Originally Published: February 19, 2009 9:41 p.m.
Comedian Bill Engvall, star of "The Bill Engvall Show" and "Blue Collar TV," comes to Tim's Toyota Center 7 p.m. Sunday, March 1. Bill recently spoke with The Daily Courier to discuss his new stand-up show and comic motivations.
Q: What's the current show about?
Bill Engvall: My new show is called "Aged and Confused." I'm at that age now where I go, "Oh my God, am I the only person who sees this, how annoying the (phone) menu is." I vent about pet peeves, like when you call somebody's cell phone, and it rings once and it goes, "Please enjoy the music while we find your party." How 'bout you just answer the phone! The whole genesis behind this show is, my whole career has been about me raising kids. Now my kids are gone. My son graduates high school in about five months and it's empty-nesting for me and my lovely bride. I've gotta tell you, it's been a blast, because I've gone back to writing the way I used to before I had kids. I can rant on stuff that just drives me nuts.
Q: Most people know you from the "Blue Collar Comedy" stuff. Is your material similar to that, or do you give it a different spin?
Engvall: I think it's similar, but I just expound on it more. "Blue Collar" - you had about 20 minutes of your own stand-up. So you really just kind of did the greatest hits. "Blue Collar" was like buying the 45. This is like buying the LP and going "Have you listened to side B? It's the best! But radio would never play side B."
Q: Do you find yourself following tangents, or do you have a good idea where you're going?
Engvall: I have an outline in mind, but you never know where the show is going to take you. Sometimes something will happen, or I'll trip up on something I said, and it turns the whole joke another way. A lot of times, it's weird, and you don't know until it happens - I'm doing my act, but my brain is way somewhere else. It's like somebody's walking down the sidewalk, and they're looking back and don't see what they tripped on.
Q: What side of your career you enjoy the most -TV, film or stand-up?
Engvall: I love the acting. I love playing somebody. My goal in acting is, I want to do something like Robin Williams did, when he played a psycho serial killer. I've gotten to a point in my career. I've done a TV show; I've done comedy, movies and dramas. But as far as stand-up goes, there's not much that beats that. When you've got an audience, and you're rolling, and we're all on the same wavelength, it's like you don't ever want it to end.
Q: How do you perceive your show?
Engvall: I want it to be so anti-stand-up-ish. More like we're sitting in your living room, and I'm just a guy that starts talking. And you're just like, "I don't remember this dude's name, but he came to our house and we laughed our asses off." But if somebody takes it to another level - of you completely relaxed and just having the time of your life - then you remember that name.
Q: Which comics inspired you?
Engvall: The ultimate to me is Bill Cosby. Cosby will pull out a wingback chair onstage, and he'll sit and talk to you. He'll get up and wander around, but he'll come back and sit down. That to me is the ultimate, because that's complete confidence and complete at-ease. I was raised on Cosby and (Bob) Newhart. But my influences were also all across the board. I went from Newhart to Cosby to Carlin. Steve Martin, my God. If Steve Martin ever goes out on the road for a year, I will become a groupie. I remember being a freshman in college and listening to "Let's Get Small," and I remember thinking, "Listen to that laughter and the applause." That's what got me hooked, wondering if I can do this. That was the basics of me starting.
Q: You started "Blue Collar Comedy" sometime around the mid-'90s, right?
Engvall: "The Kings of Comedy" started - they did their thing and did huge business. But I think what we did that they didn't do is we touched a group that had largely been overlooked by the media. I think it was because it was clean. We had four different types of humor. We appealed to a much broader audience. I was talking to Jeff (Foxworthy) about this, and we knew it would be successful, because I had developed a fairly large fan base, and Jeff had a huge one. But we had no idea. There were "Blue Collar" dolls! That's just creepy on a lot of levels. But we were part of something that a couple of generations will talk about. People still ask me, "You guys ever going to get back together?" That was the main focus of our discussion, and we were like, "I don't know man. Would it be the same?" You don't ever want to try to recreate magic when it just happened to be lightning in a bottle.