Archived Story

‘Here’s Your Sign’ comedian coming to Berrien Youth Fair

Published 12:10am Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bill Engvall may have a TV, film and recording career spanning nearly 30 years, but that doesn’t mean he’s too good for a county fair.
“I gotta tell ya,” he explained during a phone interview Tuesday, “I love it, especially fairs. I think fairs are such a part of Americana. Take your kids to fairs, because if you lose that, you lose a huge part of Americana.”
The Southern California resident, scheduled to perform Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Berrien County Youth Fair, was active in FFA and 4-H in his youth.
“It was just such a fun time,” Engvall said. “The kids are now into video games.”
Engvall’s career shot to stardom when in 1996 he released his debut comedy album “Here’s Youth Sign,” recorded at a comedy club in Royal Oak, Mich. His trademark “Here’s Your Sign” routine uses the tag to refer to people’s stupidity. He and his companions on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour — Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy — also had similar routines related to everyday life.
His career started early, although he went to college to become a teacher. In fact, Engvall says, if he hadn’t become a comedian, he could have been “some small-town teacher coaching baseball.”
“If you had a really great teacher, you can remember their name,” he said. “I think I would have been a great teacher.
“We said, ‘go with God,’ you know,” Engvall said.
Although the Blue Collar Comedy Tour has ended its run, Engvall still appears occasionally with his former co-stars, and has moved into more TV shows and film, most recently the Hallmark movie “A Kiss at Pine Lake” and the TV show “Hawthorne” with actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
“I would love to have my own drama series. I love doing drama,” Engvall said. “I love doing stuff that people go, ‘wow, I didn’t know you could do that.’”
But no matter when or where he performs, Engvall always keeps his act the same — no politics, no religion and always relate to the average person.
“When you talk about religion or politics, you automatically cut out 50 percent of your audience,” Engvall explained. “I took my cue from guys like Cosby and Newhart.”
“I think people just respond to stuff that happens everyday,” he said, giving an example: “My wife has got me on this diet, and I’m a junk food guy. I look for excuses to get out of the house so I can go to McDonald’s. I said I’m having an affair; my wife said (it must be with) Little Debbie or the girl from Wendy’s.”
His relationship with his wife, he said, has survived through his rigorous celebrity schedule, and he believes it may have even strengthened their marriage.
“I think the road is what’s kept us together,” he said. “Gail is great; she’s my best friend. Now that the kids are gone, sometimes she’ll come with me.”
Engvall said although he has been on numerous tours, his material changes frequently.
“If you go see Aerosmith, you hope they play ‘Walk this Way’ or ‘Back in the Saddle.’ With comedy, once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it,” he said.
Those who attend his show Aug. 18 can expect “good old-fashioned Bill Engvall humor,” he said. “I’m in a phase in my life where I’m on the south side of 55 now.
“Come on our sit back relax and get ready to have fun,” he said.
The Bill Engvall show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $40, $35 & $25 each, available at www.bcyf.org; at the fair office in Berrien Springs; or by phone at (877) 772-5425.

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