Since I did a “Robin’s Underrated Gems” column on Ernest Saves Christmas yesterday, I feel it’s only appropriate that I do a “Before They Were Stars” feature on Jim Varney from the days before he was Ernest P. Worrell. Here he is playing a redneck comedy character named Virgil Simms on a short-lived 1977 show named Fernwood 2 Night. This sketch comedy series was a satire of low-budget, locally produced talk shows and in this segment, Varney sings a pretty catchy tune called “Redneck Heaven”. Even though Fernwood 2 Night didn’t last very long, there was actually a lot of future comedy talent involved on the show as you can also see an unknown Martin Mull and Fred Willard playing the hosts here. If you watch this clip all the way to the end, you’ll see a lot of familiar names listed in the end credits, including Alan Thicke as a writer and producer, Ben Stein as a creative consultant, and yesterday’s birthday boy, Harry Shearer, as a program consultant.
Behind the Curtain