i demand satisfaction, but i’ll settle for 19th nervous breakdown

Excerpted from a 2037 Vanity Fair piece on Larry the Cable Guy:

No less an authority than Jesus Christ observed that no prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown, and so it was for Larry the Cable Guy among his contemporaries in the misunderstood first act of his career. It took a generation for the scales to fall from the critics’ eyes, but when the New Yorker controversially recommended a revisitation of his seminal work, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, he was at last viewed for what he was: the 21st-century torchbearer of a comedic tradition dating to Mark Twain.

Today, the aging man once known as Dan Whitney sits in his office, reminding a guest that the literal definition of the word manuscript is “hand-written,” explaining his chosen medium for which to express himself in the autumn of his life. The shelves in here, stacked twelve feet high, are lined with dozens of leatherbound volumes, each filled with enough material for a century’s worth of posthumous releases, written, appropriately enough for this venerable man of letters, in longhand. The Brahms concerto playing softly in the background in these tranquil quarters might tempt an observer to forget the stakes of the battle being waged daily within its oaken walls, one in which an American treasure is pitted against time, against mortality, in a race to record the fount of ideas that threatens at times to burst forth from his very soul.  

The Mont Blanc pen in his hand was a gift from his onetime mentor Jeff Foxworthy, who in another life played Buster Keaton to Larry’s Roscoe Arbuckle. These days, Larry the Cable Guy is looking quite frail, a condition which owes as much to his advancing age as it does to the physical toll exacted by a slavish devotion to his craft. In an ink-stained smoking jacket (with the sleeves cut off, as is his well-known custom), he has been known to miss days of meals in here while writing, and his signature camouflage ballcap, now a bit ill-fitting, betrays the weight loss incurred while frantically penning the next Witless Protection or Delta Farce as his beef Wellington grows cold on a tray outside the door. 

At the Kennedy Center Honors, at which he has been a ubiquitous presence since his own induction a decade ago, Larry the Cable Guy tried to describe the driving force behind the recent flood of work that has been his obsession. Since entering what he calls his “emeritus period,” he feels a need to make up for those lost years when his work was underappreciated: “I wouldn’t trade my time wandering in the wilderness for anything, for it taught me that the only artistic endeavor worth pursuing is following one’s muse, even to uncharted territory. In my old age, I am given to daydreaming about an afterlife in which I am called upon to account for my life’s work by whatever deity granted me this artistic vision,” says this latter-day Chaplin, wistfully. “When asked if I was a good steward of the gifts entrusted to me, I want to be able to say with absolute certainty that I have gotten-r-done.”


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