"I started stand-up in 1987," says Billy Gardell.
The transplanted Floridian got his start onstage during the height of the '80s stand-up boom and achieved some success on the road before heading out to Hollywood in 1997 to try and make it in the movies. After years of bit parts and recurring roles on shows such as The King of Queens, Yes, Dear, and My Name Is Earl, in 2010, he landed every comedian's dream job: a leading role on a primetime comedy called Mike and Molly. "It was 25 years to an overnight success," he says.
Co-starring with another rising comedy star, Melissa McCarthy, for six seasons on CBS made Gardell famous. When the show's finale aired last month, Gardell was already hard at work on another role that was very different from the Midwestern everyman familiar to his fans. The comedian has spent the last few months in Memphis playing Elvis' infamous manager Col. Tom Parker for the CMT series Million Dollar Quartet. "It's been wonderful," he says. "The city's been incredibly welcoming. Being able to film in the authentic places where some of those things happened really lends to the performance. ... It's a wonderful cast. I think we're going to do something special for the city of Memphis."[iamge-1]
Gardell has also returned to his first love: stand-up comedy. "My stand-up show is about real life. It's about being crazy when you're younger, and then trying to step into being a father and a husband without being a hypocrite. I think that's pretty relatable. It's very working-class humor."
For the show, the comedian takes inspiration from his life as a father to his son, William. "I've got a 13-year-old who just went into teenage mode. He sleeps until 1 every day, and all I get is one-word answers. He'll get through it, though. He's a good boy."
Gardell will bring his comedy stylings to Minglewood Hall on Saturday, July 2nd. "I'm really looking forward to the show," he says. "It's gonna be nice. Most of our cast and crew are going to come, so it will be a big night."