Amid the tangle of slow-moving traffic, barbecue and purple jerseys that was Sunday's Baltimore Ravens tailgate party, Larry the Cable Guy, the working man's comedian, was talking food — and how to ease that ubiquitous heartburn pain.
The funny-man and former radio host was in Baltimore to promote Prilosec OTC, an over-the-counter heartburn reliever. Clad in a Ravens jersey and his trademark camouflage trucker hat, Larry (real name: Daniel Lawrence Whitney) professed his love for all things greasy and saucy — and Baltimore.
"I love it here," said Larry, in a brief interview, shedding his faux Southern accent, an integral part of his stand-up act. "In Baltimore, the people are awesome to me every time I come here."
As he greeted fans in the thick of tailgating in Lot "O" along West Ostend Street, he was mobbed with photo and autograph requests.
"Oh yeah, Git-R-done!" shouted Erin Era, 27, of Cumberland, calling out one of Larry's catch phrases. After Larry posed for a cellphone picture with her, she explained her excitement: "He keeps it real. He's true to his roots. He is who he is."
Era's husband, Chris Era, who accurately predicted the Ravens would defeat the Indianapolis Colts, exclaimed, "We're country!" as Larry was ushered off to a waiting SUV to get to the airport.
Larry, who began his radio career in Missouri and in 1993 was syndicated, is currently shooting the second season of his History Channel series, "Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy." He was also a featured act for six years with Jeff Foxworthy in the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour."
A Green Bay Packers fan, Larry began making appearances at tailgate parties across the country last month as part of an NFL season-long Prilosec OTC promotion called "A Better Way to Tailgate," which runs through Jan. 4. The contest — information is at http://www.tailgatefan.com/contest — will award three grand prize winners with two tickets each to the next Super Bowl.
Fans can enter the contest in one of three categories: food served, tailgate setup and team spirit. All entries must include a photo of a tailgate fiesta.
Larry said he's a fitting spokesman for the contest, as he loves football and typical tailgating food, such as chicken wings and ribs.
"I'm in good shape," he said. "I just eat the wrong foods."
Recently he appeared as a guest co-host on "Live! With Regis and Kelly" (before Regis Philbin retired) and cooked up one of his favorite recipes — "Beanie Weenie Casserole Dish," which includes chopped-up hot dogs, beans, corn bread and barbecue sauce. After the show aired, he said, he got fan mail from as far away as New Zealand and Australia, praising the recipe.
Michael Hurley, a Ravens fan who sported a number 52 Ray Lewis jersey, said he's been an admirer of Larry's since he first heard him on the radio.
"He's so witty," said Hurley, 29, of Baltimore.