Comedian Bill Engvall earned new fans by performing well on “Dancing with the Stars” this season. He wants them to know that he runs “a good clean show” at Treasure Island.
“It’s not ‘Disney on Ice,’ but there’s not swearing in it,” says Engvall, who performs stand-up at T.I. on Friday.
Engvall’s family-oriented act is about being married for 35 years, raising kids and getting older. Here’s something you don’t hear often from comedians:
“I want people to walk out with a good feeling, and not a feeling like, ‘Well it was funny, but I wish we hadn’t brought Mom to this.’ ”
He’d rather see a crowd of husbands and wives, and moms and dads, “than a bunch of drunks just wanting me to cuss and tell dirty stories.”
That rules out some degenerates I know. But it rules in a lot of family-oriented locals and tourists always looking for entertainment fitting their traditional sensibilities.
Engvall made it to the finals of “Dancing with the Stars,” largely on his loyal fan base and viewers who liked his personality and effort.
His wife, Gail, was there all along. But Engvall noticed some pretty ladies on set. So after the second week, he called his 22-year-old son with this tip.
“I said, ‘I’m going to give you fatherly advice. Get in dance classes right now. Guys that can dance — girls find it so sexy. And they get women that we’re not allowed to see!’ ”
Coincidentally, I started taking a ballroom dance class a month ago. I love the hell out of it. So Engvall and I compared dance cards. We agree on this point first:
“I wish I had done it earlier,” Engvall says. “It’s really cool to be able to say, ‘I can do the foxtrot,’ or ‘I know how to do the Viennese waltz or the Argentine tango.’ There’s not many dudes that can say that.”
Engvall lost weight on the TV show.
“I started this thing wearing a size 35 jeans. I’m down to a 31 or 32 now. I lost 25 pounds.”
And Engvall started his lessons from scratch.
“The only dancing I had ever done before this was honky-tonk dancing with a beer in one hand and a girl in the other.
“But I’ll tell ya what, dude, this has been the funnest thing I’ve done in my professional career.”
To Engvall, learning the waltz was an easy day.
“It’s just a box step, plus you learn little things to be better, like how to dip a girl. That’s the difference between a good dancer and just a dancer.”
The “brutal” dance was the quickstep.
“It is literally a sprint around the dance floor. Imagine running a 40-yard dash, but while you’re running as fast as you can, you’ve got to do these dance steps and stay in time with the music.”
Engvall’s least favorite moves?
“I’m not a fan of these angry dances, where you look away from women, like the tango. If I’m going to dance with a pretty girl, I want to look at her and hold her tight.”
Sadly, Engvall will not bring his new skills to the stage at Treasure Island.
“Nah,” he says. “I’m back to being good old Bill the comedian.
“My body hurts. My knee hurts. My groin got pulled. But through that, I laughed and I had the best time.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.