LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) — Billy Gardell is honest about giving credit where it’s due, at home and at work.
He describes his wife, Patty, as the “North Star” who helped him through tough times and kept his family on track. Lead producer Chuck Lorre, who cast actor-comedian in ‘Mike & Molly’ and again in ‘Bob Hurts Abishola,’ “literally changed my life.”
The accolade seems heartfelt, a match opposite to Gardell: a boy with a working-class background who considers himself remarkably lucky to have twice landed a network TV star. He’s not overly self-destructive—he’s proud of a stand-up and stretching as an actor—but isn’t one to brag.
CBS is bringing “Bob Hart’s Abishola” back this fall, safe from the cancellation ax that claimed three other network sitcoms (“How We Roll,” “Be Positive” and “United States of Al”). Folake Olowofoyeku stars opposite Gardell in the series that wraps up its third season on Monday at 8:30 p.m. EDT.
“I can’t believe this (abusive) happened twice to anyone. I’m still in disbelief,” Gardell said on congratulating him on the pickup. “My wife says I have a horseshoe in the rear end, and I’m starting to think he’s right.”
In “Mike and Molly”, which ran for six seasons, Gardell and Melissa McCarthy played a couple who met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. In the new sitcom, Bob and Abishola meet in a hospital: he is a middle-aged boy who had a heart attack; It is the young, African-born cardiac unit nurse who takes care of him. He follows her and they get married.
He says that Lore tells him “‘You are a compression sock salesman who falls in love with a Nigerian nurse.’ How come you don’t smile at that? Where else are you going to hear it?” Gardell said.
The two series have “the same secret sauce, that love triumphs” even when couples have to deal with differences, he said. “I think if you’re lucky at the end of the day to have a hand to hold, you’ve won the game.”
Born in the Pittsburgh borough of Swisswell, Gardell grew up in Pennsylvania and Florida after his parents divorced. He was a self-described “chubby kid” who got the impression that he could be funny on TV, partly by watching Jackie Gleason on “The Honeymooners.” Gardell began as a stand-up artist, influenced by his father’s eclectic taste, which included albums including George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Bob Newhart.
As a comedian “I’m pretty in the middle of the road, meat and potatoes”, Gardell said. “I talk about being married and having a child. A very blue-collar, very Midwest sense of humor – don’t take yourself too seriously.”
He combined club dates and acting with recurring or guest roles in various TV dramas and comedies including “The Practice,” “King of Queens” and “My Name is Earl” and as a voice actor for animated shows. Phineas and Ferb.”
But work was cut short and Gardell thought his career “was done in Hollywood … Nothing had happened for a few years, and my wife and I weren’t in the best of places at the time, and I’m trying. Was sure we were okay.”
He had given up drinking (“It was out of control,” he said) and was focused on repairing his marriage when he proposed to “Mike and Molly.” His first reaction was to say no, worrying about his family and some serious self-doubt.
Lorre “helped me get into that role, because I was scared. I thought, “I don’t know if I’m the lead, if I can do that,” Gardell recalled. “And to the credit of my wife. For, when I got a call from Chuck he said, ‘You’ve got it.'”
The producers, whose hit comedies include “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” are Gardel’s on-screen and off-screen fans.
“There is something magical about Billy that makes you root for him. It makes you care,” Lorre said. “And of course comedy is in his DNA. If the joke is good, he will make it great “
Gardel himself is “a pleasure,” said Lorre. “He is kind and considerate to everyone on stage. He is a daily example of the consummate professional.”
While Gardel was concerned — not without reason, he says — that quitting alcohol meant he wouldn’t be funny, he had no hesitation in losing weight to improve his health. Viewers of “Bob Hart’s Abishola” have seen him slim down, the result of gastric-bypass surgery and mindful eating. His health improved significantly, including his blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, which he called “gone.”
“I am happier than I have been in many years,” Gardell said, but cautioned that he is not asking others to follow his lead and perform the operation, which he considered for years before doing it. Was.
“It’s a very personal decision. For me it was the right one. I want to be clear about it,” he said. He still has to defend against obesity and “strives to surround himself with things that make me feel good.” Helping you make healthier choices.”
Gardell said that he received zero pushback from the producers of “Bob Hart’s Abishola” about changing from a larger funnyman to a less-heavy version, with Lorre telling him that it was healthy for his character to fit in with a heart attack. need to be.
“We’ll just accept it on the show that you’re taking better care of yourself, because that’s the truth,” Gardell recalled telling Lore to her.
While he appreciates the security of the job, he considers his wife and their college-going son, Will, a real gift.
“The life my wife has created for me and our son has always been more important than my career,” Gardel said. “As long as your life outside of your career defines you, you are not defined by the ups and downs of your career.”