Dear The Sea Ranchers,
My name is Jeff Foxworthy and I am a comedian, author, and television show host. I recently visited your community and asked my assistant to draft the following letter for you.
Dear The Sea Ranchers,
I’m comedian, author and television show host, Jeff Foxworthy. I recently stayed at The Sea Ranch, CA. My old buddy, Larry the Cable Guy, recommended that I stop there for a quick breather while I’m on my national “The Good Old Days” tour. I enjoyed your links course and better-than-average wifi. My stay was very relaxing.
I am writing to you today because I have a confession to make. I made a few jokes about The Sea Ranch that I shouldn’t have.
If you know me or my comedy, you know that I don’t like to offend. Some of you might remember my stand up from the early 90s when I used to tell “women do this and men do that” jokes. By the Blue Collar Comedy tour in 2000, I changed those to “my wife does this and I do that” jokes. The change happened for several reasons. Most important was that I wanted to be very clear that my comedy is about my own unique experience of the world. That experience might be different than yours and I don’t want to put words into anyone else’s mouths, demean them, or make them feel like I’m subtly poking fun at their expense. I decided to make fun of my own observations where I look like the dummy and my comedy is stronger for it.
You’ve probably noticed that professional comedians can make themselves the object of the joke without sounding like a sourpuss. That’s why nobody thinks Seinfeld is as funny as he does. A rarified few are masters that infuse personal experience and self-depreciation to sugar-coat a sensitive or even subversive message. Dave Chappelle was once an expert at this and his routine about white privilege in police interactions is a classic example. In that routine, Chappelle’s fictitious white friend, Chip, has a series of increasingly outrageous encounters with law enforcement. In the first encounter, Chip and Chappelle are lost in lower Manhattan and take a break to smoke a joint. Chapelle is horrified when Chip walks up to a nearby police officer (“No, Chip! Don’t do it!”), touches the officer to get his attention, admits to being “a little high”, and asks for directions. To Chappelle’s naive amazement, the police officer simply provides directions and a stern “be careful” before they’re on their way. Chappelle found the whole experience “incredible.” In a later story, Chip is pulled over for street racing while drunk and drives away with a warning after telling the police officer, “I’m sorry… I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.” Genius.
Chappelle’s routine about Chip works because it’s delivered as a first-person experience. He plays the dummy who was unaware of white experience with the criminal justice system. He doesn’t need to put anyone down to make the poignant observation.
Unfortunately, he’s recently lost his touch, rarely includes himself in his routines, and sounds like a grumpy grandpa that just “doesn’t get” all these gay and trans people.
Anyhoo, this all brings me back to my confession. I had a few too many glasses of Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc at the lodge’s Vino and Vinyl event during my stay at The Sea Ranch, went back to to my rental, and jotted down a handful of “you might be a redneck if” jokes about the Sea Ranch. It’s not my story to tell and I’m sorry I did this.
I will share them with you as penance.
- If at least one of your neighbors has written an undergraduate text book, you might be a Sea Rancher
- If you have more telescopes than televisions, you just might be a Sea Rancher
- If you don’t own a pair of shorts, there’s a good chance you’re a Sea Rancher
- If you think 3 people in a pool is a crowd, you might be a Sea Rancher
- If you believe that building homes on top of ridge-lines is tacky, you might be a little bit of a Sea Rancher
- If you consider the food from the Guernville Safeway “fresh”, you’re likely a Sea Rancher
- If your family ever formed an Entertainment and Popcultural Enrichment Task Force to help decide what movie to watch, you might just be a Sea Rancher
- You might be a Sea Rancher if you know whether you use modus ponens vs. modus tollens to evaluate the accuracy of the following logical argument:
- The definition of “redneck” is the glorious absence of sophistication
- The Sea Ranch is sophisticated
- Therefore, The Sea Ranch is not “redneck“
- If most of your phone’s memory (or iCloud space) is taken up by videos of sheep, hawks, foxes, deer, turkeys, whales, seals, woodpeckers, or vacation renters making a mess of things, you might just be a Sea Rancher.
Please understand this is not meant to offend you. It’s also not meant to not offend you. Which is the problem, and why I need to come clean.
If I’m going to make fun, I should be making fun of myself too. I call it The Great Golden Rule of Comedy and my buddies from the Blue Collar Comedy tour of 2000-2004 and I try to live it every day.
I will be sticking to my redneck jokes for the time being. Or at least until I convince Larry the Cable guy to co-invest in a few rental properties there and I get to know you a little better.
P.S. Jeff asked me to get this published in The Sea Ranch Bulletin. They weren’t receptive. We also tried Soundings, but they wouldn’t publish it either. We had to settle on The Sea Ranch Reader. They seem willing to publish anything.
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