|Bill Engvall will bring his distinctive brand of humor to Prescott Valley on March 1. |
Human beings provide more real-life material for his stand-up routines than he could ever think up on his own, said comedian Bill Engvall.
Engvall, best known for his "Here's your sign" shtick, will bring his homespun comedy to Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley on March 1 at 7 p.m.
Speaking Wednesday by phone from Utah, where he and his family were spending a long President's Day holiday at their vacation home, Engvall said he is looking forward to getting back to the Prescott area.
"I love Prescott," Engvall said. "I spent a lot of my youth in Arizona. Probably from before kindergarten to my freshman year we lived in Keams Canyon on the Navajo reservation. My dad was in public health. Then we moved to Winslow. We liked to go to Prescott because that's where the pines were, and we lived in the desert."
His initial reaction to hearing he was booked for Tim's Toyota Center was, "I'm going to perform in a car dealership parking lot? I had visions of clowns and free hot dogs."
He won't be in a parking lot, but he's had similar experiences.
He said Winslow was just like the fictional Mayberry of the Andy Griffith Show.
"It still had railroads, and airplanes didn't have jet engines then so they would stop in Winslow on the way from Los Angeles and refuel."
Wanting to show his wife, Gail, where he grew up, Bill drove through Winslow after few years' absence. His thought on seeing the depressed area was, "Who dropped the bomb?"
He wasn't sure the area really had changed that much, though.
"It was probably more like remembering through the eyes of a small child," he said. "I have all these wonderful memories."
He's returned since to do a show to raise money for Little League baseball.
"The (organizer) guy stole the money," he said, noting that's the kind of thing that supplies material for routines. "What you could make up doesn't compare to real life."
He said he recently saw his old high school for sale on eBay for $100,000.
Maybe he could turn it into the Bill Engvall Museum?
"You'd have a lot of empty rooms," he said with a laugh. "It'd be more like, 'Bill Engvall walked here.'"
He once was a serious enough student, however, to consider becoming a teacher.
What would he have taught?
"Elementary school, kindergarten through fifth grade," he answered. "They're not smart-alecky at that age."
Instead, he tried stand-up comedy and found his niche.
Appearances on such late night staples as "The Tonight Show" and "Late Show with David Letterman," led to roles on sitcoms "Delta" and "The Jeff Foxworthy Show." "Blue Collar TV," with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy spun off into a pair of successful movies.
"'Blue Collar' was a blast, but personally, I love a theater where there's not a bad seat and you can see facial expressions," he said.
His fans know him best for his jokes about awarding people an " I'm stupid" sign for asking silly questions in obvious situations.
For example: "A guy hooks up his bass boat to his Bronco and his neighbor asks, 'Hey, you goin' fishin'?'
"Without missing a beat the guy says, 'No, my Bronco conked out and I thought I'd push it to work with my boat.'
"Heeere's your sign."
He even turned "Here's Your Sign" into a hit song with Travis Tritt in 1997.
But he did NOT name his son, Travis, after the singer, he wants people to know. Travis Engvall, 18, will graduate from high school this spring and head for college in the fall. His older sister, Emily, 22, recently received her degree and got her first full-time job - at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
"She gets to work with the animals and she does fundraising for the museum," her dad said, adding, "They told her she won't be getting a raise (because of the economy) and I told her, 'Drop to your knees and thank the good Lord you have a job.'"
With both offspring soon to be out of the house, Bill said, "Me and the missus are gonna let the good times roll! We can go out to dinner whenever we want and walk around the house naked."
Travis brought a bunch of friends to Utah this week, so "the little place was crowded," Bill said.
He also said Gail told him the good thing about the empty nest is, next year they won't have to wait for school holidays to leave their home in Los Angeles.
They do have to work around Bill's television show. He resumes taping "The Bill Engvall Show," a family situation comedy, in March and wraps up in June.
Even though he enjoys stand-up, he said of his TV show, "It's a dream. I don't gripe. If people would ask, 'What do you do?' How would I answer? 'Well, I tape a TV show, have my own parking place and a big door with my name on it.'
"It's weird because I feel kind of guilty, that (in a recession), I'm still able to go and make a TV show."
But he realizes his job is "to keep them laughing."
So, shortly before he turns 52 this summer, he's shooting a new special called, "Aged and Confused." It's about what it sounds like - the little annoyances that crop up and creep up with the passing years.
"Am I the only one seeing this?" he said of the lapses in memory, aches and pains and general aggravation of the aging process. "I'm worried I'm going to become that grouchy old guy. My theory is that the good Lord above in heaven is shaking his head, thinking he had it good with the monkeys."
Bill said his stand-up material, like the show he will bring to Prescott Valley, is reverting to the time before he had kids.
"It's going to be a real fun show for me. Most of my material revolved around the kids. It was cute when they were little, but now, at 22 and 18, the things they do are not so cute. I'm writing more material about the empty nest thing, and it's been a lot of fun to write."
For example, he said, "There's no one to deflect attention away from me at all (at home). My wife will say, 'Why don't we go for a walk?' and my response is, 'Can't we drive?'"
"I knew I was getting older when I started tying knots on the side of my shoes, because I couldn't bend to reach the top."
But birthdays aren't bothering him.
"We've got the greatest life," he said. "I've been doing stand-up for 30 years; it's a wonderful job to bring laughter to people."
Bill Engvall said he will continue entertaining as long as he can.
"I'm not trained to do anything else," he said, and you just know he had that huge, eye-squinching grin on his face.