Stating his motto, "Getting Old Sucks," comic Bill Engvall had a sold-out house at the Reg Lenna Civic Center rocking with laughter, Saturday evening, from start until finish of his two-hour performance.
Well-known for his television and films, and from his performing with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Engvall's performance was the headline act of this year's Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.
Subjects ranging from being told by an attractive waitress that her father was a big fan of his, to the dubious pleasures of undergoing a colonoscopy poured out from the comedian, while audience members shouted with laughter.
The large audience began by walking through a concert by the Honeymooners Band, on East Third Street, to reach the theater. Lucy-Desi Museum Director Journey Gunderson welcomed the audience and introduced Engvall's partner from his "Off the Cuff Radio Show," Gary Brightwell, who was the show's opening act.
Brightwell discussed how much more enjoyable it would be to wake up if instead of ringing an alarm, the alarm clock produced the smell of bacon frying. "If you hit the snooze button, though, in nine minutes, it smells like burning bacon, and that will wake you up," he said.
The difficulties of flying in small commuter aircraft into small, rural airports and the dangers of allowing his girlfriend to buy the baseball tickets and ending up needing a Sherpa guide to find the seats occupied much of his performance.
Casually dressed in blue jeans and an untucked shirt, Engvall strode out to greet the enthusiastic cheers of his audience. He began reeling off the stories of the challenges of passing the age of 50. His 56th birthday was exactly one week before his performance. As he often does on his television appearances, he often laughed himself, claiming, "I've heard the jokes before, but sometimes I see them hit someone in the audience and it just cracks me up."
He told the audience that in addition to the problems of growing old, he would tell us quite a bit about his wife Gail, "Because she's not here," he said with a smile.
He described how his grandparents lived to an advanced old age, and near the end, they relied on Meals on Wheels to enable them to continue living independently. "One day, the meal was a bit late, so my grandmother called 911," he said. "Now I'm a comedian, and I make use of my family. I called my dad up and told him I was with the police department, and said there was a fine for calling 911 when it wasn't an emergency." He went on to relate the twists he put his father through before he admitted it was him and not an officer. "I sure hope my son doesn't do anything like that to me," he admitted.
Other subjects on his list of complaints included going to the pet store and investing a lot of money to feed the skink - a kind of lizard - which his son adopted as a pet. Also watching his wife buy homemade jam from two hippie women who shaved their heads but not their armpits, his single experience with medical marijuana, and the dreaded colonoscopy in which he found himself lying naked on a gurney, except for a paper hospital gown and having the nurse recognize him from his television shows.
The audience laughed so hard, sometimes it was difficult to hear what he was saying next.
The show ended with a standing ovation and the crowd poured out to the street, where the Honeymooners Band was once again playing and it was announced that the Desilu Playhouse Museum was open for viewing without charge.