After spending the last twenty-three years doing stand-up, Billy Gardell still considers himself an overnight success by landing the role of a lifetime playing a cop named Mike Biggs on the CBS hit show "Mike & Molly." We of course know better. Sure, the show has been nominated for various awards and has even won an Emmy. But there is no discrediting the work that Gardell has done over the years and that makes him way more than an "overnight success."
His first comedy album, 2006's Throwback ,was followed up by his sophomore effort Halftime. He's also appeared in films like Bad Santa, You, Me, and Dupree, and in TV shows like "Heist," "My Name is Earl," "Yes Dear," and "The Practice." With a one night trip to the Brea Improv on May 4th to show us all why he's so much more than a "cop" on a smash sitcom, we did some interrogating of our own when it comes to where he's been and where he'll be going next.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Congrats on Mike & Molly getting picked up for its fourth season!
Billy Gardell: Yes! We are on to season number four in August and we are very excited about that. I'm just so thankful that all of the Mike and Molly fans stuck with us. It's a really great thing. We have a lot of fun doing the show.
I saw that you guys just celebrated your 70th episode and had a big party for it as well. Give us the dirt, did anyone get sloppy drunk?
We did! We just wrapped number seventy and it's just an amazing thing. No one got drunk though. [Laughs.] We have a lot of forty-year-olds and older on our show so everyone knows how to behave. We're too old to have dirt.
How hard is it memorizing your lines when you have a TV show and a stand-up set?
I mean, you forget lines all of the time! When you have to memorize forty pages a week for TV, you're going to have some blank spots. During a taping if you mess up, you have to redo the scene because all of the words rely on other peoples words, so it's not just you. But stand-up is more of a free form thing. You can kind of go wherever you want when you are on stage doing stand-up. You can cover up things easier if you mess up on stage.
How long were you doing stand-up when you finally realized, I could totally make a living doing this?
After the first time I could pay my rent I was like, OK, there might be a chance that I could do this for a living. And that was probably about the fourth year into it that I was able to do that. Twenty-three years to an overnight success! [Laughs.] No really, I've had a blessed career. I've always been able to make the bills and that was all I ever started out to do. To be honest with you, this is more than I ever thought was going to ever happen.
Well I noticed that your last comedy special was in 2011 so I was thinking, aren't you about due for another?
I'm working on a new forty-five minutes right now matter of fact. I'll be doing about half of that in Brea. I'm going to be doing some stuff that I know works and then I'm going to be taking some chances on some new stuff, so it should be a fun time. It's a good workout room, I love Brea. It gives me a good temperature of normal people. It's kind of hard to do that in Hollywood because people don't really relate to what I'm saying because I'm not really hip. [Laughs.] That's goes back to being forty. You realize you don't want to be hip. You want to be comfortable.
Speaking of "being hip." What's up with you not having a Twitter?
No, I don't have a Twitter. I do have a website though but it's run by somebody else. I don't do any of that stuff. I like to take technology as I do medicine. Only when I need it!
Billy Gardell performs at the Brea Improv, 120 South Brea Blvd. 92821, (714) 482-0700; www.Improv.com. May 4th. For more info, visit www.BillyGardell.com.