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.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2016 Homes of the Year

2016 Homes of the Year

Our independent panel of judges recognizes three local, unique residences as our Homes of the Year in the categories of New Build, Renovation and Green.
Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Comeback Kid - Jung Ho Kang Returns to the Practice Field

Comeback Kid - Jung Ho Kang Returns to the Practice Field

Kang shared a video of his rehab work since suffering the knee injury that ended his season 16 games shy of the playoffs last year.
Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Back From the Dead? Parkway Center Focus of New Development Talk

Aside from a Giant Eagle, the mall has been empty for the past three years.
Great Catch: Easiest Way to Tasty Lenten Fish Frys

Great Catch: Easiest Way to Tasty Lenten Fish Frys

Looking for a delicious battered fish sandwich or golden-brown pierogies on Friday? Here’s a handy guide plus a few fun facts about our fascination with fish.
Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

Sweetheart Ideas: How to Make the Most out of Valentine's Day

From a hotel “Love Lockdown,” to a museum breakfast in bed, to a rooftop singles event - there's plenty to eat, drink at do in Pittsburgh on this weekend for love.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2016 Homes of the Year

2016 Homes of the Year

Our independent panel of judges recognizes three local, unique residences as our Homes of the Year in the categories of New Build, Renovation and Green.
Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

In Lawrenceville, a love for letterpress leads to a business whose greeting cards reach audiences across the country.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Comeback Kid - Jung Ho Kang Returns to the Practice Field

Comeback Kid - Jung Ho Kang Returns to the Practice Field

Kang shared a video of his rehab work since suffering the knee injury that ended his season 16 games shy of the playoffs last year.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

City leaders considered many options for Pittsburgh's confluence including something that looked like it was designed by the Jetsons, or an absolutely bonkers, batpoop insane idea by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Chef Move: Lily Tran New Executive Chef of Soba

Pittsburgh Chef Move: Lily Tran New Executive Chef of Soba

Tran takes over big Burrito's Ellsworth Ave. restaurant from Dustin Gardner, who moves back to Casbah on Highland Ave.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


End Your Work Day at Muddy Waters' Oyster Happy Hour

End Your Work Day at Muddy Waters' Oyster Happy Hour

Some of the best oysters available in Pittsburgh can be yours for a steal at the new East Liberty spot.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Super Bowl Predictions: Can I Have That One Back?

Denver's upset win over Carolina -- predicted by hardly anyone (including yours truly) -- should be interpreted as good news for Steelers' fans.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Shirts We Love For Valentine’s Day

Let your heart do the talking with these fun sweaters from Rosewood Boutique.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Leave Your Kids at Home and See 'Deadpool'

Leave Your Kids at Home and See 'Deadpool'

The R-rated superhero flick is foul-mouthed fun. Plus reviews of "How to Be Single," "Where to Invade Next" and more.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Going the Distance: International Introductions

Going the Distance: International Introductions

On Day Three of our Week of Wedded Bliss, we tracked down three of our Real Pittsburgh Weddings couples who went the distance and found one another abroad.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Say Hello (and Goodbye) to These Home & Lifestyle Shops

Say Hello (and Goodbye) to These Home & Lifestyle Shops

Divertido and Jack + Jules close in Lawrenceville, while the neighborhood welcomes Brambler Boutique. Plus, Splurge expands to a new location in Fox Chapel.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

The event is for high school students who are interested in criminal justice, law enforcement and forensic science.

Comments