It was like throwing gasoline on a fire. After 10 years in the clubs, Carrington said his career "blew up in our face." He packs many small halls and averages more than 600 tickets sold per show in spots all over the country. There's a six-seat Lear jet service, a new tour bus he designed and two albums, Hangin' With Rodney and Morning Wood, topping the comedy charts.
With the release of Rodney Carrington Live, he will start playing even larger theatres as his career continues to progress.
"Some people want to make me out to be the devil," he told POLLSTAR, "but I talk about the stuff that I talk about with my buddies on the golf course or at the bar. Nothing I say is anything that anybody hasn't been through or experienced. Otherwise, we wouldn't have the people here that we have. I'm doing something right."
Carrington is a comedian with a Texas accent who is not a "country comedian," drawing as many city slickers as country folk.
The performance is a combination of standup, music and sing-alongs. That's because halfway through a show, he brings out a guitar and, backed by a keyboard player, starts singing, "If you play your cards wrong, you can take me home tonight... "
The voice eerily reminds one of George Jones, who reportedly has worn out Carrington's CDs on his home stereo. Unlike Carrington, though, Jones doesn't have a song called "Titties and Beer."
The strong voice is half the reason it's funny, because it shockingly comes out of nowhere. It's the same voice you'd hear on a honky-tonk jukebox (if you don't catch the juxtaposition of "Grandma" with "bordello") or the CMT television network. Make that Great American Country.
"CMT won't play us because of content," Carrington said. "Not because of the videos but because of my album, which is f***ing stupid because I gave them something they could play."
Obviously, Goldstein couldn't put Carrington on the fair circuit (the manager told POLLSTAR that the comic will not do soft or semi-soft ticket shows). His albums are considered to be the first out of Nashville with parental advisory stickers. Despite the content, Goldstein said there is a significant number of female fans.
While fellow comedy circuit acquaintances like Drew Carey moved to Hollywood, Carrington never wanted to do L.A.'s "dog and pony show." He's right where he's always wanted to be.
It probably won't be long before CMT comes around. "The people who, two or three years ago, would say, 'He's never coming on my show and blah, blah, blah,' now all want you on the show. I always said the more success you have, the less they're going to be able to not pay attention to you. People come to the people who are successful."
Carrington and Goldstein (along with partner Julie Goldstein) built the business with the same simplicity as the contract: Get the music played on various morning radio shows and get the word-of-mouth going. A friend plays a Carrington tune for another friend and it goes on from there.
"It's kind of a Jim Jones thing: Drink your Kool Aid and follow me," Carrington said.
There's no booking agency, and Carrington's people are quick to point out they do not "book" him. Instead, they rent the venues, and radio stations (that often carry the related morning shows) promote.
"When I started doing comedy, I didn't set out to attract a particular audience," Carrington said. "People want to call me a 'country comedian' because the songs have a country flair, but the material transcends that. It goes to regular people. I talk about religion, sex; I don't talk about fried grits or fried chicken or rednecks."
The songs are just a vehicle for the standup, he stressed. He learned to play a couple of chords out of boredom. To put that in perspective, he also casually mentioned he shot par golf that morning.
Goldstein and comedian friend Barry Martin had no problem acknowledging Carrington's talent. It was all part of the package, Goldstein said, that made him organize this unorthodox career path.
Martin was on the manager's roster first and suggested Rodney. Martin opens the show for his old friend, usually joining him, too, for a round of golf at tour stops.
"I gravitate to the people who've been with me since the beginning," Carrington said. "I'm not interested in somebody jumping on the train and taking part in something they were never a part of. I like it the way things are."
"I was just so glad to be out of a shitty management commitment I had with some guy who was taking all my money," Carrington added. "The best thing that could happen to somebody in the entertainment business is to get f***ed in the beginning so when you have some success, you don't get f***ed then."