The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan is a stately venue, one that was in its glory a majestic movie house that brought downtown films to the North Shore. Times have changed and although the theater has been refurbished and its beauty restored, it is not where you might expect a “cabaret” type show or even a comedy night. It is a larger venue so the intimacy of what a comedian brings to “the table”, so to speak is lost, but thankfully Billy Gardell, of “Mike and Molly” fame on TV found a way to break through the barrier that the size of the theater created to bring his audience the feeling of a much smaller theater.
Funny men like Billy are amazingly clever in that they have the ability to see things from a different perspective. His common sense approach to everyday items made into comic stories is easy to accept as the subjects that he brings up are as common to the audience members as they are to him. His stories are very relatable to every man and woman in his audience. When he talks about his parents and his relationship with them, we all find ourselves thinking about our personal relationships with our family members or someone we know that has situations very similar to his.
Gardell is easy going in his approach and almost everyone in the audience became close with him as he told us stories of his growing up in Pittsburgh, and his early Midwestern roots. Funny, about his being in Waukegan, though as he truly thought he was in Wisconsin. I know a number of audience members were, as many of the cars in the parking lot had Wisconsin plates. Of course, Waukegan is pretty near the state line, so that is understandable.
When Billy spoke about his wife and the health ordeals they have experienced, we could see the depth of the man and how caring he is for his family. Yet, being the ultimate comic, he still finds humor in every situation and shares these stories and anecdotes with us. This proves the old adage that laughter is good for what ails you, and I know that we left the theater on a very happy note, leaving all of our personal problems in the aisle (at least for the week-end). Billy is still “on the road” so if you want to catch up with him, visit www.billygardell.com.
To see what other comics, concerts and performances are coming to the Genesee, visit www.geneseetheatre.com. The theater is located downtown Waukegan at 203 N. Genesee Street. To call the box office, 1-847-263-6300. If you have never been there, find something to see (play,concert,kids show, comedian) so you can have the experience that we enjoyed in the luxury of days past.