Rodney Carrington has a way of buttering up his audience, even from afar.
When asked in a recent email interview about Aggies, the comedian with a country twist replied, "They are very, very good-looking … OK, maybe I am sucking up a little to get Aggies to come to my show."
That will happen tonight at Rudder Auditorium, in a show presented by MSC Town Hall and branded "for mature audiences."
The Longview native emerged in 1998 with his album Hangin' With Rodney -- and a memorable concert at the former Shadow Canyon at Northgate -- which was loaded with his explicit-but-funny songs. A few examples, vaguely worded here for obvious reasons: a depiction of correspondence with a certain body part, a gender-bending dance scene and an alarming bathroom revelation.
A series of albums led to his own ABC sitcom called Rodney in 2004, which ran for two seasons. Carrington teamed up with country star Toby Keith on the movie Beer for My Horses in 2008. His last comedy special, Laughter's Good, aired on CMT and is set to debut on Netflix this summer. That topic inspired Carrington to shift his buttering efforts accordingly in this interview.
"One reason we are excited about the special being on Netflix is because it will now be seen worldwide," he says. "I really love Netflix … OK, maybe I am sucking up a little to get Netflix to buy my next comedy special."
Like many comedians that go on to television and movies, Carrington has always returned to the stage. He credits the crowd interaction -- his concerts can turn into sing-alongs with fans that know all of the lyrics -- with bringing him back to stand-up.
"TV and movies are great, but it takes a while to see what really works with an audience," he says. "Especially movies. With stand-up comedy, you know immediately with the crowd what is working. They either laugh or they don't. Hopefully they laugh more than they don't."
Carrington lives in Tulsa and has three sons ranging in age from 16 to 20, all of whom have "a pretty decent sense of humor," he says. He is divorced, and says his real-life experiences are a significant part of his comedy.
"The show is always changing," he says. "The show that people saw last time in College Station will be completely different this time. For one thing, I was married back then and now I am divorced. That brings new material. The show that everybody will see in College Station on Friday will be different than the show the next night, and those will be different than the shows I did last week."
Regarding that "mature audiences" tag: One of Carrington's signature songs is a ballad called Show Them to Me, with the "them" being the objects of frequent male ogling. In concert, and as shown on his Live at the Majestic special, the song can become the equivalent of a Mardi Gras transaction. But instead of beads, women (and in the interest of fair play, apparently, even some men) receive a hearty salute from Carrington.
This would likely be quickly dismissed as misogynistic by other performers, but is generally accepted by Carrington's fans. His playful persona and self-deprecating approach go a long way toward making such bits more palatable. And it comes through at the end of this interview, when asked if there's anything else he'd like to add.
"And finally, I'm not that good in bed," he says. "Damn it, here I go lying again. I'm sorry, actually I'm fantastic in bed. The people of College Station should know that before they come to my show."