Billy Gardell is a co-star of one of the few broadcast hits of this past season, CBS’s “Mike & Molly.” placed in the coveted slot after “Two and a Half Men.” But then he watched that show implode earlier this year courtesy of Charlie Sheen.
Was Gardell upset about it? In an interview to promote his Punchline stand-up comedy shows this weekend, he wouldn’t say: “I keep to my side of the street. I can’t control what anybody else has done. I’m 40. I know to mind my own business!” (His boss Chuck Lorre also happens to be the creator of “Two and a Half Men.”
Gardell is excited by Sheen’s replacement Ashton Kutcher. “It’s brilliant,” he said. “He’s super talented and he brings in a younger demographic. I’m pretty sure the entire world will see the first few episodes, which only helps us.”
Another bit of good news for “Mike & Molly” is the fact his co-star Melissa McCarthy just had a break-out comedic role in the recent movie hit “Bridesmaids.”
“I am so proud of her,” Gardell said. “We all went as a cast to cheer her on at the premiere. She’s fearless in her comedy. It was an impressive turn.”
And as a long-time stand-up comic, Gardell is already seeing larger audiences thanks to his TV exposure. (He was recently rewarded a Comedy Central special, too)
“It’s literally a dream come true,” Gardell said. “This has really lifted my stand-up to a new level.”
And though he is now capable of filling much larger venues, he chose to perform at the Punchline, which fits maybe 250 people a show. Sure, he’s been headlining there for years, even before “Mike and Molly.” But it helps that his agent for the past 19 years Chris DiPetta, happens to run the Punchline, too.
“The Punchline is special to me,” Gardell said. “It’s a club with a tremendous amount of tradition. When I was a young man coming up the comedy circuit, if you could put the Punchline on your resume, you could get other gigs.” Plus, he met his wife Patty there, too.
The only concession: he doesn’t have to do three shows on Saturday, which is standard fare for many headliners. “By the third show, I often don’t remember which jokes I just told!” he said.
DiPetta, he said, “literally saw some raw talent in me and helped shape my life. It goes deeper between him and me than just a manager. He’s like a dad to me, a real guiding influence. He’s the godfather to my child. He co-signed my first apartment,” when he lived briefly in Marietta in the mid-1990s.
“He would joke that after he made his first million, I’d be gone,” said DiPetta, who represented Steve Harvey and Jeff Foxworthy in their earlier years. “But I think we’re okay. I don’t think we have to worry about that.”
DiPetta said Gardell will do some theaters this summer which fit 1,000 to 1,500 fans. Recently, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre (capacity:2,750) asked for Gardell but DiPetta wanted to wait. “Tim Allen and Jerry Seinfeld did well after the first season of their shows, but their stand-up numbers went through the roof after the second season,” he noted. “We want to make sure we have sold-out shows.”
Punchline Comedy Club
280 Hilderbrand Drive
Friday, 8 p.m., 10 p.m. June 10
Saturday, 8 p.m., 10 p.m. June 11
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog