From Billy to 'Mike & Molly'

Swissvale-born Billy Gardell plays a titular role in "Mike & Molly," which debuts on CBS this fall and is likely to be one of this fall’s breakout hits.



Billy Gardell stars as Officer Mike Biggs in CBS' "Mike & Molly," which debuts tonight.

Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS

(page 1 of 2)

On the night of Thursday, July 22, I was fortunate enough to be in the back room of the Corner Cafe. That establishment—a small, unassuming neighborhood joint well into the South Side Slopes—has a well-kept secret in that back room. Hidden through a doorway next to the pool tables, you can find the most perfect comedy venue in Pittsburgh. A small, dimly lit room with only enough room to fit about 60 people comfortably, it’s an intimate, custom-made labor of love, perfect for local comics.

And there was plenty of Pittsburgh talent present on the night of July 22. I was fortunate enough to perform that evening, alongside a who’s who of the Burgh’s best funny people. And the audience was ravenous—supportive and entertained by every comic that appeared, even as the show stretched into a second and third hour of stand-up.

They laughed, loudly, at every joke. They roared with applause at every introduction. On the way out, they thanked us honestly for being there, and we did the same.

The perfect crowd in the perfect venue, on a random Thursday night in the South Side Slopes. Perhaps the best show I’ve ever been a part of. All because of the headliner—a local guy named Billy Gardell.

billy gardell in mike and molly

Billy Gardell as Officer Mike Biggs and Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn share a scene from the
new CBS comedy Mike & Molly.

Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS    

The following night, Billy would film two shows at a sold-out Byham Theater, taped for an hour-long Comedy Central special. Thousands would fill the historic venue to be a part of the most energized and supportive crowd Comedy Central would ever film.

But, like all dedicated performers, Billy had to practice. So at a tiny bar in the South Side Slopes, one of the best comics in America was holding court. I stood in the back of the room with the other comics, feeling the satisfied buzz of a good show for a great crowd, and it hit me: Is this the last time that Billy Gardell will perform in a bar?

His ascension from road warrior to household name is just about complete, after all. The Comedy Central special was his second, the first having debuted after a string of movie roles (Avenging Angelo, Bad Santa and You Me, and Dupree) and TV spots (Yes, Dear, The King of Queens, My Name is Earl and Desperate Housewives) had helped him move into the upper echelon of touring comics.

Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.

The 412

5 Pittsburgh Bands You Need to Know

5 Pittsburgh Bands You Need to Know

Fancy yourself a music snob? Brush up with our list of local musicians who might be flying under the radar.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pittsburgh's Polo Scene

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pittsburgh's Polo Scene

(Yes, there's a polo scene.)
A Pitt Computer Team Just Proved a 400-Year-Old Theory

A Pitt Computer Team Just Proved a 400-Year-Old Theory

Hundreds of years after Johannes Kepler presented a theory on how to best stack spherical objects, Pitt reps confirm that the German mathematician was correct.
Next Month, the City of Pittsburgh Will Turn Into the Best Gym Class Ever

Next Month, the City of Pittsburgh Will Turn Into the Best Gym Class Ever

Act like a kid again at the City of Play Best Games Fest.

Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.
6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

PittGirl's at it again — this time with a list of a half-dozen fun facts you'll want to mention at your next cocktail party.
'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

We pick the perfect neighborhood for six breeds of ’Burgher.