Michael "Rooster" McConaughey, Gil Prather and Wayne "Butch" Gilliam star on CNBC's West Texas Investors Club, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CST.

Michael "Rooster" McConaughey, Gil Prather and Wayne "Butch" Gilliam star on CNBC's West Texas Investors Club, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CST.

Credit: CNBC, cnbcprime.com/west-texas/pressannouncement/

You may have recently learned that Oscar-winning Austinite Matthew McConaughey has an older brother named Rooster. Like Roger Clinton or Randy Quaid, he's the crazy one. You thought playing bongos in the nude was wild? This bird's spent the better part of 61 years waiting to crow. 

And, crow he does. He and Wayne "Butch" Gilliam star on CNBC's new West Texas Investors Club, a show that's one part Shark Tank, one part Larry the Cable Guy, and ten parts WTF. (Which doesn't only stand for West Texas Fun.) It's funny, it's hokey, and -- the first episode, at least -- it has a lot of heart. Not to mention, it's got an endorsement from Gus McCray, himself, living Texas institution Robert Duvall, pronounced "Doo-val" here, who narrates the show's opening and who introduced McConaughey recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live! It's worth watching for a few reasons, and most involve the way the two rib one another like a couple of rowdy, boisterous 20-year-olds. 

Jumping off from Shark Tank's basic premise, the investors fly would-be entrepreneurs on a private jet to a tricked out, beer filled barn clubhouse in the sand pits of oil derrick land. Judging by the first episode's jaunt to Corky's, a beloved local bar -- more on that later -- it seems set somewhere just outside Odessa. One thing's clear, when entrepreneurs show up, they have no idea where they are, and that's part of the fun. 

They're picked up by Gil Prather, "The Tenderizer," who drives them in a rusty pickup to the compound, all the while playfully messing with their minds both to comic effect and to "tenderize" any pretense and unearth the character beneath the salesperson facade. Prather's an American Hall of Fame singer-songwriter, also known as "The Man from Rio Grande," and he fills the role, if it can be called that, with aplomb.  

"He distracts them and learns about the person," Gilliam explained in an interview during last night's premiere episode. "He gets to know them before introducing them. They've already spilled the beans. He gets information from them because of his personality and wit."

It's unclear if Prather, or any part of WTIC, will be as effective once viewers start to understand the set-up. Season One, at least, relies on the shocked and unwitting expressions of entrepreneurs who, one assumes, thought they were facing off with another Mark Cuban or Kevin O'Leary in the hot spotlight of a thousand dollar three-piece-suit  arena, not popping a squat on a stool and cracking a cold one with dudes in trucker hats. 

If WTIC is to succeed, it will eventually mean eschewing that surprise --"the fear in his eyes as I took his glass of champagne" moment -- for Barbara Corcoran savvy. (You might recognize her as the Shark behind Richardson's new Tom+Chee, the brand's 35th location and first expansion into Texas.) Shark Tank built its fan base around its charismatic, real-life self-made millionaires and billionaires, and McConaughey -- who made his first million at 30 in the oil pipe business -- and Gilliam -- whose financial claim-to-fame involves making almost $100,000,000 by flipping an oil field patent -- seem to fit that bill, if unconventionally. 

No doubt, all three of the show's stars are characters, but it doesn't feel like they're playing characters in a Shark Tank spoof. If they can pull off the same kind of monetary miracles on the show, it will be endlessly fun. To wit, the moment when the show's first entrepreneur "preppy" Adam Garfield, co-founder and CEO of SpeedeTab, a restaurant and bar ordering/payment app, asked Prather about McConaughey and Gilliam's investment profile.

“I don’t think they’re doing any whorehouses or dope,” Prather drawls. He then asks Garfield to program the SpeedeTab app into his phone, to which Garfield replies, “A flip phone?”

The investors are the first to admit they don't know bleep about investing in apps, but Garfield has piqued their interest and they'd like to try out SpeedeTab in a real world setting. This is where WTIC really shines: Sure, tech start-ups fly in Silicon Valley or New York City, but does this one have practical application for regular folk? 

Yes, it turns out. The investors take Garfield to Corky's where, as McConaughey puts it, "Those people drink a shit pot of beer," to see how it fares among the "West Texas oil field rednecks." 

Corky's waitresses are none-t00-pleased to forgo their typical "meet regulars at the door with a beer" service and sit stationed behind the bar where customers may use the SpeedeTab app to order and pay for drinks. In its current inception, its customers who pick up drinks from the bar, which as McConaughey points out, might have great utility in Dallas, where lines can be ten deep and bartenders' eyes never seem to fall on you. 

The investors are concerned, rightly, that such an app would put working people with families out of jobs, but Garfield says the app will, eventually, create new ones. Randy, the bar owner -- who deadpans hilariously about the time Prather nearly got him arrested down at the Border -- also feels concerned about the app's 30-cent transaction fee. Garfield contends that the app will increase a bar's efficiency and ability to handle so many more customers the fee will be worth his while. 

You'd crack a cold one with these guys, wouldn't you? 

You'd crack a cold one with these guys, wouldn't you? 

CNBC

As for customers, they dig it. Big time. That is until the internet and cell service conk out due to the stresses of practically every smart phone in Ector County. Gilliam strings up a primitive telephone from Solo cups and twine as a little competitive ribbing. When McConaughey realizes he can only order one beer at a time, rather than five, on the app, he cracks, "Sounds like my damned second wife invented the app!" 

But, in the end, the app wins. They flip some switches or turn the modem off and back on or something, and the investors are impressed with the final numbers. It's time to go back to the barn for a little hardball. 

Almost. That's preceded by the hour's weirdest, most disjointed and ultimately heart-warming moment. Prather and Garfield set down to have a final heart-to-heart where Garfield mentions that he hopes to make his Granddad -- a businessman, and his inspiration -- proud. 

"I'm gonna bust my ass to get you funded, son, because I think you're a real winner," Prather says. 

Then, he takes out an acoustic guitar, begins serenading his new friend and the show cuts into a montage of their budding bromance. It's bizarre and strange and absolutely perfect. Despite the spit stains in his beard, or perhaps because of them, Prather seems entirely sincere, and so do McConaughey and Gilliam. They may be playing it up for the camera, and certain moments are, no doubt, scripted, but there's little doubt that a McConaughey family dinner feels much the same. 

That's the fine line WTIC walks. The set up seems hokey - possibly even exploitative. Look at these rednecks, they're so dumb. But, the turnaround, the entire point, is that these "dumb rednecks" ostensibly have all the power, and they're able to make dreams come true, or not true, based on their own judgment. It's expressed in a folksy manner, but don't be fooled: They're bosses. They're the ones holding the hoops for jumping through. 

Back in the barn, Garfield jumps. The show may have heart, but the investors aren't giving him a pass just because they like him and because of Prather's stellar endorsement: "He looked me straight in the eye with a firm handshake, and that told me, hey, this boy's all right." 

They question his valuation and express concern about how quickly they'd need to move to ensure the app stays relevant and ahead of competitors. Further, they recognize that, unlike Shark Tank, their panel doesn't feature a lot of diversity. Daymond John might have passed on such a deal, even if he believed in it and the entrepreneur, because he knew Mark Cuban or Robert Herjavec had the better industry knowledge and connections. Eventually, the Investors agree their own network includes companies that could mutually benefit from a SpeedeTab partnership. Conferring privately, McConaughey says to Gilliam, "I think we've got more to offer him than he does us."

"I think he thinks he's smarter than us, and I think ... he's smarter than us," Gilliam adds, laughing. 

Plus, they've done their research. Or, at least a recent Texas Tech grad in a cubical did it for them. Garfield claims companies who've seen the product so far believe in it. 

"You're wrong, they didn't say that," McConaughey counters. Garfield tenses. The audience gasps. "They said they are in love with the thing," he adds. 

So the investors make an offer. It's for a bigger percentage that Garfield wanted to give away, and it comes with a contingency. The investors note that the company needs a big boost, and that time is of the essence. "While you're sittin' on the pot, someone else is gonna be pissin' ... in the trees," McConaughey warns. 

Garfield takes five, makes a call, and agrees to partner. It's exciting, and totally eclipses the hour-long first episode's second investors who are brought in and dismissed in the remaining fifteen minutes for a product the Investors don't believe in. Not to mention, suggesting that McConaughey would deign to drink a Heineken. "I named my dadgummed son Miller Lyte!," he says, seeming actually offended. That's true, by the way, and his daughter is Margarita Olympia. "I liked that beer, too, even though they don't make it anymore," he told People magazine in 2010.

Closing out the first episode the investors are pleased, Garfield has raised some cash, and the Twitter-verse had a good time. 

"We’re high tech sumbitches, I don’t care what anybody says," McConaughey crows. Let's hope he's right and they're around for much, much more. 

West Texas Investors Club airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CST on CNBC. 

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