Texas native Bill Engvall was spinning records at a Dallas strip club when he went to a comedy club with a few buddies. After a “few rounds of liquid encouragement,” Engvall took the stage, made lots of people laugh and was quickly offered a house MC gig for the club.
Now the popular comedian has co-headlined a national tour (“The Blue Collar Comedy Tour”), released several albums (including “Here’s Your Sign”), starred in his own TBS sitcom and authored best-selling books. In his latest venture, Engvall hosts the "My Two Cents" podcast. Engvall will perform Nov. 5 at North Tonawanda’s historic Riviera Theatre.
Question: Have you been to Buffalo before?
Answer: Yes. I remember being as cold as I’ve ever been in my life. I think I was with the “Blue Collar” guys. I was in our hotel and looked out the window. The sun was shining but nobody was walking around. I knew it was cold, so I put on my jacket and went outside. Oh my God, it was like an instantaneous freeze. Now I know why no one is outside. But I had a great time up there in Buffalo. The people love to laugh, which makes my job easy.
Q: As you travel around the country, do you notice many differences between the crowds in Buffalo versus an audience in Texas?
A: They’re pretty much all the same, just different accents. The people I would call my demographic are just good old, hardworking people. They put a roof over their family’s head, food on the table and get jobs. We all do the same dumb stuff, either as a parent, husband, wife or whatever. I can always tell when I’ve written a good joke because I can see the husband elbowing the wife, “Oh, that’s you right there.”
Q: Here in Buffalo, a lot of amateur comics are inspired by the misery six months of cold weather and the Buffalo Bills team brings. What inspires a Texas comic?
A: The stuff that inspires me is like the show I’m bringing in there. The tour is called “Just Sell Him for Parts” and comes off my experience on “Dancing with the Stars” and having to have my knee replaced, then getting shingles and a kidney stone. Then my wife went through menopause. It’s just everyday stuff that you wouldn’t think would be funny, but everybody goes through it.
Q: In a previous interview, you said that you can’t anticipate what is going to be a catchphrase. What do you think of the enduring popularity of “Here’s your sign?”
A: Nobody just sits down and writes something that everybody’s going to remember. It was just one of those perfect storms. I was at a grocery store with my wife, and the clerk couldn’t do something on the cash register. The manager came over and didn’t look at me. He (told the clerk), “You just have to do this. Here’s your sign.” I was like, “Oh my God.”
But the funny thing was that everybody thought that (Jeff) Foxworthy did it, because nobody knew my name then. But why it’s lasted this long? I don’t know. But we’ve got the holidays coming up, and the “Here’s Your Sign” Christmas song is become like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” It’s very cool to know that it’s become part of the comedy lore of this country.
Q: Who’s the most recent person you thought needed a sign?
A: Oh God, anybody in this whole political election. I would have run out of signs.
When: 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Nov. 5
Where: Rivera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda