Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOBill Engvall, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOBill Engvall, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe.

Bill Engvall brings his real-life comedy to Penn’s Peak

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 by ERIN FERGUSON Special to The Press in Focus

Bill Engvall, one of the top comedians in the United States, brings his tour to Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe, at 8 p.m. Dec. 7.

As a native of Galveston, Tex., Engvall’s career in comedy started after moving to Dallas where, on a dare, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy one night at a nightclub with friends.

“I had always been a fan of comedy, but I never thought about it as a career. That night was basically a dare. I had no planned thing to do.

“I just ended up on stage and people started laughing and I figured this would be kind of cool, but I didn’t think you could do it as a job,” says Engvall in a phone interview.

He was a disc jockey with plans of becoming a teacher, but after that night he found that making people laugh was really his forte.

Shortly after that, he moved to Los Angeles 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,” appeared in several episodes of “Designing Women” and co-starred on “Delta” and “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.”

Engvall was a contestant on season 17 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and as a fan favorite, he made it to the finals.

His voice was used in the animated comedy series, “Bounty Hunters,” which aired on CMT.

He starred in and was executive producer of the TBS sitcom, “The Bill Engvall Show.”

Engvall was part of the successful “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” and concert films, which sold more than nine million units and received a Grammy nomination.

He starred on the WB’s sketch comedy show, “Blue Collar TV,” and was in several solo specials for Comedy Central.

In 2012, he reunited with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy on the “Them Idiots Whirled Tour,” which aired as a special on CMT.

“My favorite thing of all was in 1992 when I won the best male stand-up comedian award at the American Comedy Awards, not because of the award, but because they let the people vote. It was the fans who voted, not just five people in a room.

“And then my second was when I had my sitcom on TBS. I did it the way I wanted to and I was so proud of that. It was an old-fashioned comedy sitcom.”

Engvall’s first album, “Here’s Your Sign,” is certified platinum and held the No. 1 on the Billboard Comedy Chart for 15 straight weeks. His second album, “Dorkfish,” also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Comedy Chart, as did his subsequent comedy albums.

He has written several books, including his 2007 autobiography, “Bill Engvall: Just A Guy.”

Recently, Engvall wrapped up production for an upcoming movie thriller, “Monster Party.”

“This all started about two years ago when I played in the movie, ‘The Neighbor,’ and then that role led to ‘Monster Party.’ I do roles like that because for me I get to stretch myself to see how far I can go and I like to stretch my fan base as well. I want people talking.

“When the guy called me about ‘The Neighbor,’ I was like, ‘Wait. You know who I am, right? I’m the goofy sitcom father.’”

His latest comedy special, “Just Sell Him For Parts,” is available on the VUDU streaming service.

Of his Penn’s Peak show, Engvall says, “I try to touch on material that everyone goes through. I take it to the men in the audience because I’ve made the mistakes that I can save them from.

“I don’t make up stuff. I just talk about real stuff. I also put in some older stuff, but honestly the best way to describe the show is that it’s like a 90-minute one way conversation … like I’m sitting around your living room and I’m the funny guy talking.

“I know immediately if a joke works or not and there is no greater feeling than when you hit that joke and it resonates with the audience.

“It upsets me that people treat others the way that they do now. It just seems like we’ve all forgotten how to laugh. Everyone is uber sensitive about everything and it seems to me we no longer have individual views. We are either one side or the other and all I want to do is bring people together and make them laugh.”

“I think my job in this day in age is more important than ever. I think we’ve all forgotten to laugh. My job is to provide that safe zone where you can come in and laugh.

“You have your beliefs and I have mine, but we aren’t going to talk about politics and all that bad stuff. My job is to make you feel better than when you arrived.”

Tickets: Penn’s Peak box office, 325 Maury Road, Jim Thorpe; pennspeak.com; ticketmaster.com; 800-745-3000