Bill Engvall comes to NJ

Blue Collar comedian talks of his love of stand-up


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  • Photo provided Bill Engvall.



If you go...

WHO: Bill Engvall.
WHAT: Comedian.
WHEN: 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12.
WHERE: Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown.
HOW MUCH: $59 to $99.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: 973-539-8008 or www.mayoarts.org.

Long before he was dancing his way to the top, Bill Engvall was hitting the stage with his comedy routine. Bringing his tour to the local area, the Blue Collar veteran will be performing Friday, Sept. 12 at the Mayo Center in Morristown.

"I try to write my show in a sense of I don’t even really like people to think they are going to a comedy show," Engvall said in a phone interview. "I want them to think that we are in their living room and I am just the funny neighbor talking."

Over the three decades of comedy Engvall has tackled everything dancing to fourth place in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" to hosting numerous television shows including the game show "LINGO" for GSN, "Country Fried Videos" and "Mobile Home Disasters," for CMT as well as several award shows. He has also starred in a few television shows and was part of the successful Blue Collar Comedy concert films and tours.

Secret to a long career
Engvall's secret to keeping the laughs coming has to do with his relatable and funny tales about everyday situations.

"I found over years that people laugh at the same stuff in New Jersey as they do in the south or north west or California... I kinda been able to write my act that transcends any regionality... I've tried to keep my act to where everyone can relate to it and I think that is one of the keys that has kept me in this business so long."

Fellow comedians agree with his tactic.

"Jay Leno told me one time, 'Don’t do jokes about things you don’t know about,'" Engvall said. "So for me to do fat jokes would be stupid because I’ve never really been overweight. For me to try and do divorce jokes would be stupid because I have never been divorced. There is plenty of material for what you need."

And no one is exempt from his jabs.

"I have been blessed with a really understanding family, they all know there are lines I won’t cross," Engvall said. "I think the only one who has said anything was my daughter in high school. She came to me one day and said 'OK that’s enough.’ I said, 'What are you talking about?' And she said, 'I was walking down the hall and a kid I don’t even know said I heard your dad talking about your underwear on the radio.' I think as a girl in senior in high school she didn’t appreciate it."

However, his relatable comedy routine doesn't appeal to all networks.

"I was blessed early on in this business to know if you work clean and you work relatable, you work a long time," Engvall said. "I have been passed over a lot of times for HBO specials because they said I wasn’t 'edgy' enough but in the long run I have outlasted all of them so its like, I guess that’s the proof. But also I am not a prude I like a good dirty joke as much as the next guy but I don’t want to take my wife to a show and sit through an hour and a half of it. Because after a while you go, 'Do you do anything else?'"

Dancing with the Stars
In 2013, Engvall competed in the 17th season of "Dancing with the Stars" paired with professional dancer Emma Slater.

"It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I almost turned it down. My wife was the one who said I think you oughtta do that... It turned out to be one of the best things I have done in my career."

Engvall made it all the way to fourth place and danced countless hours — 13 weeks, six hours a day for seven days a week. He ended up losing three pants sizes. Getting to the top, Engvall credits his fans.

"It wasn’t my dancing that got me there, I think I became everybody’s next door neighbor... I have great fans I have the most amazing fans stick with me thick and thin. I think women were more impressed that I was dancing with this 24 year old British Blonde Bombshell but at the end of the dance I ran over and kissed this 53 year old woman who I have been married to for 32 years."

New comedy tour
Pulling from his dancing experience, Engvall's current comedy tour will focus on that and a new aspect of his life.

"My whole career has been made by me talking about being a father, husband and all that," Engvall said. "Well now the kids are grown and moved on so now I have to go back to writing when I didn’t have kids which is really fun, We have covered a number of subjects — the fact of me getting older, we talk about whole 'Dancing with the Stars' experience, talk about me and my wife being empty nesters, just general stuff been really fun because I am having a blast with this show."

Despite doing television, movies and dancing, Engvall will always return to standup.

"I always loved standup because in Texas there is an old saying that says, 'You dance with who brung ya,'" Engvall said. "And stand up has always been there for me, it’s got me to what I am doing. I love the fact that when you are on stage and in sync with the audience and the jokes are just flowing along and effortless. I always thank people for buying CDs and DVDs but the live show is the only thing to see."

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