In the reporting world, it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.
“Hey Jack, this is Bill Engvall,” said a familiar-sounding voice on the other end of my cell phone. And “Jack” it would be, as I didn’t have the heart to tell him my name is Jeff. Besides, that could be perceived as rude, so I would have to live with it — Jack, it was.
Engvall, the Galveston native who now lives in Park City, Utah, will be coming back to Biloxi on Friday for an 8 p.m. show at the IP Casino Resort. Tickets start at $45 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
It’s been almost a year since Engvall last played the IP. Since his last appearance, he has started his own podcast “My 2 Cents” with PodcastOne. He also has a new comedy special “Just Sell Him for Parts” that is streaming on the VUDU platform.
You’re coming back to Biloxi. Are you going to play any golf when you’re here?
I won’t be bringing the golf clubs this time. You know, I have a real relationship with the people of the Coast. I don’t know if it’s because they appreciate a good, clean comedy show or because I don’t do politics or religion, but whatever it is, I love it and I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I just don’t do that stuff because they hear the political stuff all day long and it drives me crazy when I hear about people using the stage as a way to further drive their agenda. If you want to meet me in a diner and talk politics, I’ll do that all day long. But when people are paying money to see me, I just do my show.
Are you still enjoying doing your podcast?
A: I love it. You know, Jack, when I come to a place like Biloxi, I have an outline of what I want to do. “My 2 Cents” is as unprofessional as it can be. We don’t know what we are going to talk about until we turn that mic on. Hopefully it’s funny, but sometimes it’s informative.
What’s weird about doing the podcast is you think that it would be easy for me, but you have to sit there for 45 minutes and talk to no one. I can talk for 90 minutes, during my shows, but talking to no one is weird.
You’ve had some great guests. Is there any interview that stands out?
Yes. When I interviewed Les Stroud, “The Survivorman,” it was fascinating. I’m not a “doomsdayer,” but I’m intrigued by survivalists. We’ve all wondered, “Could I last out in the woods by myself?” and I asked him what not to bring and he said, “A wristwatch, because when the sun goes down, it’s time to go to sleep.”
I enjoyed the one you did with my buddy, Mark Chesnutt.
I love Mark. You know, it’s funny because I’ve interviewed several country people, and I always ask them the same question, “Do you think country is losing its identity?” and they all say, “Yes.” It’s almost like people are embarrassed to be country or it’s a springboard for the pop market, and I think country is really hurting because of this.” I used to could tell you when a song came on the radio who it was, within the first two notes. Now, I have no idea.
Let me pose that question to you — do you think comedy is losing its identity?
I do, yeah. But I say it with this caveat — unless you’ve done it as a long as I have and you’ve established your personality. I think a lot of comedians are starting to sound alike. For lack of a better term, I call them the “cup of coffee comic” because there’s no joke to it — “I took my dog down to Starbucks . . .” Yeah? Where’s the joke?
I also learned from some of the greats like Leno and Seinfeld and Shandling and those guys. I think a lot of comics today try to be what is called a “comic’s comic,” because they play to the comics at the back of the room. That may be fine, but that doesn’t pay your bills.
You mentioned Gary Shandling, who was one of my favorites. I can’t believe we live in a world where Gary Shandling is gone.
That was probably the biggest shock to the comedy world because it was out of the blue. It wasn’t like he had been sick or anything. Gary Shandling is one of the top two of my favorite comics. My favorite joke he did, and it still makes me laugh out loud, is, “It’s been so long since I’ve been with a woman that I just shave one of my legs so that when I’m in bed, it feels like I’m with a woman.”
Tell me about your new tour — is it a completely new show?
When you’re doing a show, you’re doing it for about a year before you tape it. I try to bring in new material every time I come back to a place. Here’s what’s interesting to me about comedy — if we go see Aerosmtih, on the way we’re like, “I hope they play ‘Walk This Way’ or ‘Sweet Emotion.’” With comedians, you walk a really fine line of new material and old material. With comedy, once you’ve told the joke, they’ve heard it. But you have to give them what they want, so there will be some new stuff and some stuff people want to hear.
If you go
IP Casino at 850 Bayview Ave. in Biloxi
8 p.m. Friday
Tickets start at $45 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.