On Saturday night, Billy Gardell had both students and families laughing hysterically in their seats at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. Through hilarious anecdotes about his own family and pieces of advice told from the perspective of the “cool uncle,” Gardell assured the audience that his performance would be the highlight of UConn’s Family Weekend activities.
The show opened with stand-up comedian Ben Creed, who set the tone of the night with own funny anecdotes about his affinity for old couples, his distaste for travel and his heart condition.
Afterwards, the star of “Mike and Molly” took the stage in true Family Weekend fashion as “the cool uncle,” Gardell said. He focused his routine around themes such as marriage, age and young stupidity. He urged the young people, particularly the young men, in the audience to accept that at this point in their lives they’re “idiots,” to use Gardell’s choice of words. If they don’t, he warned, they’re going to be 40 years old and living in their mother’s basement with a chain attached to their wallet with no money in it. Students and parents alike cackled in their seats. They continued to laugh just as hard as he referenced the joke throughout the night.
Gardell continued with the theme of stupidity through the context of his marriage. “I believe that men need marriage… We’re no good unsupervised,” Gardell said. He went on to describe how his wife still asks him what he’s thinking even though she hasn’t liked an answer throughout the eighteen years they’ve been married. He says that he will never tell his wife what he’s thinking because “it’s so stupid, [she] couldn’t handle it,” at which point the audience broke into loud and knowing laughter.
Gardell also used a variety of voice impressions throughout his performance. The audience laughed as he mimicked the patronizing voice of his wife asking if he read the directions and the snobbish voice of a millennial ordering a drink with the “tears of an orphan” at Starbucks. Towards the end, the audience found it particularly funny when he talked about his desire to lose 70 pounds. He says how he got a Romanian trainer and he explains how he couldn’t work out with a stereotypical workout enthusiast. Gardell proved his point by saying, in an overly peppy voice, “Hi, I’m Chad. Ready to do some cardio?” Students and parents laughed at his near perfect impression. Katherine Simonetti, a first semester computer science and engineering major, remarked after the show that these different voices were her favorite part of the show.
As the show approached the ends, he struck a more sentimental yet still hilarious tone. He said how he also wants to become part of an “old couple” before he dies because they inspire him. Gardell went on to explain “the kind of couple who’s been together so long they can start a fight without even talking,” at which point the audience broke into laughter, particularly the parents.
He closed the show on an inspiring note by urging the students in the audience not to lose hope. “You are the answer,” said Gardell. He was sent off with a standing ovation, showing just how well-received his routine was.
Benjamin Adams, a first semester undecided major in the school of business, praised Gardell. “It was good… you have to know your audience as a comedian. There were a lot of jokes that were specifically appealing to family.” Spencer Vlandis, a first semester accounting major agreed with Adams. He said that it was a “great show… [that] kept the sleep deprived students awake. Anybody else, I would have fallen asleep for. It was really, really good.”
Alexis Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.