This ain’t your blue collar brand of comedy.
Wilmington’s own Cliff Cash has teamed up with veteran stand-ups Tom Simmons and Stewart Huff for the Sick of Stupid tour, aimed at changing, through humor, the way people see southerners.
The trio hit the road earlier this month and will swing into the Port City Saturday as they round out the last leg of the 11-day circuit throughout Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Sick of Stupid came about as Cash, fairly new to the scene, realized he was performing a genre that didn’t quite exist: smart southern stand-up. Cash’s first crack at live comedy came at a local open mic night about five years ago, and he was instantly hooked.
But as a Gastonia native with a deep affection for his home state, Cash didn’t want Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy to be the only voices of a region of which he is a proud byproduct.
“Nothing against those guys; I think they are genuises and they’re millionaires,” Cash said of the Blue Collar boys. “But I want this tour to be the antithesis…”
The problem, as Cash sees it, is the more colorful or controversial of the southern culture gets the spotlight all too often.
“You know, we’re not all crazy rednecks holed up in a trailer in our confederate flag Snuggies watching ‘Duck Dynasty’ and saying mean things about gay people…It’s the same as with any group. Any cultural or ethnic or religious group doesn’t want to be lumped in with the worst examples of them,” he said. “It’s just about pushing back against the stereotype.”
That stereotype, Cash acknowledged, exists for a reason. But that doesn’t mean it’s uniquely reserved for southerners.
“The Triangle has the highest concentration of Ph.Ds in the country, and that’s just North Carolina…It’s less about geography and more about population density. It’s not a southern issue; it’s a rural issue,” he said. “Don’t put it all on the south…It’s an unfortunate stigma and it’s unfair. I want the rest of the world to understand how awesome the south is.”
That’s not to say Cash doesn’t poke a little fun at southerners–at least a certain segment of the population–in his stand-up.
“People think I have an animosity towards the south but it’s really the opposite. Yes, there are some pretty dumb people in the south. Those people are real but they aren’t everybody.”
And that’s where Sick of Stupid comes in. Armed with biting wit and social commentary, Cash and his companions hope to both show and tell that you can be both firmly planted in your southern roots and still branch out as enlightened, educated and open-minded individuals.
Simmons, who was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and now lives in Greensboro, is a two-time Boston Comedy Festival finalist who has appeared on BET and Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” and is a regular on “The BOB and TOM Show.” Fellow Boston Comedy Festival finalist Huff is Kentucky-born and Tennessee-raised and has performed across the globe for more than 15 years.
“There has been a lot of good, smart, thought-provoking comedy to come out the south. I’d love it if we are the ones to draw attention to that,” Cash said. “People are hungry for that kind of comedy, whether they know it or not.”
The comics have brought along a videographer on the tour to capture live stand-up footage, along with antics on the road and some candid interviews with folks they meet along the way. Cash is hoping to turn that into a 90-minute comedy special and feature-length documentary.
Cameraman in tow, Cash, Simmons and Huff will perform at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Bourgie Nights, 127 Princess St. Doors open at 6 and 9 p.m., respectively. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Click here for more information about the tour, comedian bios and videos.
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.