My big pop culture crime: I have seen only one Jennifer Lawrence movie (the “X-Men” one). I understand she’s some kind of beloved movie star/America’s sweetheart? Treasure Island headliner Bill Engvall tells me she’s also a real nice “redneck.”
He means redneck in a good way.
Engvall, who performs stand up at TI on Friday, is the redneck royalty who gave Lawrence her first break when she was cast on his 2007-2009 TBS sitcom “The Bill Engvall Show.”
The other day, I told Engvall, “I read an interview with Jennifer Lawrence in which she drank beer.”
“Oh yeah, she’s a little redneck like the rest of us,” Engvall said.
“Bless her little heart, to this day, she still gives me credit for giving her her first job. A lot of people don’t do that. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
“I’m not gonna lie to her. We don’t sit there every day saying, ‘Hey Jen, what’s up?’ If we saw each other on the street, we would definitely stop and yak and catch up.”
Engvall is in talks with TV people lately, possibly to get on a new show. He has no illusions A-list Lawrence will be on that show.
“Uh, yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” he said and laughed.
“I tell ya what. After a year on that show, I knew we’d be writing the episode where she went off to college because she is so good and so talented, the movie business was gonna snatch her up.”
Engvall said his bid to return to television was helped by starring on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” last year.
Engvall isn’t ashamed to say, “I miss being on TV.”
“Listen, I love stand-up. But when you’re on a sitcom, you sleep in your own bed, you go to work, and you have the weekend off unless you’re like me and you tour on weekends.”
There are only two downsides to being on a TV show, he said.
First downside: “When I’m doing stand-up, I’m the boss. When you’re doing sitcoms, you may have some 20-something telling you what they think is funny, and you’re, like, ‘Ugh, OK.’ ”
The second downside would be TV critics.
“Did I ever tell you the story that I called a critic?”
No, what’s this story going to be about?
“When I had my show on TBS, the guy at the Sacramento Bee wrote this scathing review. It almost got personal, like: Why would TBS do this? We’ve seen this a million times. It sucks.
“I had had one of those days. I called him.”
Engvall recalls saying, “Hey, it’s Bill Engvall,” and the critic saying, “Oh, uh, hey.”
“I go, ‘What’s your problem? If you don’t like my show, then just say, “Hey, it wasn’t for me.” But why don’t you not make a decision for the whole country?’ ”
Engvall read lines from the negative review back to the critic, and he made an emotional case:
“Have I done something to you personally? I’m out there doing the best job I know how to do. I’m doing what I’m given, writing-wise. It’s a clean family show. I’m sorry you’ve got a problem with that.”
Engvall said he wasn’t rude to the critic.
But Engvall does point out that by panning “The Bill Engvall Show,” that critic also panned Jennifer Lawrence, America’s sweetheart.
“It shows you what he knew,” Engvall said.
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.