Jeff Foxworthy, <EM>Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?</EM> Jeff Foxworthy, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

You know you're on a hit TV show when... more than 26 million people tune in for its premiere, making it the most-watched series debut on any network in eight and a half years. TV Guide spoke with redneck comic and Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? host Jeff Foxworthy about the secrets of the Fox quizzer's success. (5th Grader next airs Thursday at 8 pm/ET.)

TV Guide: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader is getting huge ratings. Are you surprised?
Jeff Foxworthy:
I feel like Cin­derella. I'm used to having shows that the network tries to keep a secret, so this is really weird for them to actually be plugging me.

TV Guide: Why do you think producer Mark Burnett chose a blue-collar redneck like you to host a game show?
Last year, someone was trying to bring back Kids Say the Darndest Things, and I ran the show a couple of times. Mark Burnett saw it and said to me [affect­ing a heavy Australian accent], "You are so American." I was like, "I don't know what that means, but thank you." In this crazy business, I've hopefully been able to retain some normalcy. People think they know me.

TV Guide: Did they give you a pop quiz for the audition?
I think they knew I was an idiot going in, and I don't ever pretend to be Alex Trebek. I find that I'm right about 40 percent of the time. And only then because it's some­thing that I've helped my kids study for.

TV Guide: Would your 12- and 15-year-old daughters whip your butt on this show?
We were sit­ting together watching it last night, and as soon as I asked a question, they would blurt out the answer, and imme­diately it was like, "Did you know that, Daddy?" And I'm like, "No, but I'm still the leader of this house!"

TV Guide: What kind of a student were you?
I always made As and Bs, but every comment on my report card said, "Jeff talks too much in class." In fact, the best note I ever got backstage at a stand-up show was from my high-school principal, who said, "I can't believe I'm shelling out money to hear the same kind of junk I used to try to put a stop to." I was in his office two times a week, and he would always say to me, "What do you think you are, a comedian?" Well, apparently I am.

TV Guide: What's been one of the show's dumbest moments?
One of the questions was a first-grade art question: "If you mix red and blue together, what color do you get?" And the adult said, "Brown." I'm thinking you really need to be on display at a state fair somewhere. You're making me feel better about my family.

TV Guide: Is the show a commentary on the state of our national IQ?
No. The stuff on this show — we deleted that file [from our brains] 30 years ago. I don't know why, 30 years later, I still know all the words to Gilligan's Island, but I have chosen to delete anything I ever knew about triangles.

TV Guide: What else do you have going on these days?
I just finished the third volume of The Redneck Dictionary. Nos. 1 and 2 were on the New York Times best-seller list, which I'm pretty sure is a sign of the apocalypse. And I'm down to the last page of a children's book. It's the hardest thing I've ever written because you have to make yourself be 4 years old.

TV Guide: So are you, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader?
[Sighs] No, I'm not. Well, maybe I am because I'm actually doing the same things I did in the fifth grade, and now I'm getting paid for it. I'm getting paid to make the class laugh.

TV Guide Channel's The 411 takes you behind the scenes of another new Fox series, The Wedding Bells. Click here for complete listings.

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