After performing at various comedy clubs around town, comedian Billy Gardell is moving up to the majors, headlining Mirage’s Aces of Comedy Series at the Terry Fator Theatre. Best known for his role on the sitcom Mike & Molly, Gardell spends his breaks from the show perfecting his stand up. A loyal sports fan, Gardell recently turned 40 and is reflecting on that with his new comedy special Halftime.
Having started in the comedy business so young, what do you think has changed the most over the course of your career?
I think there’s been a little too much hipster added to the mix. Comedians shouldn’t wear skinny pants or snow hats. Comedians should come out, especially in Vegas, in a jacket, make you laugh for an hour and then go home. Maybe lose a little money at the tables in the casino he or she’s been hired at.
- Billy Gardell
- July 9, $39.99 - $59.99
- Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage
Do you think this is because so many people are getting into the business at an earlier age via avenues like Last Comic Standing?
I think we’ve got too many things in which you can get success by winning a contest—Last Comic Standing, American Idol. I think the guys who you want to see who become great comics are time-tested over years out on the road. I think that’s where you really make your bones and learn how to really hone your craft. You shouldn’t be successful because you won a talent show. Spoken like a bitter 40-year-old.
Well, you did work your way up the ranks.
I did. I earned my stripes. I’m not bitter. I have nothing to be bitter about.
What can you tell me about your new stand-up special, Halftime?
The tour supports the special, and it’s about turning 40 and realizing you’re lucky to get about 80 years on the planet so 40 is halftime and that’s when you have to make the adjustments. You go from ‘Whoo hoo! Let me have another shot’ to ‘How much sodium is in that?’
Is it kind of a reflection of your career thus far as well?
Absolutely. I talk about being crazy when I was young and now I’m married with a son and I have to be the adult and it’s about that transition. At some point you have to make that turn otherwise you’re the 45-year-old loser at the bar with skater shorts on and a goatee.
Do you feel you’ve been typecast as the funny big guy? Are there any other genres you would like to explore?
God I hope so. It’s better to be typecast than not cast, right? I am very proud of the role I get to play. My heroes were Jackie Gleason, john Candy, George Carlin and Richard Pryor and I am literally getting to live out most of those dreams. Because of the success of Mike & Molly, I get to do stand up at an awesome level where there’s a thousand people a night as opposed to a year ago when there were 22 people yelling about the bar prices. At the same time, I get to run around like my idol Jackie Gleason and I get to be on a weekly television show that’s fantastic.
Are you getting more respect now that you have the show on your resume? I know you were popular on My Name is Earl before but this is reaching a larger audience.
Yeah, this is huge. It’s amazing. I’ve talked to a lot of veteran comics—the real deals like Jay Leno, Dennis Miller, Whoopi Goldberg and George Lopez—and they all did that time. When you work that hard for 20 years and when you finally find your audience and they come to see you, there’s a give and take that’s like no other. It’s like you’re bonded because they’ve known about you and then these new people are like ‘we finally found you’ and you’ve been doing it long enough that you don’t let them down. It’s a really nice give and take that goes on.
I know you’ve performed in Vegas before. Are there any places you’re looking forward to visiting when you’re here?
You know, I am a one-hotel guy. I used to perform at some of the casinos there at the smaller venues, and I’m not big on leaving the casino. I like to be in a hotel that has a big enough space to play in that you don’t have to leave. I don’t understand leaving the casino. That’s foreign to me. I will be at the Mirage this time. I’m bringing my wife and kid. We’re going be at the pool, at the buffet; we’re going to be appearing everywhere in the Mirage. I don’t need to leave. That’s for the rookies. Let the rookies run around town. Pick your casino and go with it.
What can fans at the Mirage expect from your Vegas stand-up show?
Well my stand-up show is from a working-class sensibility. Most of my humor comes from sarcasm and like I said, my youth and now adulthood and it links up very well with Mike & Molly. It’s the same sensibility. I am very blessed that I am on a show that lines up with the kind of humor that I do. Tim Allen, who was one of the best sitcom guys ever, his act was a little bluer and I remember hearing about a time about him where the younger audience would come see him thinking they’d see a version of his TV character on stage and he was a little darker and bluer than they expected and he had to adjust through that. I was very lucky that my show matched up with my stand up almost perfectly.