Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just a Guy – Bill Engvall with Alan Eisenstock

What?! You say. This guy is writing books now?! Yes. While it’s pretty safe to say the addition of the co-writer helped Bill to write something that was readable. Bill Engvall, that other guy on the Blue Collar Comedy tour, the “Heeeere’s your sign” guy has written a book. It’s a memoir, an autobiography, a journal after the fact. My wife and kids picked up a copy and gave it to me for Father’s Day and I finally got around to reading (and finishing) it.

Beginning with his birth, Engvall invites readers in to witness the development and shaping of what makes a Blue Collar comic. We ride with Bill on his bike through early years in Texas, formative years in Winslow, Arizona, and then later years in Dallas. He lifts the shades to let us peek in on the good times the bad times and the ugly—lots and lots of ugly.

The opening chapters of Just a Guy remind you of Engvall’s comedy. They are funny to the point of tears as he remembers and you remember because you are “just a guy” too. You hide with him as he waits to scare his sisters or other family members (almost giving Grandpa a heart attack). You can hear and smell the sounds and smells of the little league field, swinging right along with Bill to make not only one but two homeruns in an early career. As you read you can almost hear Bill leading into the next punch line. It’s a great romp.

About one-third of the way through the book you get hammered with his parents’ divorce and the book almost gets too personal. You want him to be funny, but the hurt that comes through doesn’t allow funny. He does regain some of the comic charm as he tells about his father’s remarriage, how Mary becomes “mom” and not just “step-mom”, the highs (literally) and lows of his misspent college days, his break into comedy accompanied by his romance and marriage to Gail.

He reaches all your emotional bones—funny, sad, and otherwise—with his readable prose. If you’re “just a guy” you’ll want to read this. If you’re really a “guy” you’ll wait for the movie—or at least wait for Bill to include it in his act. I’d recommend this book to some and not to others. Sorry Bill, the best I can do for you is 4 thumbs, but that’ll get you back home.

—Benjamin Potter, July 12, 2007

No comments:

Popular Posts