Comedian Bill Engvall - You don't have to be dumb to be stupid

January 21, 1998


Staff Writer

Although Bill Engvall's "Here's your sign" line seems to be on everyone's lips lately, the comedian said he's been doing the famous routine for 10 years.

According to Engvall, some people should wear "I'm stupid" warning signs.

Here's one example:

Someone sees a dead deer strapped to the top of a car, and he turns to his companion and says, "Do you think he's been hunting?"

"No, they're giving them away with the purchase of every vehicle," the companion replies. "Here's your sign."

Engvall, 40, said no one is exempt.

"Everyone has asked a stupid question or given a smart-aleck answer," Engvall said.


That includes him.

He said he and his wife, Gail, were coming out of a mall when they saw a guy using a coat hanger on his car window.

Engvall wondered if the man was locked out of his car, and the man said he'd just washed it and was hanging it up to dry.

"We talk before we think what to say," Engvall said.

Engvall captures other slices of life in his first album, "Here's Your Sign," which has sold about 700,000 copies. The single with the same name also has been certified gold.

While "sign" language has boosted his popularity, Engvall said it only is a small part of his act. He draws his material from everyday experiences, including topics such as family life, children and animals.

Engvall gives his show a PG rating, and area fans can see him perform Saturday, Jan. 24, at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown. He said he discusses adult situations, but in a very clean way.

"It's like an hour and a half of listening to the kid next door talk," Engvall said.

He said his daughter, Emily, is "11 going on 30," and his 6-year-old son, Travis, thinks it's cool that his father is onstage.

"His teacher asked 'What does your dad do?' and he said 'Oh, stupid stuff,' " Engvall said.

Engvall addresses what it's like to raise kids in his latest single, "It's Hard to Be a Parent."

He collaborated with country performers Travis Tritt on "Here's Your Sign" and John Michael Montgomery on the follow-up single "Warning Signs," but he said he's not musically inclined.

"I was singing in the shower, and my wife came in and said 'Stop singing. You're scaring the animals,' " Engvall said.

The Engvalls share their Los Angeles home with two dogs, four cats and six fish.

He said many people in his audiences are blue-collar, working folks.

"They're nice family people who invite me to their houses for barbecue or to spend the night," Engvall said.

Engvall, who has been doing stand-up comedy for 15 years, said he has developed a reputation as a nice guy.

He planned to be a teacher, but he never graduated from college.

"I discovered women and beer, and my study habits went right out the door," he said.

He got a job at a comedy club, and he began to take his humor seriously.

Engvall won the 1992 American Comedy Award for Best Stand-Up Comedian. His acting credits include "Designing Women" and "Golden Palace," and he also appeared with Delta Burke on the sitcom "Delta." He later teamed with his good friend Jeff Foxworthy on "The Jeff Foxworthy Show."

Engvall hopes to land a comedy series of his own, and he said if it doesn't happen soon he probably will return to his native Texas. He'd also like to star in a Western.

His book, "You Don't Have to Be Dumb to Be Stupid," was released in May and is an extension of some of his favorite comedy bits. His second comedy album is due out in August.

He loves physical comedy, and his favorite television show is the irreverent Comedy Central cartoon "South Park."

"I'm the guy that laughs when somebody trips," he said.

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