Born in Galveston, Texas, Bill Engvall was a nightclub DJ in Dallas until the call to comedy became too strong to deny. After startling amateur-night audiences at several local clubs and a brief stint in St. Louis, Engvall arrived in Los Angeles in 1990. He hosted the Pair of Jokers cable special with Rosie O'Donnell and also appeared on Evening at the Improv and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In 1992, he was awarded Best Male Standup at the American Comedy Awards, and moved into sitcom TV with an appearance on Designing Women and a regular role on the short-lived Delta. Signed to Warner Bros. in 1996, Engvall released his countrified debut album, Here's Your Sign -- also the title of his most famed bit -- in 1996. A tour with like-minded everyman comic Jeff Foxworthy was next; that in turn led to a part on Foxworthy's sitcom that was as brief as the show itself. The Dorkfish LP followed in 1998, and Engvall saw both it and his debut achieve gold record status. His seasonal effort, Here's Your Christmas Album, appeared that same year. In mid-2000, Engvall released Now That's Awesome and embarked on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, again with Foxworthy, and also with two other comics they'd recruited, Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White. The quartet's act proved to be very popular, and the tour continued over the next several years, spawning several albums, a movie, and a cable television show along the way. Despite Blue Collar's collective success, Engvall continued releasing material on his own as well. Cheap Drunk: An Autobiography appeared in 2002, followed a year later by album number six, Here's Your Sign Reloaded. A roundup of some of Engvall's best material was released in the fall of 2004, entitled A Decade of Laughs, before his next all-new album, 15° Off Cool, surfaced in February 2007. Aged and Confused followed in 2009. The Blue Collar Comedy Tour wound down after the departure of Ron White, but in 2012 Engvall joined Foxworthy and Larry for the tour and album Them Idiots Whirled Tour. In 2013 the comedian became a contestant on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars, while 2014 saw the release of the career retrospective Ultimate Laughs.
© Johnny Loftus /TiVo
© Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Country - Released August 22, 2000 | BNA Records Label
Depending on who you talk to, Bill Engvall has made a lucrative career of either delivering a much needed dose of traditional values to comedy, or shamelessly sucking up to society's lowest common denominator. Even more than Jeff Foxworthy, Engvall has positioned himself as the anti-Seinfeld; just a regular good ol' boy trying to make it through this crazy ol' world with pickup truck and cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon intact. He, however, is no throwback to Hee Haw and The Dukes of Hazzard. He represents a new breed of middle American populist: the financially stable, goateed Republican businessman who dresses casually in well pressed, late-'80s fashions and whose truck may just be a Toyota. In other words, Engvall is the perfect comedy equivalent of the Nashville new country "hat acts," with whom he shares a record label. These artists use the most basic sound byte-style trappings of a disappearing rural America, buff them to a sickening sheen, and serve them up to a public that, while still conservative, desperately wants to distance itself from the hick image of old. In this, he succeeds. On Now That's Awesome!, he performs before a large and enthusiastic crowd who is just waiting to cheer his every affirmation of their lifestyle. Unfortunately, although the party atmosphere is palpable, this kind of setting does not often make for good comedy. Like Steve Martin on his Wild and Crazy Guy album, Engvall is forced to rely on overused catch phrases and a sort of social equivalent to the worst kind of Pavlovian political rhetoric. To his credit, he avoids using profanity to get easy laughs. Unfortunately, however, he instead relies on a Budweiser commercial vision of sexual politics, one minute telling his audience how he'd love to find a naked Shania Twain waiting in his room, and the next admitting that men are dumb. In the end, however, Now That's Awesome! fails not because it doesn't aspire to something better, but because it's simply un-funny. © Pemberton Roach /TiVo