A long time ago, when Billy Gardell was a young comedian, he was asked to fill in for George Carlin’s opening act. It was only one night, but Carlin gave Gardell advice he carries to this day.
“He said, ‘Always write about what’s going on in your life,’ ” Gardell remembers.
“I said, ‘What if nothing’s going on with your life?’
“He said, ‘Well. Get busy living.’ ”
“You always want to be writing about what’s happening in the world,” Carlin told him. “Not observation; you can sprinkle that stuff in there. But people really connect with truths, with the weirdness of life.”
I tell Gardell I say something similar when I speak to students. I always say: Become a funny and interesting person, then write with your mouth open, because that way, funny and interesting things will just fall out of your mouth onto the page.
“Yeah,” Gardell says. “You have to be amongst life.”
Gardell (the star of “Mike &Molly,” along with Melissa McCarthy) performs Friday and Saturday at the Orleans Showroom.
(That showroom was known as Carlin’s room before he died in 2008.)
Gardell isn’t planning to do much stand-up comedy this year, outside of his Orleans gigs, because he plans to get busy living with his family.
“My son is going into middle school. I’ve decided to take time off this summer to hang with him,” Gardell, 44, says.
I say to Gardell, “What kind of show business father are you that you take care of your kid? That’s crazy.”
“The kind that knows what’s important,” he says.
I ask him what it’s like to raise a kid around Hollywood, with all its temptations and baubles.
“I think your kid learns his character in your house. If you’re paying attention to that, he’s going to know how to navigate outside the house.
“We work hard. When an opportunity comes, we seize it. And then if something good comes from that, we’re grateful for it. If you keep those attitudes, you don’t become one of those entitled monsters you read about.”
I ask him if his old stand-up joke is true, that he quit smoking marijuana for the sake of his family.
“I quit smoking weed way before I quit drinking,” he says. “I didn’t want to miss my family life by being loaded, so I quit drinking. But I quit smoking weed in the early ’90s.
“Do you know when I quit? When it got too strong and you could hear your heartbeat. That was a little too much for me. I just wanted to get buzzed and watch a movie. When I started hearing blood arteries, I was like, ‘You know what?’ ”
Gardell soon will enter his fifth season on his CBS sitcom. It’s really impressive when a show on broadcast TV gets a fifth season in 2014. As Gardell put it:
“Getting a fifth season is right up there with catching a unicorn.”
DUDES JUMPED OFF THE PARIS
Two Red Bull jumpers parachuted off of the top of Paris Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the real Eiffel Tower in Paris and as a stunt to get attention for our Vegas tower. So I have obliged their craziness by posting video of their lunacy online. Check it out.
MIDDLE-AGE KIDS ON THE BLOCK
But they’re still called New Kids on the Block, officially, and they’re selling tickets for probably a lot of money (not sure yet) for fans to party with them for four days in Britney Spears’ theater in Planet Hollywood Resort, instead of on the cruise ship they usually ride with fans. Tickets go on sale April 4.
Mayors Carolyn and Oscar Goodman saw Terry Fator’s Mirage show on Tuesday, with family, to celebrate her birthday. I recently wrote that I rarely see politicians at shows on the Strip, so I’m glad the mayor is getting around.
Speaking of politics and entertainment, on March 14, Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow hung with 14 bikini-clad female servers holding raised champagne flutes at MGM’s Wet Republic dayclub to present them and club VP Derek Silberstein with a “Wet Republic Day” proclamation. That’s what I call taxation with representation.
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.