Last time Bill Engvall was in the Buffalo area was just prior to the 2016 presidential election. Now he returns to North Tonawanda’s Riviera Theatre on Nov. 18, just after the hotly contested midterms. Despite the coincidental timing, Engvall promises audiences a hilarious break from all the national debate.
“In my show, there is no politics,” Engvall said during a recent phone interview. “No matter how good you write a (political) joke, you’re immediately going to make 50 percent of your audience hate you, if not more. What’s worked out for me is because I’m not political or have religious overtones, and there’s no cussing, it’s a nice respite for people to come out and see the show. They leave and think, ‘Maybe things aren’t as bad as we thought they were.’”
The Blue Collar Comedy tour veteran has been keeping busy since the end of his TBS sitcom, “The Bill Engvall Show.” Engvall has a role in the new film “Monster Party.” His latest special, “Just Sell Him for Parts,” was released on VUDU, but he admits it’s not the most visible platform for him.
“The people who have seen (the special) really enjoy it,” Engvall said. “We put this out on the streaming VUDU service, and half my fans don’t know how to get to it. I don’t know how to get to it.”
With direct downloads and streaming services, the path to releasing comedy specials is both easier, thanks to companies hungry for content, and harder, because there are so many new shows and specials and so little time. Engvall said he’ll try to release the special on a platform like iTunes once his contract with VUDU expires.
“The whole entertainment field has changed,” he said. “Television is in big trouble, because the kids are watching it on their phones and iPads. In television, people keep running out of ideas. It’s a signal to me that unless you’re writing a show about people coming back from the dead and eating other people, I don’t know what you write about anymore.”
While Engvall is interested in more opportunities – it would be nice to ride around with Jerry Seinfeld on his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” show, for example – he said he's also satisfied with how his career has gone. He’s not sure why there is a disconnect between the Blue Collar comedians and their peers working out of New York or Los Angeles.
“I’m not sure if the perception is that we’re not as hip or cool, but at this point in my career, I don’t really have time to waste with it,” Engvall said. “I remember the first time I went to the Montreal Comedy Festival, and there were all these young, hip comedians. A newspaper article came out up there saying, ‘Television is looking for the new fresh faces, but the only ones making noise are Bill Engvall and Ron White.’ Sometimes the blue collar thing is easy to overlook, but the proof is in the pudding: I’m in my 40th year doing this, and a lot of those hip, young comedians have gone by the wayside.”
4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. Tickets are $54-$64. Visit rivieratheatre.org