Bill Engvall to perform at Prairie Band Casino
Bill Engvall has found success with his comedic prowess in many forms over the last 25 years – launching The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, starring in “The Bill Engvall Show” on TBS and, most recently, advancing to the semifinals of “Dancing with the Stars.” Above all though, Engvall enjoys being on stage in front of his fans.
“When people come to my show, I want it to feel like we’re just sitting around the living room,” Engvall said in a phone interview. “I just happen to be the guy doing all the talking, sharing a 90-minute story.”
Engvall is set to perform at the Great Lakes Ballroom at the Prairie Band Casino at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 3. The comedian also performed at the casino in 2010.
“I love the fans,” he said. “It still amazes me that people pay to see me. I really enjoy the stage time. The fun I have on stage still outweighs my dislike for all the traveling and being away from my family.”
Engvall said he will be recording his 11th album this August, and those who attend his event at the casino will get a “sneak peak” of some of that material.
“I’ve made a career talking about being a dad and raising kids and now they’re all grown up,” he said. “So now I’m talking about my wife and me being empty nesters, knee replacement surgery and kidney stones. It’s a really fun show.”
Engvall’s successful career in comedy stems from the fact that his material is very relatable to his audience, and he prides himself on being a “clean” act.
“I was lucky and knew how to pick that up early on,” Engvall said of his relatability. “I stay away from religion and politics.”
He also doesn’t take jabs at people’s states or hometowns.
“I don’t feel the need to do that,” he said.
The stand-up’s show will include plenty of material on his experience on “Dancing with the Stars,” where he and partner Emma Slater came in fourth on the 17th season of the ABC show.
“A lot of time you see things coming your way – that was not one of them,” he said.
Engvall was recovering from knee surgery when he received a call from DWTS producers about coming on the show.
“I told them ‘I think you have the wrong number,’” he said. “Doctors tell you not to make big decisions 24 hours after surgery, but I said yes.”
Engvall said he was completely unprepared for the rigorous schedule of DWTS.
“I planned on being in the competition for one or two weeks,” he said. “I made it 13 weeks and am the oldest man and only comedian to make it that far.”
He practiced six hours a day, seven days a week during the show and lost 35 pounds, tore his groin and had to have knee replacement surgery again.
“Men my age are not designed to dance that much,” he said. “We’re designed to dance once a year at a wedding to Kool and the Gang. As hard as it was though, I would go back in a second.”
As Engvall prepares for his next comedy album, he said he’s gained perspective over the years.
“If it’s not really, really good, I will call it in,” he said. “I want to spend my time with my kids, who are now grown. I could quit today and no one can say, ‘Man, he was this close to making it.’”
A native of Galveston, Texas, Engvall initially attended college to pursue a teaching career. While working as a disc jockey, he found a knack for stand-up comedy and found that making people laugh was truly his forte.
He moved to Los Angeles, Calif. in 1990 and went on to star in the Showtime special “A Pair of Jokers,” hosted A&E’s “Evening at the Improv” and appeared on “The Tonight Show” and “Late Show with David Letterman.”
In 1992, he won the American Comedy Award for “Best Male Stand-up Comedian.” He appeared in several episodes of “Designing Women” and co-starred in “Delta” and “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.”
Engvall’s first album, “Here’s Your Sign,” is certified platinum and held the number one position on the Billboard comedy chart for 15 straight weeks. His second album, “Dorkfish,” also debuted number one on Billboard’s comedy chart, as did his subsequent comedy albums.
In 2000, Jeff Foxworthy and Engvall launched the first of six Blue Collar Comedy Tours. Each of the six years of the tour were very successful and spawned three films, a satellite radio show and the television show “Blue Collar TV.” It also received a Grammy nomination.
He starred in his own family comedy television show, “The Bill Engvall Show,” from 2007 to 2009. He has written several books, including his 2007 autobiography “Bill Engvall – Just A Guy.”
Engvall said there were two moments in his life when he felt like he had “made it” as a comedian.
“The first was when I appeared on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,’” he said. “The second was when I performed at the Grand Ole Opry. My grandmother was always ironing and folding while she listened to the Grand Old Opry. So when I went on stage, I knew she’d be watching me from heaven.”
Engvall said if he could have given any advice to his younger self, it would have been to move to Los Angeles earlier.
“When I got there, it was just at the tail end of the family sitcom on television,” he said. “But I’ve had a great career and life works out the way it’s supposed to. I don’t second guess it. I’ve had the most wonderful life and family.”
Engvall and his wife, Gail, have been married for 32 years. They have two children, Emily, 28; and Travis, 24. Engvall resides in southern California where he enjoys playing golf and watching baseball in his free time.
Tickets for Engvall’s performance are $40 to $50 and are available at pbpgaming.tix.com.
In other entertainment news, a tribute to the music of Patsy Cline has been set for 8 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Sac & Fox Casino in Powhattan. The event stars Joni Morris and The After Midnight Band.
The show is free and will be held in the Silver Fox Showroom