Las Vegas Sun

October 26, 2021

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Face you might know from TV to appear onstage

Billy Gardell


Billy Gardell.

If You Go

  • Who: Billy Gardell
  • When: 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
  • Where: Bonkerz Comedy Club, Palace Station
  • Tickets: $29.95, $19.95 for Nevada residents and hotel guests; 367-2411

Beyond the Sun

Comedian Billy Gardell is fed up with living in Los Angeles and plans to move — just as soon as the work runs out.

“It seems like every time I get ready to leave I get booked on a new TV series,” says Gardell, who brings his stand-up comedy act to Palace Station’s Bonkerz Comedy Club Thursday through Saturday.

Lately he’s been playing Officer Hoyne on the sitcom “My Name Is Earl.” But he’s been working steadily since he voiced a character on the animated “Gary the Rat.” He’s appeared in more than a dozen shows, including “Yes, Dear,” “The Practice,” “Judging Amy” and even “CSI.”

Despite the work, he says he’s serious about leaving California.

“I just can’t take it anymore,” he says. “It’s a young man’s game out here. I have a wife and child now. I’ve had a good run.”

Maybe he’ll move to Florida, the Pittsburgh native says. That’s where his professional comedy career began, when he was 19 years old. He worked at Bonkerz in Central Florida. Bonkerz owner Joe Sanfelippo gave him his break.

He became a comedian on a bet.

“I was loading trucks at a dock at a department store and I used to make guys on the line laugh,” he says. One of the men on the line bet him $50 he wouldn’t go an open mike night at a comedy club. “I had to do it. I couldn’t pay the bet if I didn’t.”

He was making a living two years after he started making the rounds of comedy clubs across the country. After 10 years in the business, his manager persuaded him to move to Los Angeles, where he fell into acting.

“If you need a bad guy or a stumbling cop, I can handle that,” he says.

One of his favorite acting gigs was the Las Vegas-based “Lucky,” which starred John Corbett as a compulsive gambler. The dark comedy ran for one season on the FX Network and was nominated for an Emmy for its writing.

“It was nominated and then it was canceled,” Gardell says.

Currently Gardell is working on an hourlong special for Comedy Central for January.

“Stand-up is my bread and butter, but I don’t like to travel as much as I used to,” Gardell says.

“But I love Vegas. My first gig in Vegas was at a little bar ... That first night there all I did was drive up and down the Strip. It was the first time I’d seen all that neon at night. I said then, ‘Man, I’m going to get back here.’ And now I’m going to be there working for the guy that got me started in comedy.”

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