and my books, and taking my kids to school and working on my farm."
Since then, Foxworthy has been commuting between his Atlanta home and Los Angeles for "Smarter" tapings, and FOX has gained one of its best-rated shows since "American Idol" (which the network smartly used to help launch "Smarter"). "I don't think I've ever done anything that has such appeal across the board," Foxworthy reflects. "Everywhere I go now, people yell out to me."
Creatively, the show is a walk in the park for Foxworthy: "I don't have to memorize a thing. I'm just out there improv-ing my way through it -- but it's fun. In my mind, it's me and the kids vs. 'them.' Even if you win, you're beating 10-year-olds, so you can't really gloat about it."
Conversely, the winners of the 2007 CMT Music Awards will have much to boast about. Kenny Chesney, the Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland and Carrie Underwood have three nominations each; this year's Johnny Cash Visionary Award goes to Kris Kristofferson, a close friend of late country legend Cash.
"My wife thinks I'm an idiot," Foxworthy allows. "She says, 'When you're hosting an award show, the only thing that can possibly happen is something bad. If you do it good, nobody really notices.' As a comic, though, you like that fear of walking the tightrope. That's the nature of the job, so when you have a show that has to fit into a certain time and go smoothly, it's just a real satisfying feeling when it all comes together."
Foxworthy also is comfortable with the talents he's among during the event. "Country music artists don't take themselves too seriously. It's like catching up with old friends, showing each other pictures of your kids backstage. They're relaxed, and that relaxes you. I think we all realize we're two decisions away from cleaning gutters, so we're just real thankful to be there."