Gardell keeps ‘Burgh attitude
STEUBENVILLE – Comedian Billy Gardell took it in stride when he was told he couldn’t get his interview done 45 minutes early because the newspaper still had to be put to bed.
He called back 15 minutes later, right on cue.
“You gotta do your work,” he said. “Hey, that’s Pittsburgh, brother.”
Gardell is taking his stand-up to Mountaineer Casino, Race Track and Resort at Chester Saturday for an 8 p.m. show at The Harv.
“It’s always a fun room to play. Last last year it was really cool. It looked like a blue-collar Woodstock out there. It was really awesome,” Gardell said. “I always love to play the casinos. You can gamble and hang out and there’s fine dining and I always love that, plus it’s an easy trip down from Pittsburgh for folks to come to the casino.”
Gardell grew up in Pittsburgh and he keeps that genuine ‘Burgh attitude through and through. His show “Halftime,” available on Netflix and elsewhere, featured a set that resembled the neighborhood in Swissvale, where he lived. And he’s always got references in his show to an attitude that rings true in the area, about working hard and life.
But Gardell said there’s a bit more that he can do when he’s back in the area for a show.
“It’s like putting on a comfortable sweatshirt when I come home. There is some stuff that being from Pittsburgh only Pittsburgh people would understand. I can talk about ‘spickets’ and ‘gumbands’ and about the roads being ‘slippy,'” he said.
And he makes the rounds when he’s back in the area.
“I kind of roam around Pittsburgh, take the kid to Kennywood and stop in the old neighborhood in Swissvale,” he said. “I get some Veltre’s Pizza and some Rudy’s hoagies and a haircut at DiNardos. I just do what I did when I was a kid.”
Gardell stars in “Mike and Molly” on CBS with Melissa McCarthy. He said fans will be waiting until January for the show’s return with new episodes.
“They bought a couple of extra shows this year, but they felt our fans were so loyal that they would wait until January for us. The upside of that is there will be 22 episodes and no reruns,” he said. “They think we have a strong enough fan base, and that’s a real sign of respect, to gamble with the show like that. I think we will be OK. Our fans are loyal, but they also get a little bit impatient with the reruns.”
When told that he seems really grounded after starting in comedy 26 years ago and becoming popular in recent years, Gardell provided his level-headed perspective. He tells his son to stay in touch with what’s real.
“I just remind him – and when I do that, I hear it myself – that I have a really cool job, but that doesn’t make you special. It does not mean you have better status than anybody else. I just landed a good job. I keep it in that box,” he said.
“That’s all it is. It’s a great job. That’s all it is,” he said.
Gardell makes a weekly on-air appearance on the WDVE-FM Morning Show every Tuesday, and his love of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the center of conversation in the fall.
“I’m looking at 10-6, and that’s optimistic. But the schedule is not as tough as it was last year, and I think the receiver corps will be OK even with Mike Wallace’s departure,” he said. “I’d like to see that young running back they got (the Steelers drafted LeVeon Bell in the second round out of Michigan State) make an impact. That would be nice and he has the potential to do that.
“That gives Ben (Roethlisberger) a little less wear and tear. And, they addressed other issues on the other side of the ball,” he said.
He said having the TV show means a lot to him in providing for his family, that blue-collar Pittsburgh guy attitude shining right through.
“It’s nice to know you’re making some moves for your family’s financial future. That’s a big deal with me,” he said. “I am glad it happened with me when I was 40, otherwise I’d have bought a hot-air balloon and been broke. But the biggest thrill is that my kid will have opportunities later in his life, and me and my wife will be able to retire.
“That’s the American Dream, to own your own house and be able to retire comfortably. And that gets tougher every year,” he said.
Gardell hopes he can slow down his career when his son is a teenager. He’s 10 now.
“I think when he’s 16 or 17, I’d like to slow down enough to really pay attention to his life,” he said.