William Ray Engvall Jr. (born July 27, 1957) is a stand-up comedian and actor from the state of Texas. He is best known for his "Here's Your Sign" jokes, in which he states that people who ask stupid questions should be given signs that say "I'm Stupid" so you won't rely on them. Of course, he has a snappy rejoinder to the stupid questions asked of him.
Engvall rose to prominence in the 1990s alongside fellow comedian, close friend and labelmate Jeff Foxworthy. The two experienced a second wind of popularity when they partnered with Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White to form the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. He had his own sitcom, The Bill Engvall Show, which aired on TBS for three seasons. The show co-starred Nancy Travis and Jennifer Lawrence.
He now hosts a podcast, which can be found on his website.
In 2021, he announced his retirement as a touring comic, saying he wishes to spend more time with his family.
- Here's Your Sign (1996)
- Dorkfish (1998)
- Here's Your Christmas Album (1999)
- Now That's Awesome (2000)
- Cheap Drunk: An Autobiography (2002)
- Here's Your Sign Reloaded (2003)
- A Decade of Laughs (2004)
- 15° Off Cool (2007)
- Aged and Confused (2009)
- Ultimate Laughs (2014)
Tropes present in Engvall's work:
- Afraid of Needles: In one sketch, he recounts the time he went in for an acupuncture session to see if it would help him stop smoking. His first question to the acupuncturist was "Will it hurt?" Just as she tells him no, he hears a man in another room yelling in pain, and she says that the other man is "a big baby".
- "I'm a big baby!"
- Album Title Drop: Inverted; most of his albums are named for punchlines appearing on them.
- All Men Are Perverts: Used frequently. For example, when his daughter asks him to pick up some Barenaked Ladies, many of his "I'm a guy" bits, the sea-shell bikini incident, the coconut bikini incident.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Here's Your Sign Christmas," set to the tune of "Jingle Bells" and interspersed with Christmas-themed "Here's your sign" jokes. His Christmas album zig-zags this, as it contains a few truly sentimental songs interspersed with the likes of "A Gift That She Don't Want" and "Fruitcake Makes Me Puke". (Despite his name being on the album, the songs are largely sung by studio vocalists, with Bill's comedy bits mixed in.)
- Ask a Stupid Question...: The "Here's Your Sign" routine (where he imagines handing out a sign reading "I'm stupid" to everyone who poses one).I was walking my dog the other day. My neighbor says "You walking your dog?" I said "Nope, I was walking the leash. Dang dog just crashed right into it."
I was driving a new car back home; the price stickers are still on the windows. Someone pulls up next to me and says "You get a new car?" I said "Nope, new tires. Car came with it."
I'm in the park, flying a kite with my son. Kite's hanging right up there in the air. A passerby comes up to us and says "Y'all flyin' a kite?" I said "Nope, fishing for birds."
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Deliberately invoked and discussed by him.We could walk into a Chinese restaurant right here in Chicago. And the waiter could have been born here, raised here, went to college here, he has never left the city limits. I'm the idiot that walks in that restaurant and goes [in exaggerated Chinese] "Uh, yes. I'll have fried rice. Egg roll..." And you can see him go "I am so going to spit in your food, I swear to God." And it drives my daughter crazy. 'Cause she goes, "Why do you do that? That is so insulting to them!"
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Referenced in a sketch about parent-teacher conferences. The teacher asks if there's a history of ADD in the family, and Bill says "Yes, we add, subtract, multiply... why are you spelling it?" His wife then says, "M-O-R-O-N. She means attention deficit disorder." And by that point, Bill is looking out the window at birds.
But I got ADD so bad I am going Oh flight helmet!....Shiny thing!
- He comes close to saying this trope by name when discussing his orientation for the fighter plane ride along.
- Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Bill's idea of a good golf shot is little off.So finally, on about the fifteenth tee, I hit the drive of my life. And any of you people who play golf, you know the drive I'm talking about. The minute you hit it, you just drop your club. You hang on to the beer, let's don't get stupid. And I watch this ball just go and go and . . . kind of hit this guy in the head. And I felt bad, but he overreacted, I thought. I mean, it wasn't like a square hit; it just kind of glanced off his head. But he goes whippin' his car off the freeway, like "here we go!" Mr. Attitude! So now, he's barreling down the fairway screaming at the top of his lungs, like "what are you, some kind of cruddy golfer?" I'm like, "hey, I hit you, didn't I? You were traveling sixty-five miles an hour. That's a pretty good shot in my book."
- Borrowed Catch Phrase: One of the Blue Collar Comedy albums has the other three comedians each telling a "here's your sign" joke of their own.
- Similarly, in one of the shows, Bill tells one of Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck..." jokes. Specifically, "If you've ever opened a beer during a eulogy, you might be a redneck." When someone asks if that actually happened, he claimed his Uncle Jack did it. However, he later said that his Uncle Jack told him to take it back because it wasn't during the eulogy, it was during the benediction.
- Bowdlerized: Possibly. His reaction to his wife scaring off a prize specimen of a deer the one time he took her deer hunting comes to one of two endings.
- That... is the only time I've ever pushed a woman out of a tree.
- ORThat is the only time I've ever had a deer laugh at me.
- Brick Joke: On the Dorkfish album, he laughs at the fact that some places sequestered smokers to their own rooms. Later, he said that he always wondered how lions know which is the weakest zebra of the herd. He figured that there must be a quisling zebra who secretly directs the lions to the weakest members, like Bob... who smokes.
- Butt-Monkey: Bill's wife, Gail, is the butt of many of his jokes almost as much as... well, as Bill himself. His kids, particularly his son, are not exempt from the trope, either.
- Call-Back: A feature of his longer routines. Frequently takes the form of an Unusual Euphemism introduced early in the show which becomes the go-to term in later stories.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Bill himself, by his own admission. Which explains how he went to "Vicodinland" on half a pill and a 'Bahama Mama.' He even has a song on one album entitled "Cheap Drunk" pointing out he can get plastered by a couple of beers.
- Catchphrase: "Here's your sign," named for his routines where he gives snappy answers to stupid questions. The "signs" in question say "I'm Stupid" so people will know not to rely on anyone who wears them.
- Christmas Songs: Here's Your Christmas Album has a few songs that include either lyrics that he wrote himself, or samples of his comedy, backed by session vocalists and musicians.
- Comically Missing the Point: On trying to quit smoking: "I tried the gum, I couldn't keep it lit. Tried the patches and they pulled all the skin off my lips."
- In a similar vein, "I got off cigarettes by using the patches. Got off the patches by smoking cigars. Got off cigars by doing crack."
- Cool Old Guy: Despite Bill's insistence that he's actually an utter dork, he now officially qualifies for this trope at age 60.
- Distracted by the Sexy: He discusses looking at colleges with his daughter:Bill: I'll tell you, it's a real slap in the face when you walk onto a college campus with your daughter and you catch some guy checking her out. (murmurs of agreement) Yeah. Then I realized it was a slap in the face; my wife caught me checking out college chicks. (laughter) "Sorry, I'm a guy."
- The Ditz: One sign-winner he brings up once asked him, on the first floor of a building, if the elevator he was waiting on went up. Bill jokingly informs the poor sap that this one goes sideways, and that the "up" elevators are down the hall.HE WALKED AWAY!!
- Drives Like Crazy: "I got a 16-year-old daughter who just got her driver's license. So you should all drop to your knees and thank the good Lord above that you live here and not where we live."
- Of course, she probably got it from him. After all, he is the guy, according to Jeff Foxworthy, that came up with the idea of unloading the bed of a pick-up truck by driving really fast in reverse with the tail-gate down and slamming on the brakes.
- Early Installment Weirdness: He has a slower and more relaxed delivery on his earlier albums. Also, his debut album Here's Your Sign has the "here's your sign" jokes right in the middle, as opposed to at or near the end, with the segment itself drifting off-topic into another segment about stupid product warnings.
- Epic Fail: He asked for a motorcycle for his birthday. His wife gave him a scooter.
- The Eponymous Show: Just like Foxworthy, Engvall had a self-titled sitcom. It lasted three seasons on TBS.
- False Reassurance: Does this on a couple of his acts. Like when talking about backing into another car in the parking lot.It wasn't that big of a deal and there was no damage. (Beat) To my truck; his Ford Escort got messed up a little bit.
- Fetish Retardant: Invoked in one skit, where Bill questions why anyone would consider spanking a turn-on. Bill mentions that he could never seriously ask his wife to spank him, because she'd ask what he did to deserve it.
- Fluffy the Terrible: In one skit he talks about dating a girl who owned a boa constrictor she'd named Fluffy.
- Fun with Acronyms: According to one skit, he thinks Spam stands for "Stuff Posing As Meat". He also says that RV doesn't mean "recreational vehicle", it stands for "ruins vacations". Then there was this little conversation with his daughter following a minor fender bender.Emily: This wouldn't have happened if you used SMOG.Bill: SMOG?Emily: Signal, Mirrors, Over the shoulder, then Go.Bill: They teach you that in Driver's Ed? How about this one: SUIT. S-U-I-T. Shut Up, Ignorant Teenager!
- Gargle Blaster: Apparently, Bahama Mama + Vicodin = drunk parasailing.
- Heroic BSoD: A few. One of the more notable one is when his wife asks him on the way home from his son's baseball practice to pick up 'feminine products' for his daughter.Bill: I'm not in right now If you'll leave your name and number —
Bill: Please don't make me do this!
- Hidden Track: On Here's Your Christmas Album, a rock version of the earlier song "Fruitcake Makes Me Puke" appears, preceded by a narration from Bill.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- At least twice, he has given himself a sign: once, when confronting someone with a coat hanger in his window ("Did you lock your keys in your car?" "No, I just washed it, I'm gonna hang it out to dry.") and another time when talking to his son ("Dad, I'm gonna play you a song from Harry Potter." "The movie?" "No, the book.")
- Another time he gave it to himself was when he and his wife noticed a woman wearing a coconut bra. ("Oh, my god! Do you think those are real?" "The way they're jiggling around, probably." "The coconuts!" "Well, here's my sign!").
- Hypocritical Humor: To his son: "Hey!" *smack* "We don't hit."
- I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Used as justification for why men do dumb stuff generally.
- Idealized Sex: Referenced in a skit on his first album, where he points out that he learned from experience the differences between idealized and real sex. For instance, apparently you can't rip a woman's panties off unless there's already a hole in them, and rolling off the bed onto the floor doesn't spice things up, it just results in pain.
- Insult Backfire: Invoked, in anticipation of his wife buying him a motorcycle he bought riding gear along with a helmet with the words "If you don't like America you can kiss my ass!" written on it.She shows up with a SCOOTER! You can't tell someone to kiss your ass on a scooter, 'cause they just might!
- Intoxication Ensues: His trip to "Vicodinland," caused by taking half a Vicodin, forgetting about it, and then imbibing a rum drink. Which leads to him randomly going parasailing with a stranger. The sudden coming-down led Bill to have a massive Freak Out.Bill: "That sounds superb, my friend! I've never seen Vicodinland from 300 feet in the air before!" [...] At 300 feet, the rope jerked — and apparently, this was enough of a jerk to jerk me out of Vicodinland and into Realityland. I'm 300 feet in the air. I'm scared of heights. [...] I literally walked on water, ran back to my hotel room, ate the other half of the Vicodin, and watched Animal Planet.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Three of the "songs" featuring his comedy routines set to music — "Warning Signs", "Hollywood Indian Guides", and "It's Hard to Be a Parent" — were only ever shipped to radio without ever getting a commercial release (although "Hollywood Indian Guides" also had a video). This was ultimately averted when these all appeared on the compilation A Decade of Laughs in 2004.
- Large Ham: Started out as a Motor Mouth and slowly morphed into this.
- Mister Seahorse: On the title track of Now That's Awesome, he delivers several examples of what would truly fit the meaning of the word "awesome" in the literal sense of leaving someone in awe and wonder. One example he gives is if women were to wake up and find that scientists have discovered a way for men to experience childbirth. The back cover of the album even has a picture of a pregnant Engvall.
- Mushroom Samba: Becoming a staple of his shows.
- After he was having trouble sleeping, Bill's doctor prescribed him marijuana to help him sleep. Bill ended up getting pot brownies and eating an entire brownie, not knowing he was only supposed to eat only part of it. At one point, Bill was so high that thought he was just a head without a body.
- Earlier, "Here's Your Sign" chronicled his adventures after having taken half a Vicodin and drinking a Bahama Mama while on a tropical vacation. The combination led to him becoming literally high as a kite after he decided going parasailing was a good idea, despite being afraid of heights.
- Naked in Mink: When he was discussing the proper meaning of "awesome", he brought up what would truly be awesome to him.And I started thinking about what would be awesome for Bill Engvall? What would leave me in awe and wonder? And it would have to be if I left this stage tonight and went back to my hotel room. And Shania Twain met me at my door, wearing nothing but a fur coat, holding a note from my wife that said "have a good time." That would be awesome!
It ain't gonna happen; but that would be awesome.
- Naked People Are Funny: He once decided to spice up his and his wife's sex life by greeting her at the door wearing nothing but a bowtie. Then he hears her talking to some friends. Cue trying to quickly find a hiding place till they leave. Then there was the time he walked in on his son Travis in the bathroom:And I went upstairs and I walked in his room, and I heard this "boom, boom, boom." And I looked around the corner of the bathroom, he is standing butt naked in front of the mirror going "shake your boom boom, shake your boom boom." And I let it go for about ten seconds, then went "SHAKE IT, BOY!" We don't nekkid dance anymore.
- Negated Moment of Awesome: After flying with the Air Force Thunderbirds and pulling nine G's (essentially, being subjected to nine times Earth's normal gravity), Bill got out of a fighter jet that had his name printed on it with his wife running to him and the Thunderbirds cheering for him. Bill said he "heard Kenny Loggins music" and finally felt cool for the first time in his life. Then, he took two steps towards his wife and threw up.
- No Indoor Voice: In the aforementioned skit about feminine hygiene products, his son demonstrates this, screaming "HERE'S THE LITTLE GIRL NARROW PADS, DADDY!" in the middle of the pharmacy. Bill then responds, "I appreciate that, son. Listen, I don't believe they heard you in SCOTLAND!"
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: The discovery when helping his wife fold laundry:
- Bill: (pulls out sexy panties) Heeeey, how come you never wear these for me?Gail: They're your daughter's.Bill: OOOOOOHH!! No No NO!
- Noodle Incident: The time he rode an electric floor buffer. Apparently, tequila was involved.
- One-Hit Wonder: "Here's Your Sign (Get the Picture)" sampled several of his "here's your sign" routines and added a chorus sung by Travis Tritt. The single went to #29 on Hot Country Songs and #43 on the Hot 100, accounting for Engvall's only major appearance there to date (although "Here's Your Sign Christmas", which took Christmas-themed "here's your sign" jokes and a chorus sung by studio vocalists to the tune of "Jingle Bells", got some seasonal airplay).
- Once an Episode: His "Here's your sign" jokes appear on every album.
- Overprotective Dad / Twerp Sweating: "Boy, look at me. You see that little girl right there? She's my only little girl, man. She's my life. So if you have any thoughts about hugging, or kissing, you remember these words: I got no problem goin' back to prison." Cue creepy smile.
- Parental Hypocrisy: He notes that, as a parent, he tries his best not to screw up, but knows he'll eventually do something stupid that his kids are never going to let him forget. Bill even adds that such a thing is porbably universal with parents. Bill specifically mentions a time he saw his son Travis hitting his friend, so Bill smacked Travis to make him stop. Travis pointed out the hypocrisy quickly.
- Refuge in Audacity: After failing his motorcycle test on his scooter, Bill decides he's not gonna retake the test. He's banking on the idea that no cop is gonna stop some guy on a scooter and ask him if he has his license. He may be right depending on the size of the motor and/or which city he's in. 49 cc engines are street-legal without license or registration, and at least the Durham, North Carolina police department doesn't bother pulling over scooters (not for registration checks, anyway).
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Several instances, most notably when he's para-sailing in the Bahamas while on Vicodin and when he's invited on as a passenger in an F16.And then he flips it over upside-down, we're flying upside-down! And you can hear me, a forty-nine-year-old man, on the cockpit tape going "MAMA! MAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"
- Seashell Bra: In one skit, he recalls seeing a woman with a coconut bra on the beach. His wife asks, "I wonder if those are real." His answer? "The way they're jiggling, yeah." "The coconuts, Bill." "...Welp, here's my sign."
- Self-Deprecation: A staple of Engvall's routines, frequently calling himself a "dork" or an "idiot." He best described himself as "that guy who's always fifteen degrees off cool." Some of his "here's your sign" routines end with him being the recipient of the sign, too.
- Serial Escalation: "I got off cigarettes by using the patches. I got off the patches by smoking cigars. Got off the patches by doing crack."
- Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: He talks about what a great day it was when you discovered you could burn ants with a magnifying glass as a kid ("You got to be God!"). Then he goes on to talk about when he was doing this and saw an ant on his arm...Let me tell you something: you burn your arm with a magnifying glass, you're on your own. You can't even tell your mom, because she gives that face like, "Oh...he is that stupid."
- Something Completely Different: Much like he had done with Jeff Foxworthy, Record Producer Scott Rouse remixed several of Engvall's routines to music, usually with a sung chorus by a country artist or a session musician:
- The first was a standalone single titled "Here's Your Sign (Get the Picture)", featuring the first batch of "here's your sign" routines from his debut album and a chorus sung by Travis Tritt. After it came "Warning Signs" (featuring John Michael Montgomery, and material from the same standup segment), and then "It's Hard to Be a Parent" (various bits on parenting from throughout the Here's Your Sign album) and "Hollywood Indian Guides" (from a routine on Dorkfish about a Native American culture class he took with his son) which both opted for uncredited session vocalists instead. These latter three were only sent to radio, and were never given a commercial release until 2004.
- Dorkfish itself featured "I'm a Cowboy" (based off a routine about bronco busting from earlier in the album) and "Here's Your Sign Christmas" (original, Christmas-themed "here's your sign" jokes), both also featuring session vocalists.
- The entire Here's Your Christmas Album is even more of an example. Some tracks feature comedy bits with choruses; some are entire songs sung by session vocalists which do not feature Engvall in any other capacity than co-writer; and "The Bike" features Engvall narrating.
- "Now That's Awesome" has the title track (based on a routine earlier in the album where he decries the misuse of the word "awesome") with T. Graham Brown, Tracy Byrd, and Neal McCoy, and "Shoulda Shut Up" (original standup bits with a chorus by an uncredited Julie Reeves).
- Cheap Drunk: An Autobiography got more adventrous by letting Bill talk-sing his way through "Rich, Fat, and Ugly" and "I'm a Cheap Drunk".
- He reverted to guest vocalists for the musical tracks on Here's Your Sign Reloaded (his last album to have musical tracks): "Here's Your Sign (Don't Mess with Us)" featured Neal McCoy, "Married for Twenty Years" featured Lisa Cochran, and "Here's Your Sign (Wear It All the Time)" featured Butch Baker.
- Tampon Run: He had to go on one for his young daughter once, and bring his eight-year-old son with him. After a particularly brutal public humiliation, Bill ensures he never had to do it again by buying a cartload of them.
- Teeny Weenie: In a segment about surfing, the instructor, a typical Surfer Dude, tells him "We'll have you hanging ten in no time." "Not without elective surgery. Because the word 'hung' has never been associated with Engvall men." Later on, he says that when he puts on the wet suit, it looks like he's trying to smuggle a Slim Jim and two cherries.
- Threatening Shark: Used in at least two jokes. Once when going para-sailing while drunk, aka Vicodenland, the rope jerks enough to snap him out of his drunken stupor and realize the cute little fishies in the lagoon below him are the sharks...and he is not going to land on the platform but in the water with them. The second time his wife drags him along on a trip to Costa Rica and arranges for them to go on a shark feeding frenzy. Bill is less than pleased.
- Through His Stomach: Not quite. Bill believes it's "a little further south."
- Vocal Evolution: He was a Motor Mouth on the first two albums, but markedly slowed down his delivery and became a lot more of a Large Ham over time.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Literally, as Bill is terrified of snakes. "They move, but they don't have legs. That ain't natural. That's the Devil."
If I found a six-inch worm in my toilet... I don't need a toilet anymore. I need a new set of underwear... 'cause I just hit a deer.
- In one skit, he recalls a camping trip right after reading a story about a man who was attacked by a snake in his toilet. Bill recalls sitting down on a toilet that had a small crack in the seat that managed to Groin Attack him and make him freak out about a snake in the toilet.
- In another one he tells a story about an Australian women finding a six-foot snake in her toilet.
- He also talks about almost sleeping with a woman before he was married until she brought out a snake, at which point he immediately nixed the idea.
- His other major fear is heights, as was demonstrated in both the Vicodinland skit and his skit where he helped fly a plane. The former is not helped by the fear of sharks he also has.
- Would Hit a Girl: Bill recalls taking his wife deer hunting, and she kept complaining and generally annoying Bill. And when they finally did see a deer, she started gushing over how cute it was and how it reminded her of Bambi's dad, prompting Bill to furiously tell her to be quiet. Then she asked if he was really going to shoot it. "What do you think I brought this gun for?! Protection?! Like that deer might run up this tree and rob us?!" His wife freaked out and screamed at the deer to run.That... is the only time I've ever pushed a woman out of a tree.
- You Keep Using That Word: The premise of a skit on Now That's Awesome! is about the proper use of the word "awesome" under its original meaning of "leaving someone in awe and wonder".And I started thinking: What would be awesome for Bill Engvall? If I left this stage tonight...and I went back to my hotel room and Shania Twain met me at my door...wearing nothing but a fur coat...holding a note from my wife that said "Have a good time"...that would be awesome! It ain't gonna happen, but that would be awesome.