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Catching up with Suwanee comic Ron White, coming to Cobb Energy Centre Feb. 1-2

Ron White
Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

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Ron White’s ubiquitous combo of scotch and cigar while he’s on stage cracking jokes may seem like comedic shtick.

But it’s real. The stand-up comic truly loves Macallan single malt scotch and his own Zino Platinum Ron White signature-edition cigars.

During an interview at his Suwanee home, overlooking the fourth green of the River Club golf course, White puffed away on a cigar, sipping Diet Coke and watching the Golf Channel in his office. His two French bulldogs Gurdie and Pearl scurried underfoot.

He doesn’t touch liquor during the day, though. “I do maybe three drinks at night.” His basement man-cave features a bar where one side is exclusively Scotch whiskys: Glenlivit, Johnny Walker, Bushmills Malt. The stuff on the other is mostly for guests.

White purchased the six-bedroom, eight-bath low-country-style mansion in 2005 in celebration of the success of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” That tour, created by his friend Jeff Foxworthy, lifted White from Punchline Comedy Club headliner status to sold-out shows at the Fox Theatre. “I’m forever grateful to Jeff,” he says.

White’s among a half-dozen major comics headed to Atlanta in upcoming weeks. Others on the horizon: Rodney Carrington, Louis C.K, Gabriel Iglesias and, the biggest name of the bunch, Jerry Seinfeld.

White’s performed regularly in Atlanta, but this time’s opted for a venue he’s never visited: the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for three shows, Feb. 1-2. “I’ve always had a blast at the Fox. I just wanted to try something different.”

His fiance, singer-songwriter Margo Rey, performed with jazz musician Dave Koz at Cobb Energy last month and raved about it.

White’s been engaged to Rey for four years, with a wedding set for October. It will be White’s fourth marriage, Rey’s first.

“It will be a gorgeous wedding, but it’s not about that,” says Rey. “It’s about showing our friends a good time. I want people to say it was the best party ever! It’ll be filled with music and comedy.”

White says he has no qualms drinking on stage while telling jokes. “I just get a little bit sillier.”

And he compares himself to Jeff Bridges’ alcohol-drenched country singer character in the 2009 film “Crazy Heart.” “No matter how screwed up he gets, he always finishes strong.”

The veteran comic has been doing stand-up for nearly three decades, telling hilarious, frequently sardonic stories about his life, throwing in plenty of profanities and childish references to private parts. But he always does it with a distinctive “don’t take me too seriously” grin and a native Texas drawl.

He says he constantly works on new routines, cycling in fresh material regularly to the point his show becomes completely different every two to three years.

“I work all the time on my show,” White says. “I have the chops. I go on stage all the time.” To test his material before a live audience, he frequently visits open mic nights at small comedy clubs such as Midtown’s Laughing Skull and Roswell’s Punchline.

“The fans will decide when I retire,” says White, 56. “There’s no reason to. I love doing it. You walk on stage and people go crazy.

“That part of it alone is addicting. There’s a transference of energy that alters my state. I can’t imagine a world without it.”

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