Hosting an award show takes superhuman nerve, as funnyman Bill Engvall can attest. “You only have two or three minutes up front to try to get ’em,” observes Engvall, who serves as emcee for the second year in a row on tomorrow night’s, Feb. 21, 23rd Annual Movieguide Awards on Reelz.
Yes, in addition to the mighty grand finale of awards season coming up Sunday, Feb. 22 — The Oscars — the weekend brings us a favorite awards presentation among fans of family and faith-based fare. As host, Engvall must be funny while keeping things nice and clean. This is no problem for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and “Bill Engvall Show” veteran. Humor abounds in this realm, he says. In fact, you can find some of the funniest stuff that happens in church: “Obviously, God has a sense of humor. … Look around.”
Still, he admits he was a little tense about hosting the Movieguide Awards when the idea was presented to him initially. “The worst audience a comedian can have is industry people. It’s not like doing a concert. That said, comedians love the opportunity to do awards shows, so there’s a dichotomy.” The Oscar show is cracked up as toughest of all, yet “I’d love the opportunity to do the Oscar show,” Engvall confesses.
Engvall finds it encouraging that wholesome fare has found a hungry audience of late, as the burgeoning ratings of Hallmark Channel movies and other recent family-friendly television programming shows. In January, NBC made a deal with Dolly Parton involving a series of family-friendly made-for-TV movies. Could it be the start of a bandwagon effect?
“Man, I hope so,” says Engvall. “I’m not preaching here, but it’s unfair to drop something disgusting into a show that can be seen by kids — the kind of thing where you go, ‘OK, that’s just for shock value.’ You don’t have to show them actually slit the man’s throat. You don’t have to be that explicit.”
He adds, “I’m not a prude — I love a good dirty joke as much as anyone — but the language on TV nowadays, I’d have had soap in my mouth for using it.”
Engvall has the big screen “Catching Faith” movie in post-production and he’d love to do more family films. Meanwhile, he’s busy throughout the year doing his standup — and enjoying his own family, wife Gail and their young adult offspring, daughter Emily and son Travis.
The latter is soon to graduate from Northern Arizona University and the Engvalls will be out en force. Attending his son’s graduation necessitated Engvall withdrawing as host of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan, a move that generated a surprising amount of headlines.
“Some people were upset that I’m going to my son’s graduation,” he acknowledges. “It’s a huge moment in our lives. After all the investment of time and money, to see it come to fruition? Of course we’re going to be there to see him walk across the stage.”
He goes on, “Some of these celebrities don’t realize that one of these days, this will be gone. If your career ends tomorrow, what do you have? You have your family.”
That’s family-friendly indeed.