Comedian Ron White is most recognized as the blue collar comic who performs with his signature cigar in one hand and a tumbler of scotch on standby.
So it's hard to imagine the gruff comic coming to the rescue of a high school principal who disagreed with White's famous routine, "You Can't Fix Stupid."
That's precisely what happened in the spring when Marvin Crumb, a high school principal in Georgia, was reassigned by his school district after showing a two-minute bit from White's comedy special at a faculty meeting .
White, who performs Friday night at the Fox Theater Salinas in Salinas, wasn't having it. Upon hearing news of Crumb's reassignment from concerned students on Twitter, he responded by railing against the school district in a nationally televised CNN interview.
"The guy's an educator. He's dedicated his life to teaching the children of Georgia and he's (got a Ph.D.)," White said. "There's no backlog of people we can fire for no reason and act as if they don't exist."
A week after Crumb's reassignment made news, White was scheduled to perform in Georgia. He was prepared to protest, calling for a 1,000 Tater March, a nod to his nickname, Tater Salad.
The sight of 1,000 potato-wielding students and parents descending on city hall was avoided when the school district reinstated Crumb prior to White's appearance.
White was prepared to go all in for Crumb, despite the principal's contrarian stance against White's comedic
"He showed one two-minute bit from "You Can't Fix Stupid," to the faculty. And his position was that I was wrong, that you can fix stupid. So let's go out there and fix some stupid," White said. "It turns out, he's a black guy, and this was in Columbus, Ga., and I guarantee somebody wanted him fired so bad and they were just looking for anything. And they jumped on this and they had Tater Salad jump right on their backs."
When he's not busy riling the Southern masses into pro-education actions, White is busy refining his craft on stage.
A comedian with more than 25 years of experience, White's grizzled tone and blunt delivery belie a veteran comic acumen.
He's always conscious of the timing in his routine, the strategic pauses that are punctuated by his wry use of a custom-made cigar, one of the perks of his fame.
"It's my favorite thing, to me, for being famous," White said in reference to his signature brand of cigar produced exclusively for him by Zino Platinum cigar company.
The cigar box has his face on the cover, while the band carries his signature. He worked with the company on a special tobacco blend. The neat part — they are not on the market.
"I don't sell them. I just smoke them and give them away," White said. "They make me as many as I want. I don't even know why."
White admits that technically, the cigar makes him a prop comic. Not like the clownish stand-up comedian Carrot Top, he's quick to point out.
"It's easier to have something than to just stand there and talk," White said. "I just stand there and talk, but I use the cigar the way George Burns used a cigar, which is a reason to say nothing. Comedy is all about the pause. It's just a great way to do it."
Comedy is his first passion personally and professionally, although he has cropped up in a few movies recently.
He played a Southern lawyer in the commercial vehicle "Sex and the City 2," which he called "the worst movie of all-time." In 2011, he played it straight as a cop in the summer comedy "Horrible Bosses."
White said he'll only do movies when his touring schedule allows, such as his recent turn in the Billy Bob Thornton-directed film "Jayne Mansfield's's Car."
"That was a labor of love," said White of the film, which he shot in Georgia. "Working with Billy Bob was the greatest thing. He's a wonderful, odd fella. Boy does he know how to direct and get the most out of the people he's working with."
White and Bill Bob Thornton hit it off during a Bob Schneider concert in Austin, Texas. Hanging out in Thornton's tour bus, the pair shared beers and stories til the wee hours, preceding a rather important event in White's life.
"The next morning, it was proclaimed to be Ron White Day in the state of Texas. I had to be at the house of representatives at 8 a.m. in a suit and tie," White recalled. "My mother's there. I have a massive hangover. We're kind of late."
Sounds like the kind of stupid thing White would rail on in one of his comic routines. Luckily, he knows a grateful high school principal in Georgia who can help fix that.
What: Comedian Ron White performs in concert
Where: Fox Theater Salinas, Main St., Salinas
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 27
Information: 753-8459, www.foxtheatersalinas.com