Bill Engvall Older, Wiser and Ready to Revisit The Past

Bill engvall

Interview by Danny Coleman

“Tour? I’ve been on tour since 1980. I’m on the road all of the time,” says observational comedian and “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” alumnus Bill Engvall as he discussed his upcoming April 15 Appearance at the Bergen PAC in Englewood, NJ. “The difference this time is that I spent my career talking about my wife and kids and now I’m back to writing like I did when I first started; it’s challenging and kind of neat at the same time.”

A Galveston, TX native, Engvall left the town in which he grew up after high school and moved to the big city of Dallas where he became a disc jockey in a local night club. While in this role, he decided to try his luck at stand-up comedy during one of the club’s open mic. nights. Finding it to his liking, he began to frequent more open mics. and amateur nights and began honing the craft which would eventually become a career in comedy, television, film and even as

a game show host. “I had intentions on becoming a school teacher,” he said with a small laugh. “That of course didn’t happen but I give credit to teachers; to me they’re entertainers in their own way. Think about it, we all remember the teachers who made learning and school fun; right? The ones who didn’t use or dwell on negativity; they’re the ones who stand out in our memories. I started with comedy because people, friends, thought I had a unique way of looking at things; I guess they were right.”

That unique way has led to a platinum album (“Here’s Your Sign”), a multi-platinum album (“Live”), a gold album (“Dorkfish”), countless TV appearances, solo specials and movie roles. One of his last specials, “Aged and Confused,” showed a different side of this likable comedian; one that featured a return to creativity and for an observational comic that’s not always the easiest thing to come by. “Yeah, it can be a struggle at times,” he mused as he reflected on his past efforts. “Anybody who is familiar with me knows that my material came mostly from picking up on things in my family life. My daughter, wife and son gave me things to ponder almost daily. My wife going through menopause, kids growing up and the various challenges there, it’s what fits for me and some stuff just comes to you; like a gift (laughs). Now though, my wife is through menopause, my daughter is grown and out in her own place, my son is at school; I’ve got to start looking for things again. It really is like when I first started doing this; I have to write things and look for the funny in situations and that’s not always easy to do but I’m really enjoying it.”

Engvall was enjoying moderate success on his own but it was the teaming up with his good pals Jeff Foxworthy, Larry The Cable Guy and Ron White to form the “Blue Collar Comedy Concert” and subsequent tours and albums that broke things wide open for the one time amateur from Texas. “Oh yeah, that was a gift from God! It just came along at the right time for me and it started something huge for all of us. Those fellas are all so funny and great human beings; it was one of the most fun times of my career.”

Along with his Blue Collar buddies; Engvall admires comics such as Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart and some of today’s “Younger comics,” because he says he finds their take on things to be, “Very funny” and he, “Loves to laugh.” Although he does readily admit that he enjoys clean comedy more so than other acts. “I appreciate clean comics who can be funny. Guys like Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart; work clean and are very relatable. Clean comedians work a long time. Look at me; I’ve been doing this for 35 years (laughs).”

There are no signs that Engvall is ready to slow down either; a new taped special is being shopped around and it too is based on his life experiences. “We’re thinking of entitling it “Just Sell Him For Parts,” he explained with a hearty laugh. “It seems like after I did”Dancing With The Stars” that everything started to go wrong. I had a knee replacement, kidney stones, shingles and all kinds of aches and pains that I never had before; I’m scared to get out of bed (laughs). My wife joked and said, “We should just sell you for parts,” and that’s how that came about. Currently, we’re shopping it around and seeing who has an interest but we’ll definitely get it out there somewhere.”

Engvall brings his act to The Bergen Performing Arts Center on Friday April 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets range in price from $39 to $99 dollars each and can be obtained by going to either www.billengvall.com or www.bergenpac.org.

Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)