A belly full of laughs awaits area residents when blue collar comedian Bill Engvall comes to Jamestown.
As part of the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, Engvall will appear at the Reg Lenna Civic Center on Saturday, at 8 p.m.
According to Engvall, he's performed in Buffalo before, but he's never had the chance to make it down to Jamestown.
"I always look forward to a new venue, and a new area where I haven't been there live," said Engvall. "It's always a little more special, and people tend to have a great time. And, being a part of the festival is awesome - it's a great honor to be asked to do that. I think my show and the Lucille Ball Fest are going to be a perfect match."
During the festival performance, Engvall will feature material he describes as being similar to the type of comedy portrayed by famous television couples such as Lucy and Ricky from "I Love Lucy," or Laura and Rob from "The Dick Van Dyke Show," who viewers looked up to and thought, "Oh, that's what marriage is supposed to be like," he said.
"They didn't portray it as the perfect marriage, and I think that's why the people of Jamestown will enjoy my show because it's kind of along those same lines," said Engvall. "I don't try to reinvent the wheel - let's just talk about funny stuff. Stuff which people can relate to, whether it's my marriage, me getting older or whatever the subject is, and I think that's part of the success of a great comic and comedy show is the simpler and more relatable the better the audience loves it."
What Engvall hopes area residents take away from the experience of seeing his live show is that their lives are OK.
"I think we get inundated with so much bad stuff all day long," said Engvall. "I almost refuse to watch the news anymore because it's become so sensationalized that it's not even real news anymore. A classic example is the Asiana crash, really, you're going to tell me that those names got through eight different people and nobody went, 'Um, does somebody want to check these names?' The whole Asiana thing was kind of like the classic scene out of 'Anchorman' where he told San Diego to go **** itself. I don't even know what's real anymore, so I kind of just stopped watching it. What I try to do with my show is try to tell people that there's a lot of bad, weird stuff out there, but if you can laugh at yourself then you're going to be just fine."
Tickets to Engvall's Saturday, Aug. 3, performance start at $43.50, and are available by calling the Reg Lenna Civic Center box office at 484-7070 or by visiting reglenna.com. The Reg Lenna Civic Center is located at 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information call 484-0800, visit lucycomedyfest.com or www.billengvall.com.
ENGVALL ON LUCY
Engvall recalls growing up with Lucille Ball and "I Love Lucy," which is part of the reason it's such a great honor for him to be involved with the festival.
"I grew up watching Lucy, and felt as if she was my second mom - she was the great comedienne," said Engvall. "I was doing a show the other day, and I was doing some material about how I think we've gone too far. In fact, I said that I remember a day when we used to watch Ricky and Lucy, who slept in separate beds, and we were just fine with that. Now, it's basically that people have to have sex in bed before we get interested in it. I don't know when the pendulum swung past that point, but I just think that if you tried to sell a show like that to Hollywood now, televisioners would look at you like you were crazy.
"What made that show so great was that the storylines were just so simple," continued Engvall. "They weren't these complex, undulating stories, it was just here's the deal, Lucy wants to meet John Wayne. You could tell she was one of the greats because all the stars were on that show."
Engvall's favorite part of the "I Love Lucy" series was when Lucy and Ricky moved to the country, he said.
"I thought it opened up things more," said Engvall. "When they were going to buy the house, and she kept saying that she didn't want to move because she didn't want to leave Ethel, but she really did. Anybody that's been married has been through that. But, if I had to pick one episode, I think the one where she was trying to be a pitchwoman for Vitavitavegamin. The faces that she made, and yet still trying to keep a smile on her face cause she had to sell it, was probably my favorite."
LOVE AND LAUGHS
The Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy annually hosts a Festival of Comedy, which occurs Aug. 1-4, and in the past has hosted comedians such as Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres and Paula Poundstone. In addition to Engvall's Saturday, Aug. 3, performance, the festival will feature a number of other comedians, including: Pandora Comedy's "Comics To Watch" with Tammy Pescatelli, Keith Alberstadt, Joe Machi, Cy Amundson and Jackie Kashian, Thursday, Aug. 1; the GI's of Comedy, Friday, Aug. 2; Kathleen Madigan, Friday, Aug. 2; and "Comedy Late Night" with 16 new voices of comedy, which will serve as the recording platform for the festival's first live album, Aug. 1-3.
According to its website, The Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy is a nonprofit organization with the mission of preserving the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz by enriching the world through the healing powers of love and laughter and by developing the comedic arts.
During the festival, the Lucy Desi Museum, established in 1996, will also be available to the public. The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center and the Lucy Desi Museum are located at 2 W. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information visit lucy-desi.com.