Bill Engvall has been a successful standup comedian for decades. Alongside his friends Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White and Larry The Cable Guy, he helped make the various Blue Collar Comedy Tours into smash hits.
He’s sold millions of albums, and helped “Here’s Your Sign,” become accepted in our lexicon as a way of describing stupid behavior.
But despite all of that success, he’s admittedly still kind of a doofus, which is what he’ll be talking about onstage at the Peace Center next Friday.
“Right now, I’m looking at life through my wife’s eyes,” he says of his current standup material. “I’m talking about what it’s like being married to an idiot.”
And he immediately offers up a story to illustrate what this poor woman has to put up with.
“My wife went to one of these parties where they sell lingerie and stuff,” he says. “She came home and I was watching football, and I asked her how the party was, and she said, ‘I bought you something.’ And she threw on the bed this little pair of baby blue, skimpy boxer shorts with a little pink ribbon on them.”
Engvall’s reaction left a little to be desired.
“I looked at her and I said, ‘Have you lost your mind?’” he says. “And she got mad and walked out of the room. I felt bad, because I was trying to be Mr. Funny Guy and I’d hurt her feelings. So I put them on and walked into the kitchen and said, ‘What do you think?’ And she said, ‘Good lord, Bill, I bought them for me to wear for you.”
That’s the type of good-natured, self-deprecating story that’s been bringing people to see Engvall’s standup for decades, and he knows it.
“What I’ve really stumbled upon after so many years is that the key to this is to keep it relatable,” he says. “When I talk about stuff that I do that my wife has to clean up, maybe a wife says to her husband or vice-versa, ‘Oh, you’re just like that.’ I think that’s what people want. Obviously, they want you to be funny, but they also want to know that you’re like them and that you’ve gone through the same stuff, I think that’s the key.”
Engvall says that his show is a combination of new and older material, a balance that makes both makes his fans happy and allows him to use only the best new jokes for his act.
“You want to try to get a nice mix of the old and new,” he says. “I guess there are a lot of comics that come out with 90 minutes of new material every year. Well, either you don’t have a life or it’s not all that funny. I’d rather have 20 minutes of new material that’s killer stuff than 45 minutes that’s like, ‘What was that?’”
And don’t worry about Engvall telling off-color or politically-fueled jokes. He’s not much interested in either, and he feels like most folks have probably had enough of that kind of stuff in their everyday lives.
“I don’t do political stuff or current events stuff because people get bombarded with that all day long,” he says. “My job is to provide a respite for you, a break where we can have some fun. You don’t have to be the funniest man in the room — just be funny, be clean and be relatable. I’ve found people appreciate that more than anything out of my show, and it’s what I enjoy the most. I think it’s a really simple formula: Keep it relatable, keep it clean, and keep it funny.”
If you go
- What: An Evening with Bill Engvall
- When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, 2020
- Where: Peace Center, 300 S. Main St., Greenville
- Tickets: $55-$75
- Info.: 864-467-3000, https://www.peacecenter.org