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Larry The Cable Guy On Bringing Mater To Life For Cars On The Road – Exclusive Interview

Aside from his unique stage name, Larry the Cable Guy is best known for two things: his stand-up comedy and voicing vintage tow truck Mater from Disney's "Cars" franchise. As Mater, Larry the Cable Guy breathes lovably hokey charm into the 1950s Chevrolet boom truck whose catchphrase is "Git-R-Done." The character started out as a secondary role in the original "Cars" film that came out in 2006 but has since become almost as beloved as the smiley red race car Lightning McQueen.

Together, the two Disney icons have appeared in three full-length films, a television series, and three sets of shorts — including "Car Toons: Mater's Tall Tales" and the latest entry into the franchise, "Cars on the Road," which is now streaming on Disney+. During an exclusive interview with Looper, Larry the Cable Guy revealed how voicing Mater changed his life, the legacy he hopes he leaves, and why he doesn't have any plans to retire from stand-up anytime soon.

Cars came into Larry the Cable Guy's life at just the right time

I watched "Cars on the Road," and the episodes are more like vignettes, with my favorite being the spooky one that mixes Haunted Mansion with "The Shining." That one was great!

Thank you. We had a blast. I remember taping it, and that's one of the ones that we had to stop several times because we were laughing.

You've been voicing Mater for 16 years now...

Since 1895. [Laughs.]

What does he mean to you?

It's changed my life. As a stand-up comedian, you do certain things, but this has given me a project that is universal, that can go anywhere. Anybody can watch it. When you're a standup, you've got certain crowds [and] a fan base, but this is something that crosses all generational ages, and it's an iconic character — and it's for an iconic company. It's indescribable how cool it is that I'm a part of it. I would've never dreamed, but I thank God for it. I'm blessed to be a part of it.

Speaking of your stand-up act ... it's a little less kid-friendly, so to speak, than the humor in "Cars on the Road." What does doing an animated kids series allow you to do as a comedian that you may not be able to do otherwise?

Let me put it this way: When I started having kids, my act started getting completely different. When you don't have kids, you don't really think about stuff like that. You're single, and you're living life, but when you get married and have kids, a lot of your priorities start to change.

"Cars" was an answer to a prayer because I wanted to do something that my kids could watch. It'd be cool for them to be like, "Wow, that's neat." My boy was born in 2006, and I got the part [around] 2003, a couple years before it came out. It was really cool. It came along at a time when I was changing things around and prioritizing things differently. That's why it was so exciting. It gave me something that when my kids are older and they have kids, they'll be like, "Wow, that was my dad."

Believe me, I still love my stand-up, but as times go on, things change, and I love it. This is a whole different thing,  and it couldn't have come at a better time — when you have kids and you grow up a little bit.

Voicing Mater is 'like breathing now'

Is there anything special you do to bring Mater to life? Wear a special hat or outfit or go for a long car ride before stepping into the vocal booth? Any rituals?

I put my [Mater] hat on, and I've got my little truck [figurine] with me. [Laughs.] People always wonder if it's hard to get back into the voice. I'll tell you exactly what I do. I get in the studio and the first thing I do is go like this, "Dad gum! My name's Mater, like ta-mater without the ta." I go, "That's the tone right there." I'll probably do that two or three times, and as soon as I get the right tone, I'm ready to roll. That's pretty much all I do. I can go a year and a half without doing the voice, but as long as I say those phrases and I get the tone, then I'm set to go.

We do so many of these it's like breathing now. It's old hat — toys, games, cartoons. Plus, I do it almost every day for somebody who has a birthday, and they want their kid to have a Mater call, like a flood of your friends or whatever. I'm always staying in pretty good shape, Mater-wise.

Outside of "Cars," your fellow Blue Collar alum, Ron White, is retiring from performing at the end of his current tour. What are your thoughts on him hanging it up, and how much longer do you plan on doing live events?

Nobody ever retires from doing comedy. [Laughs.] Here's what I say about that: wait to see. I'll wait to see if that happens.

Ron's a great comedian. I love him like a brother, and I get it. It gets tiring traveling around. He's older than I am, and I'm almost 60, so I get it. I think if he wants to retire, good for him. Enjoy yourself. You've worked hard.

As for me? I still enjoy making people laugh, and we're all at the awesome stage of our career, stand-up-wise, where we can pick and choose where we want to go and what dates we want to take. It's a great position to be in when you've toured almost your entire adult life. I was on the road 286 days a year for 15 years, but as long as I'm making people laugh, I'll continue to do some shows here and there. I definitely don't have a big schedule like I did before, but I enjoy it.

That's what I've got to say to that. I still enjoy it. I know he enjoys it, but you know how it is, you get burnt out. That's probably it, but whatever he decides to do, I love him, man. He's one of the funniest that ever was.

"Cars on the Road" is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.

This interview has been edited for clarity.