Bill Engvall: The man who ‘cured cancer’ (with comedy)

Bill Engvall was a finalist in season 17 of Dancing with the Stars. (Photo courtesy of ABC/Ida Mae Astute)

Bill Engvall was a finalist in season 17 of Dancing with the Stars. (Photo courtesy of ABC/Ida Mae Astute)

In a Detroit comedy club, a woman who had been diagnosed that day with terminal cancer sat and watched a man with a goatee.

She didn’t know who he was, but she laughed. Later, she asked the club owner to tell that comedian, “He cures cancer.”

That comedian was Bill Engvall.

“She came to the show, laughed for an hour and a half, and forgot the worst news you could get,” Bill explained to LSY! reporter Gabi Hartman in a recent interview before a show at the Lucy Fest in Jamestown, New York. Then, he added, the woman went to the doctor the next day and found out she was misdiagnosed.

Bill knew after this that he had a special gift.

“I didn’t cure her cancer, but I made her laugh and forget about it,” he said. “That’s when I knew I had something I wanted to give to other people, and that’s the gift of laughter.”

In order for Bill to get to where he is today, he had to sacrifice and miss out on so many important things in his life. He told LSY! he “missed his kids walking and talking for the first time” and he “was probably gone more than he was home.” All of this sacrifice has really paid off for him: Today, Bill is one of the most successful comedians in the industry. He started the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy, had his own television show and several Comedy Central specials, hosted a game show and regularly performs at theaters around the country.

“To do a show and for people to walk out with a smile on their faces is probably the biggest reward,” he said.

Bill Engvall's professional dance partner on Dancing with the Stars was Emma Slater. (Photo courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor)

Bill Engvall’s professional dance partner on Dancing with the Stars was Emma Slater. (Photo courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor)

You might be wondering, “Where does Bill come up with all of these funny jokes?”

“I have a secret store,” he joked, then turned slightly more serious.

“You just keep your eyes open,” he said, admitting that he’s “not disciplined enough” to write down every idea as it strikes him. “I’ve probably lost a couple of album’s worth of material.”

Bill’s advice for others who aspire to be in the entertainment business is simple: “Just don’t give up.” Early on, when comedy club owners told him, “You can’t perform here,” he just went another club down the street.

“Just really persevere,” he said.

Recently, Bill took his own advice on ABC’s hit show Dancing with the Stars. He surprised everyone by making it to the final four in season 17 of the show. In the late November finals, he was eliminated. Though he wasn’t a natural dancer and didn’t win, Bill worked hard and pushed himself to a point that he probably never thought was possible. Which is what he wants you to do, too: Persevere, shoot big, and reach for your dreams.

Olivia Harvey, LSY! teen reporter, Mount St. Mary Academy

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