Comedian Bill Engvall to perform at People’s Health Clinic fundraiser
The People’s Health Clinic’s Healthy Laughs fundraiser will be held from 6-10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31, at the Chateaux Deer Valley. Tickets are $150 and they can be purchased by visiting peopleshealthclinic.org or by calling 435-333-1863.
When Bill Engvall and his wife Gail moved to Park City four years ago, they had a plan.
“We just didn’t want to live here as residents,” the comedian said. “We wanted to get involved with the community.”
The stand-up artist, who is known for his work with fellow entertainer Jeff Foxworthy on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, will put his money where his mouth is when he performs at People’s Health Clinic’s end-of-the-summer Healthy Laughs fundraiser on Aug. 31 at the Chateaux Deer Valley.
The People’s Health Clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides health care for uninsured patients who live in Summit and Wasatch counties, and Engvall is looking forward to donating his time for its fundraiser.
“I’ve been so blessed in my career to achieve the status I have, and I believe once you reach a point, it’s important to reach back and use your success to help others, organizations and individuals,” he said.
Engvall said it was easy to say “yes” because of the giving nature of Park City residents.
“That was one of the things that impressed me when Gail and I moved here,” he said. “They have a willingness to help out.”
Engvall is also a fan of comedian Rocky LaPorte, a finalist in season eight of “Last Comic Standing,” who will also perform at the fundraiser.
“I first saw him at the Comedy Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California, and when I watched him, the first thing I think is, ‘I wish I would have written that,’” Engvall said. “When I heard Rocky was on this show, it was another reason for me to say ‘I’m in,’ if only to be able to watch him.”
Engvall, who has recorded a string of albums and has appeared in various films from “Delta Farce” to “Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No,” as well as three seasons of his own sitcom, “The Bill Engvall Show,” said his desire to get people to laugh came from necessity as a child.
“When I was growing up I was never the athlete, and we moved around a lot because my dad worked for the government and was in the public health service,” he said. “Through survival, I learned to make friends quickly by being the funny guy.”
Engvall said being the funny kid was different than being a class clown.
“I was always scared I’d get in trouble, so I was more the instigator,” he said. “I would set my friends up to be the class clowns.”
Still, Engvall loved to laugh himself.
“My family had Bob Newhart records around the house, and when I went to college and discovered beer and women, I bought Steve Martin’s ‘Let’s Get Small’ album,” he said. “When I would listen to it, I heard the laughter and thought it would be cool to do that.”
After dropping out of college, the Texas native went to an open mic night in Dallas, bringing him into contact with some of comedy’s legends.
“The next thing I knew I had a job being the emcee at the comedy club,” he said. “That’s where I learned comedy from guys like Gary Shandling, Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld. They taught me how to construct an act.”
Now, after 40 years in the business, Engvall, 61, still enjoys his job.
“I love making people feel better through laughter,” he said. “I mean, think about the last time you laughed and how good it made you feel.”
One of the highlights of Engvall’s career didn’t come from his platinum-selling album or publishing his book, “Just a Guy: Notes from a Blue Collar Life.” It came from a letter a woman wrote to the owner of a comedy club in Michigan where Engvall was working.
“The woman had gone to the doctor and was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and instead of wallowing in her despair, she called her friend to go to the comedy club,” Engvall said.
The woman said she enjoyed Engvall’s set and told the club owner to relay a message that his comedy cures cancer, Engvall said.
“She had gone back to the doctor the next day and was informed she had been misdiagnosed,” Engvall said. “I know I didn’t cure her cancer, but for 60 minutes I took her mind away from the worst news anyone could get.
“Now, I don’t say this in an egotistical way at all,” he said. “I just know there’s a reason why I’m here on this Earth.”
Engvall also likes to keep his comedy clean and family-friendly.
“I also avoid topics like religion and politics,” he said. “I don’t care how good you are at telling jokes, once you tell one of those, you will alienate 50 percent of your audience. That’s not my goal. My goal is to keep 100 percent of my audience.”
Comedy. to Engvall, is “serious business.”
“I want people to leave my show knowing the world is not as bad as they thought it was,” he said. “My style of comedy is like we’re all sitting around the living room and I’m telling stories. It’s like a one-sided, 45-minute conversation.”
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