Mr. Reep, named class clown in high school, graduated from North Carolina State, Raleigh, in 1996 with a B.A. in theater and communications. He recently spoke to Detroit Bureau Chief Jean Halliday.
AA: How did you become the Dodge Hemi guy?
Mr. Reep: My agent called me up and said 'We have an audition. They're looking for somebody to play white trash'-those are the words he used. I said 'I know what that is. I've been rehearsing for that role my whole life.' I went down there and dressed the part. I had a tank top on with spit on it. I didn't shave and I put a dip of tobacco in my mouth. I had one line. I was sitting on an aluminum chair and I put my arm out like I was leaning out a car window and I started vibrating like I was in a muscle car.
AA: How has it changed your life?
Mr. Reep: It's made it more comfortable in terms of money. I got a new car-finally-and I've got a house now. I bought a town home in Studio City [California]. I just had the gas fireplace hooked up. I was living month-to-month paying rent. Because of the Dodge commercials I have been able to do other things. I just did a half-hour special that will air on Comedy Central March 24 and I'm doing more on the sitcom I'm on (ABC's "Rodney," on which he plays a County Sheriff Jim Bob). I didn't know it would last this long. I've been to the Daytona 500 three times with Dodge for personal appearances.
AA: What were you doing before the Dodge commercials?
Mr. Reep: I was living in L.A. maybe two years and was a full-time stand-up comic. Before I moved to L.A., I had done stand-up in every state except Hawaii.
AA: What's your next big project?
Mr. Reep: I did auditions for my new sidekick (with six finalists as part of Dodge's Be the Next Hemi Star contest). Now, it's me and a girl. We just finished two new commercials for Dodge that will probably start airing in February or March.
AA: If you weren't doing what you're doing, what career would you have?
Mr. Reep: The last job I had before I started stand-up was working at a TV station as a production assistant-UNC-TV, like a PBS affiliate. I was an assistant director for a couple of TV programs-"North Carolina Now," a sort of magazine show, and "Legislative Week in Review." I probably would have stayed in that role and worked my way up in the business.