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Published: Thursday, 8/4/2005

Laughter goes south in Toledo

Bill Engvall Bill Engvall

Comedian Bill Engvall, a member of TV's Blue Collar TV, is scheduled to appear tonight at the Stranahan Theater.

Engvall, who started as a DJ in Dallas, is best known for teaming up in 2000 with comics Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy (Dan Whitney) in a traveling show called the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour."

The tour's success led to a concert film, Blue Collar Comedy Tour, The Movie, which premiered on Comedy Central and was the most-watched movie in the channel's history. The film led to a sequel, Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again.

It also spawned a sketch comedy TV show on the WB network called Blue Collar TV, with Foxworthy, Engvall, and Larry the Cable Guy.

Engvall was born in Galveston, Texas, and planned to become a teacher, but while in a club with friends for an open-mike night, he got up on stage and told a few jokes. He did well enough that he began making appearances at other local clubs, fashioning himself as a Southern comedian along the lines of Foxworthy.

After a stint in St. Louis, he moved to Los Angeles and broke into television, hosting a Showtime comedy special with Rosie O'Donnell and appearing on several other TV shows, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman.

Despite his success on television, the 48-year-old Engvall says he still enjoys performing live. "When you're doing stand-up, you achieve an intimacy with the audience you can't get on TV," he says. "There's not a better feeling in the entire world than when you look out and see the audience is identifying with you."

Bill Engvall will appear at 7:30 tonight at the Stranahan Theater. Tickets are $28.75 from the box office, 419-381-8851, and all Ticketmaster outlets.

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