When Bill Engvall served as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars in 2013, he was a fan favorite. Engvall suffered the usual slew of injuries, but he was inspired. In November, he released the comedy special Just Sell Him for Parts, dedicated to the time on Dancing and afterward.
“The title came out of my experience on Dancing with the Stars,” says Engvall, a Texan who spent his junior high school years in Winslow.
“I tore my groin, pulled a hamstring and messed up my knee during the run of it. After it, I had to have my knee replaced. Two weeks later, I had shingles. Two weeks after that, I had a kidney stone. I told my wife that I didn’t even want to go to the doctor anymore. I was afraid they’d look at me and say they’re going to sell me for parts.”
He chalks it up to a divine mistake.
“That’s the only place God messed up,” he says. “When we turn 50, we should have been rewarded, as opposed to, ‘You’re 50 and life is going to start sucking now.’”
Engvall, who will soon turn 60, surpassed the troubles and is returning to Arizona to hit the stages at the Fox Tucson Theatre and Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale on Saturday, May 20, and Friday, June 9, respectively.
“I still have friends in the area,” Engvall says. “I’ve always liked Arizona, so those are really easy jobs for me. I’ll get my Arizona fix.”
Engvall is one of the most successful entertainers in the business, having been a part of the Blue Collar Comedy concert films and several television shows and movies. The former DJ is also a multiplatinum, Grammy-nominated recording artist. Engvall, who lives in Utah with his wife, says his age and experiences are catching up to him.
“I have been doing the standup thing for 35 years,” he says. “Unfortunately, times are changing. I just released a record, but it’s all digital streaming now. People my age and older, unfortunately, don’t know what digital streaming is. I say to go to Vudu and people look at you like, ‘What?!’ That’s been a difficult transition for me.”
Sure, it’s confusing to him, but it’s great fodder for shows.
“When I come down there, one of my opening jokes is about my complete hatred of cellphones,” he says. “They’ve ruined our society. I just see us heading down a rabbit hole that we’re never going to come out of. Pretty soon they’ll be putting chips in our heads when we’re born.”
Engvall says he recalls actually dialing phones and chatting with friends and family. If they weren’t available, he left messages. No texting; no social media.
“I was telling my wife the other day, I’m so glad I grew up in a period that wasn’t like this,” he says. “I grew up in the no cellphone, no social media kind of world.
“I’m in a real transitionary phase. In this transition, I’m trying to accept this new world, while hanging on to mine and I’m losing. We’ve become this ‘I gotta have it right now’ generation. I don’t know where we’re headed, but it’s made for some great material.”
He shares this at his shows and as part of his weekly podcast, My 2 Cents.
“That’s basically what it is: My 2 cents,” he says. “I did one last night where I talked about where we were when certain events happened. I can go back in my life and pick big events that happened, like the JFK assassination or the first man on the moon, and know exactly where I was.”
The topic came on the heels of a comment made by Jim Nantz about golf fans remembering where they were when Sergio Garcia won the 2017 Masters.
“He won a golf tournament,” he emphasizes. “It wasn’t like the second coming here. Sometimes I have guests on my show. I set it up like I’m sitting around the breakfast table having coffee and talking about the subject of the day. If there’s a dog barking in the background, fine.”
The career pace is also fine for Engvall.
“I’m at that age when if someone wants to give me a TV show, great,” he says. “If not, that’s fine, too. I don’t live and die by that anymore. I would like to try a TV series again, or maybe do independent movies to keep the acting up.
“Other than that, I’m just digging life. We live up in Utah. I’m ready for the warm weather to get here so I can hike, bike, fish, camp and play golf. I’m a big outdoors person.”
Engvall admits that the aging process is still a little concerning.
“But there’s a great peace that comes with it,” he says. “I’m not 30. I don’t care what people think anymore. When I’m 85, they’ll say, ‘Well, he’s 85. He’s earned the right to say that.’”
Bill Engvall, Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress, Tucson, foxtucson.com, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, $35-$89; Talking Stick Resort, 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, 800.745.3000, ticketmaster.com, 8 p.m. Friday, June 9, $45-$120.