In the late 20th century, there was no greater accolade for a stand-up comic than the approval of Johnny Carson. If you made the then-“King of Late Night” laugh or got called over to the couch after your routine on “The Tonight Show,” your future was bright.
That was certainly the experience of Jeff Foxworthy, host of A&E Network’s Tuesday unscripted series “What’s It Worth?” His first performance on the iconic NBC show in 1990 turned out to be a career-making turn, though he admits there were nerves.
“It was totally surreal …,” the 62-year-old Atlanta native recalls. “You get to the end of your six minutes and you’re scared to look because it was like Caesar deciding do I live or do I die. And I look over and he’s waving me to the couch and I’m like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m going to the couch!’ ”
“And I remember laying in bed that night after doing it staring at the ceiling going, ‘I don’t have a plan.’ ”
He didn’t need it. Carson’s seal of approval had done its magic and Foxworthy was headlining in Las Vegas a week after his appearance.
Years later, Foxworthy guested on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and a producer handed him a photo of him and Carson on that night.
“He went back into the archives,” Foxworthy explains, “and it’s me sitting in the chair talking to Johnny and Johnny’s got his head back and his mouth wide open laughing. And he said, ‘I found this and I thought you might like to have it.’ And I got tears in my eyes. I’m like, ‘Oh my God! That’s all I wanted to do. I made Johnny laugh.’ ”
Full name: Jeffrey Marshall Foxworthy
Birth date: Sept. 6, 1958
Family ties: He and wife Pamela have two daughters
College: Georgia Institute of Technology
Other TV credits include: “The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” “Reno: 911!” “Just for Laughs,” “Blue Collar TV,” “Foxworthy’s Big Night Out,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” “Bounty Hunters,” “Jay Leno’s Garage,” “Bring the Funny,” “Expedition Unknown”
Movie credits include: “Racing Stripes” (voice, 2005), “The Aviators” (voice, 2008), “The Smurfs” (voice, 2011), “The Smurfs 2” (voice, 2013), “Hatched” (voice, 2013), “Ozzy” (voice, 2016), “Bunyan and Babe” (voice, 2017)