Comedy, Interviews, Local

Interview: Actor/Comedian Billy Gardell to perform at Helium Comedy Club this weekend

Posted: June 11, 2024 at 2:59 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

If you’re feeling down or having a rough day, just listen to a recent interview with Billy Gardell, and it will help you perk up, that’s for sure.

The first thing I noticed about Gardell during our conversation on Monday is that he always seems to be upbeat and in a great mood. I asked him how he stays in such a positive mood.

“I try to look at what I have instead of what I don’t have,” Gardell said. “I try to find at least five things I’m grateful for when I start my morning and that way my compass is right.”

The 54-year-old actor/comedian has a lot to be happy about these days. The star of the CBS hit television show, Mike & Molly, which aired from 2010-2016 and is now in syndication, just wrapped his second hit television show on CBS, titled Bob Hearts Abishola (2019-2024). Both shows were created by the award-winning writer and executive producer, Chuck Lorre.

While most actors would be satisfied with one hit show, Gardell has put together a pair of hits for CBS. He admits that he is still blown away with having two shows that viewers loved to watch.

“I have such an enormous amount of gratitude for what has happened to me,” Gardell said. “I try to never take that for granted because I know it’s a one in a million shot. That fact that I got two is just baffling to me.”

 If a pair of CBS-hit shows wasn’t enough to keep the Pittsburgh native happy, Gardell is enjoying a new lifestyle change, as the stand-up comedian has lost 170 pounds. The actor and I spoke about our weight loss journeys and how he has been an inspiration to so many, including myself.

“Food can be an addiction like anything else,” Gardell said. “If you don’t suffer from it, then you really don’t understand what it takes to change it.”

Gardell and I agreed that in order to achieve your weight loss goals, you have to have the right mentality.

“I think that with anything that you want to change in your life it is mental,” he said. “It’s all about what’s between your ears and then it’s about consistency.”

Having a consistent routine is something that Gardell practices on a daily basis.

“I find a routine is really important and I check in with my nutritionist every Friday to talk about what I’m doing right,” he said. “I’m just really honest about all of that with her and we work on little things. I build habits to go against comforting myself with food. That helps a lot.”

In 2022, the actor opted for weight loss surgery after admitting that due to his weight he was in too much pain to exercise.

“I had been out of the game for a while because it took a lot of time to get healthy and it changed my life,” he said. “But, that’s provided some fun things to talk about on stage.”

So now, after 3 years away from the stage, Gardell is heading back out on the road to get back to telling jokes, something that he was known for before a pair of hit television shows. The lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan will be at Helium Comedy Club this weekend for a 7 p.m. show on Friday and a 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. show on Saturday.

Gardell admitted that while he feels at home on the stage, it took him a couple weeks to get comfortable after the time away.

“There were some ghosts and boogeymen before I could get back up on stage,” the comedian admitted. “But now, I’m about four weeks into it and I got my feet back under me and it’s just brought me so much joy.”

When talking about Mike & Molly and Bob Hearts Abishola, I asked Gardell what he thought it was that drew people to both shows.

“The beauty of both of those shows is they are about love,” he said. “I mean, it’s about love conquers all and that’s the beauty of it. That’s the secret sauce of both of those shows.”

The actor was also blessed with fantastic co-stars in each show, with Melissa McCarthy in M&M and Folake Olowofoyeku in Bob Hearts Abishola. The actor admitted that trust is the key to having such believable relationships in a television show.

“I think you have to start by letting someone know that you’re going to work with that you can trust them and they have to let you know that they can trust you,” Gardell said. “Once you build that trust, I believe that comes through on the screen. If you believe each other, then the audience is going to believe that.”

Along with the successful shows, Gardell has appeared in some films alongside some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters such as Sylvester Stallone, in Avenging Angelo, and Billy Bob Thornton, in Bad Santa. 

In Bad Santa, Gardell said his small part with Thornton was mostly on the fly.

“He (Thornton) was encouraging,” he said. “It was because he had faith in me to do that and my experience with him was just great.”

Along with acting alongside Thornton and Stallone, Gardell also had the opportunity to play a small role in Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys film. 

The actor described Eastwood as very calm.

“I would describe him as stoic,” Gardell said. “He’s very, very warm and he works in a very efficient way. That allows for a lot of creativity.”

Being a Pittsburgh native, Gardell is a huge fan of the Steelers, so I had to chat with him a bit about his team’s quarterback dilemma for the upcoming season. The Steelers have both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields on the roster. I asked him who he would like to see take the reins under center this upcoming season.

“I’d like to eventually see Fields step into that position,” he said. “I’m hoping maybe Wilson can give him some maturing lessons. I think we’ll probably start with Wilson, but I really like the kid Fields. I think Pittsburgh is going to give him a lot of weapons, so I’m really excited for this season.”

Gardell admitted that he had not been in St. Louis for about 10 years, but already has plans for his time here, including getting to a Cardinals game.

“My Bucco’s play on Saturday, so I will see if I can bring them some luck because St. Louis has such a great ballpark and it’s a great baseball town,” he said. “I got to get myself to The Hill and I’m going to get some toasted ravioli…just not as many as I used to.”

While he ended our conversation with these kind words, I’d like to also say  thanks for that chat Billy, it was a much-needed shot in the arm!

Tickets for Gardell’s Friday and Saturday shows at Helium are available at