Gallagher
January 5, 2010 4:53 AM   Subscribe

Leo Gallagher is an American comedian of some renown. Hugely popular in the 80s, Gallagher gained fame through stand-up routines in which he used many props. Here is Gallagher delighting the crowd by jumping on a large couch. Of course, Gallagher's most popular act, dubbed the Sledge-o-Matic, involved smashing watermelons and other fruit with a huge wooden mallet. Twenty years later, Gallagher is still wowing his fans by destroying foodstuffs. Black Gallagher messed up his watermelons using a different method. Maybe you went to go see Gallagher a few years ago, only to have mistakenly seen Gallagher's brother, Gallagher Too? Gallagher and his brother are now estranged. These days, Gallagher seems like a pretty angry guy.
posted by billysumday (188 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
MetaFilter: almost like having a real Gallagher show
posted by DU at 4:58 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You buried the lede. People, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you check out the last link, which leads to a rambling interview in which Gallagher at times seems: 1. like a grandpa telling the kids to get off his lawn. 2. Like some drug-addled bi-polar dude who jumps from one non-sequitur to the next with amazing speed. And 3. epically, comically proud of himself. The height is when he talks about how nobody likes him anymore because everyone has become content with mediocrity. Because his schtick was the height of wit.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 5:06 AM on January 5, 2010 [27 favorites]


Why yes! Related: The Saddest and/or Greatest Costume Ever! and the MetaTalk thread.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:06 AM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


From the last link:
Parents are trying to be friends with their kids rather than draw the line and tell them what proper public behavior would be. If you can go out in public with your underwear showing and your pants below your butt; if girls can wear a top that shows their bra as part of the fashion; if kids are getting tattoos that cause you to react because of the size of the tattoo and the colors of the tattoo, extending their earlobes, you know, bone through their nose—all of these things work because they’re wrong. It’s the wrong thing to do, and they’re trying to get a reaction out of people, and the reason people react is because it’s wrong.
You heard it here first: Gallagher's new act is telepathically channelling the voice of Bill Cosby.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:07 AM on January 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow, that guy is pretty crazy. For all his complaints that comics aren't paying attention to their craft, he seems unwilling to own up to his own past statements. Kinda neat. I bet 'opening' for Gallagher grows in popularity when comics realize he'll try to interrupt and engage them on stage. The openers will get some good footage of mocking the old crazy man, but that's OK because Gallagher will have lost the audience's sympathy.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:18 AM on January 5, 2010


Also, my absolute favorite quote from that interview:
I’ve got a point of view that I don’t mind expressing, because I’m really not ruining a career that’s not really happening.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:18 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


nobody likes him anymore because everyone has become content with mediocrity.

Yeah, as I was reading that (with my mouth hanging open in dumbstruckitude) I was mentally reviewing the little Gallagher I'm familiar with, trying to figure out how to recast it into some kind of subversive pinnacle. I'm not getting anything. I thought this guy was lame when I was 14 and that's really saying something.

That said, I can kind of see it from his POV. He wasn't good but he (apparently) did his best. If someone else has more ability but doesn't try as hard, who is really "better"?
posted by DU at 5:18 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll see your Gallagher and raise you a combined Metallica/Gallagher tribute act called Metallagher.

(who, I guess, recently shared a show billing with Gallagher last month in St. Paul; no word on if Gallagher freaked out and called them mediocre)
posted by COBRA! at 5:20 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Make sure you also read the Oregonian interview linked to in the first part of the A/V Club interview.
[Tom Hanks] and Michael Keaton would meet someone in the movie business and, bang, they’re millionaires and living in Beverly Hills. You have (my) skill and ability and you’re renting a condo.
He seems really upset that people who started out in stand-up went on to be successful doing something else despite the fact that he didn't think their stand-up routines were any good.
posted by Jugwine at 5:27 AM on January 5, 2010


You buried the lede.

It's called a punchline and it goes at the end of a joke. MEDIOCRITY!
posted by DU at 5:28 AM on January 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


Gallagher railing against mediocrity is like Ed Gein railing against cannibalism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:31 AM on January 5, 2010 [14 favorites]


Bitter old comedian is bitter (and old).
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:31 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of that interview is when he rails against drinking water onstage. Hydration is a sign of mediocrity! Don't drink it! Keep flowing water away from mouth! All-one! All-one! Smashed watermelon? None! OK!
posted by Greg Nog at 5:34 AM on January 5, 2010 [27 favorites]


Does a pair of Gallaghers beat a pair of Andrew WKs?
posted by nickjadlowe at 5:34 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gallagher: Comedians need meaning. We need to know what words mean, and our society now is intent on blurring the meaning of just about everything. And the legal system also! “What is an adult? What’s premeditation? What is a felony?” It’s very difficult. “What’s improper behavior?” I ask these cops. If the kids already have their pants mostly down and they’re facing a wall, how do you know they’re not about to pee on the wall? Because this is what you do with homeless guys. You would catch them with their pants half down and you would get them for indecent exposure and public urination. And the cop told me, you can’t arrest them until you see the “brown round.”

AVC: What? What’s that?

Gallagher: That’s your dick. I guess everybody has a brown dick.
posted by billysumday at 5:36 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had Gallagher on my radio show, in person, a few years ago when he was in town. Reaaaallly strange experience. Normally you can see what is persona and what is the "real person." I could detect absolutely no dividing line. And I can't at all remember what we talked about, just thinking, this is the strangest conversation I've ever had - and that the strangest parts took place after the microphones were off, when he went off into really unexpected intellectual tangents, like interpolating things from history and books he was reading. He never once came across as a "funny guy," but takes things incredibly seriously.
posted by jbickers at 5:38 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I imagine when Gallagher finally kills himself, that sledgehammer's gonna be mighty handy.
posted by fungible at 5:40 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've never understood moderately famous people who do stuff like this, pissing in all directions all over their colleagues, and possibly on the very people who could give their carreer a boost. It just seems ultimately self-destructive. And it also seems bizarre to whine about having to work small clubs and rent a condo while at the same time slamming actively alienating everyone in the business from you. What a weird guy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:40 AM on January 5, 2010


Gallagher is EXTREMELY edgy and anti-authoritarian...provided you live under some autarchic producocracy.
posted by hell toupee at 5:44 AM on January 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


I recall watching some of his specials way back in the day and coming away thinking that, even then, there was a strangely dick-ish person behind all that mayhem. Looks like I was right beyond my imagination.

That said, I can't completely disagree about his observation about today's comics. I mean...Dane Cook??? Really?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:46 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You spend thirty years on the road while your career slowly becomes the joke, and then see if you don't sound bitter. The shocker would be if he were amiable and good-natured about it all. Entertainers live on a bell curve like everybody else, except in public. Then throw in that comedians are batshitinsane to start with, and the young mediocre comic ripens into a bitter, angry old comic.

Which ironically results in more funny than Gallagher's generated in years.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:48 AM on January 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Gallagher, or "Gallagher" - I don't know, spent his New Year's Eve playing a gig at an Oklahoma casino. Tickets were free. I'd be pretty disgusted too if I were him. Just sayin'.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:52 AM on January 5, 2010


I kinda feel bad for the guy. I mean, here's a guy who's spent the last thirty years trying to be the best damn watermelon smasher he could be and now what does he have? Even less respect than Rodney Dangerfield.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:53 AM on January 5, 2010


The jokes that Gallagher decided should be on the main page of his website...

Bill and Hillary confuse America. Who has the cajones in that family? Since they're both politicians, I think they've made a deal and they each have one.
A President Hillary would confuse state dinners too. After a meal, couples like to walk and talk. Usually the men talk and the women talk. But Hillary would need to talk to the man with power. That leaves Bill to talk to the wife and that's not smart for anybody.
Well-known ana-wreck-sick Nicole Richie had to stop trying to breast feed her new baby when the poor little thing's cheeks collapsed and mamma' was treated for a hickie on her tittie.
Don't send money to rebuild New Orleans, send dirt. You don't look up at a river!
How does a slut feel? Whore-a-ble.
If we dump anti-freeze down the drains why are we surprised the poles are melting? Duh!
Why don't kids pull up their pants? They can't run from the cops with their pants half off. Duh!
Why do girls put a butterfly over their butt? There's no nectar down there.
There's a sign on the side of the road that explains why we fart. It says,"Gas...Food Lodging."
Why does it say "On" and "Off" on a light switch? If it's on you can see it's on and if it's off, you can't see to read.
Well we elected Bush because he was the kinda guy you could have a beer with and now things are so bad we're drinking. Happy now?
posted by orme at 5:57 AM on January 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


He was, at best, the number two watermelon smasher in the biz. David Letterman's schtick of chucking random shit off a roof resulted in much smashiered watermelons.
posted by NoMich at 5:58 AM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


After reading orme's list of jokes from Gallagher's web site, I conclude that Gallagher is nothing but a second-rate Neil Hamburger.
posted by NoMich at 5:59 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember early in his career hearing him on the radio and he sounded almost cerebral (at least to my 13 year old ears) making jokes about philosophy and some almost George Carlin-like observations. But then I'd see him on TV and he showed no signs of the guy I heard interviewed on the radio. Each time he popped up on TV his schtick got a little lamer and watered down and pretty early on he brought out more cringes than laughs from me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:04 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


A year or two ago, he did a set at the local comedy club here. One of the morning radio shows had him in studio the morning before the show, and he steadfastly refused to talk about his act, the history of his act, or indeed do anything that remotely approximated comedy during the interview, which was of course the entire reason he was booked. He was a complete dick who got the hook after about 5 minutes.

I'd be shocked if Zanies did much business that night.
posted by rhythim at 6:09 AM on January 5, 2010


Hydration is a sign of mediocrity!

He's kinda right. You don't see water bottles onstage during plays. He's taking a purist's perspective—whatever is onstage should serve the comedy; and if it doesn't, it shouldn't be there.

Yes, the guy's a dick. Taking a casino gig and then complaining (and walking out!) because the audience isn't comprised of "my fans filled with love and admiration and thankfulness that told me how much I’d meant to them over the years"? Yeah, that's absurd.

But a lot of what he says is right. Especially about comedy. Interrupting that kid in the August 2008 clip? The kid had lost the audience, and Gallagher was right about how to fix it. He was trying to show the kid something. You might think, "But neither Eric nor the audience came expecting to be schooled, and it was unprofessional!" And I suppose that's valid...but being schooled onstage is a pretty venerable tradition in show business. That particular instance was comparatively very, very polite.

he seems unwilling to own up to his own past statements

He's right about that part, too: It's a consequence of Internet culture, and not a good one, that people are depicted as inconsistent or worse if they don't stand 100% behind every word they uttered X years ago. If I were a celebrity walking into interviews and the first question was always, "Hey, let's talk about that controversial comment you made five years ago," I imagine it would get pretty tiresome.
posted by cribcage at 6:12 AM on January 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


On the minus side: Gallagher seems to think that, among other cultural failings, hecklers are somehow a recent phenomenon. This is ahistorical thinking in the extreme, or, as a comedian lesser than Gallagher would put it, "shit-balls stupid." The interview reeks with the moldy, moist cheese odor of a man who hasn't been called out on his bullshit for decades.

On the plus side: He mentions GWAR.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:16 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


being schooled onstage is a pretty venerable tradition in show business.

Really? Onstage? Can you give a couple of other examples?
posted by mediareport at 6:19 AM on January 5, 2010


Also: "I know that I have spent my life paying attention to my art form, developing my art form, worrying about my show and what it is I’m bringing to people, making sure that I give them a fine trade. They get a two-hour show, sometimes a three-hour show, for a decent price. And I’m rewarded with immature, drunken behavior. Why in the hell did I sit at home thinking up really intelligent, insightful comments on the passing American scene just to end up at a drunken brawl where the things I say have to be yelled over the yelling that’s already going on?"

THIS IS THE JOB DESCRIPTION FOR A STANDUP COMEDIAN. YOU WILL NOT FIND A STANDUP ANYWHERE WHO DOESN'T THINK THIS. YOU ARE NOT UNIQUE.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:19 AM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's a consequence of Internet culture, and not a good one, that people are depicted as inconsistent or worse if they don't stand 100% behind every word they uttered X years ago.

Not really a consequence of Internet culture so much as a consequence of being famous. Famous people have uttered regrettable things that they've had to try and live down long before the Internet existed, simply because people write down/videotape what famous people have to say. The Internet does make it easier to find that material, but being asked to explain a quote from X years ago isn't solely an Internet Age phenomenon.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that Gallagher's lookalike brother has copied his act fascinates me. It immediately reminded me of Houdini, who had his act stolen by not one but two brothers. His own flesh and blood brother Theo "Dash" Weiss, who went by the stage name Hardeen, was a successful magician in his own right. (He actually was the better illusionist of the two, as Houdini was an escape artist first and foremost.) When Houdini no longer needed an illusion in his stage act he'd give it to Dash, and then provided advance publicity by publically decrying Hardeen as a "thief" (and in doing so, inviting people to see his supposed rival and judge for themselves.) Only after Houdini's death was Hardeen legitimized as rightful heir to the goodies, but he'd been the rightful heir all along.

Houdini was truly copied by his brother in stage name as well. Jacob Hyman was a childhood friend of Erich Weiss and was Houdini's first partner. They billed themselves as The Houdini Brothers and, depending on whose story you believe, Hyman was the one who coined the name Houdini.

In his subsequent solo career Hyman used the Houdini surname from time to time until Weiss got fed up and issued a very real public decrying. According to the link above, Hyman acquiesced and eventually quit show business altogether.

I wish I had something more to say about Gallagher, but except for the awesome fact that he's got an act-stealing brother, he doesn't much interest me. Bitter stand-up comics who resent those who made it better than they did are rather common these days.
posted by Spatch at 6:21 AM on January 5, 2010 [21 favorites]


Back in like '85 or '86, a colleague at a consumer entertainment magazine I worked for did a phone interview with Gallagher. One particular question (which was very innocuous) infuriated Gallagher, who immediately launched into a rant starting with, "Do you know who the fuck I am? Do you? I'm the first fucking star of cable!" He was angry & petty. The interview ended shortly afterward, but we had fun listening to the recording over and over. From then on, every time I saw him on TV, the first thing that came to mind was, "there's the first fucking star of cable!"

Dick.
posted by VicNebulous at 6:23 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Plus: Metallagher \m/
They had Gallagher join them at a recent show.
posted by smallvictories at 6:25 AM on January 5, 2010


"All women are sluts. I hate Mexicans. Fart." -- Gallagher
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:25 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I mean...Dane Cook??? Really?

Amen. Cook has never made me laugh once. He always looks like he's trying too hard.

I like Russell Peters.
posted by bwg at 6:28 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm the first fucking star of cable!

I thought soft-core porn was the the first fucking star of cable.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:30 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons, Green Clovers, and Orange Stars - that leprechaun's on acid!

That's one unbelievable interview at the AV Club, the hubris of this guy is jaw-dropping.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:32 AM on January 5, 2010


Well I think he's right and that's just testament to how grumpy I've become.
posted by mazola at 6:35 AM on January 5, 2010


Reading the linked interviews and watching that Youtube clip from the AV Club one, I feel a bit conflicted. On the one hand, if he's really as astute at gauging people's reactions and judging the mood as he claims to be, he ought to realise that griping from the beginning to the end of the interview while loudly proclaiming his own talent is going to come off as arrogant and unpleasant to some people. And I really felt for the guy he takes off stage at that stand-up gig, taking the mic from his hand as saying: 'You lost 'em.'

That audience was there to see me, and those kids were ruining my audience... And I didn’t want that. My audience was cooling off. They were not skilled comedians. So I jumped onstage so that the audience would see me, and that I could keep it going. I was actually using those comics as props. Too bad.

The kid had lost the audience, and Gallagher was right about how to fix it. He was trying to show the kid something.

I thought this at first, but on reflection I disagree. The comic's material might not be the best, but you try getting the audience to listen to your punchlines when the main act's making a show of walking about in front of the stage, wearing an expression that clearly communicates I hate this. And for all his supposed performance acumen and skill, Gallagher goes on to rant about how he can't perform unless it's in front of a home crowd of 'fans filled with love and admiration and thankfulness'. Any idiot can get a great reaction out of a happy, sympathetic audience. The real skill is getting a good reaction out of an unhappy, unsympathetic audience. If he didn't want the crowd to cool off, he could have just as easily sat towards the back and laughed generously at the comedians' jokes, instead of running interference.

On the other hand... actually, you know what? No. There are a few mitigating circumstances but I've pretty much convinced myself he's a bona fide asshat. When his gigs go well, it's solely down to his personal genius. When his gigs go badly, it's a symptom of America's love affair with mediocrity. 'Servant of the audience' my eye.
posted by RokkitNite at 6:36 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


If nothing else Gallagher will go down in history as the man who popularized the hairstyle known as "The Skullet" thereby opening the doors for performers like Devin Townsend.
posted by MikeMc at 6:37 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yikes! Gallagher was never funny. Even when our appetite for comedy was insatiable, you could always pass on Gallagher. I'm rather astonished that he can still get booked. That's an act?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:41 AM on January 5, 2010


To me, Gallagher is what happened to disgruntled Vietnam vets that turned into rightwingers. Remember that he used to have a kind of 70s hippy vibe to his schtick. But, if you look back at his early work, it was pretty obvious that he was a racist, a right winger, and a crank. When viewed through this prism, I think his interview and website jokes make plenty of sense.
posted by readyfreddy at 6:47 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know that I have spent my life paying attention to my art form, developing my art form, worrying about my show and what it is I’m bringing to people, making sure that I give them a fine trade. They get a two-hour show, sometimes a three-hour show, for a decent price. And I’m rewarded with immature, drunken behavior.

dude, you smash watermelons for a living - what did you expect, a sophisticated audience?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:53 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kinda feel bad for the guy. I mean, here's a guy who's spent the last thirty years trying to be the best damn watermelon smasher he could be and now what does he have? Even less respect than Rodney Dangerfield.

I always thought it was sad that Gallagher got reduced to "the guy who smashes watermelons." I remember watching his early standup on TV when I was a kid, and even then it was clear to me that he had more of a message than just being a silly clown who makes a mess. The idea of the Sledge-o-Matic was originally to break all your possessions, which he would do in a fit of anti-consumerist rage, breaking stuff like TVs and VCRs on stage. It was only at the end that he would do a watermelon, but I guess that's what people responded to the most, because, hey, it's funny when you get sprayed with watermelon, so he became known for just that. The rest of his act was all about the frustrations of living in modern American society and a kind of childlike wish for a return to simpler times, which I guess he's now channeling into just generally being a dick. I imagine it must be frustrating for him to see his life's work get so triviliazed, but really he's got noone to blame but himself.
posted by albrecht at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


being schooled onstage is a pretty venerable tradition in show business.

Really? Onstage? Can you give a couple of other examples?


Possibly the ultimate example. This really veers back and forth across the line between being funny and just hard to look at.
posted by Naberius at 6:56 AM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hydration is a sign of mediocrity!

He's kinda right. You don't see water bottles onstage during plays. He's taking a purist's perspective—whatever is onstage should serve the comedy; and if it doesn't, it shouldn't be there.


You do at one-person shows.

He's not taking a purist's perspective as much as he's taking the pedantic prick's perspective.
posted by papercake at 6:56 AM on January 5, 2010


That AV Club interview portrays a chilling meld of the Anti-Carlin -- the one from the mirror universe, without the goatee -- combined with Hectoring Cosby, the least liked of the Cosby Clones, and that guy that keeps writing letters to the editor, knowing that the newspaper is small enough that they have to run whatever weird crank mail they get in.
posted by Shepherd at 6:57 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well I think he's right and that's just testament to how grumpy I've become.

He can be right about things and still be a dick.
posted by device55 at 6:58 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Why in the hell did I sit at home thinking up really intelligent, insightful comments on the passing American scene just to end up at a drunken brawl where the things I say have to be yelled over the yelling that’s already going on? "


Dude, smashing watermelons with a hammer isn't really intelligent nor insightful. People saw him because the 80s were all about being "wacky".
posted by stormpooper at 6:59 AM on January 5, 2010


This really veers back and forth across the line between being funny and just hard to look at.

Don't people tend to not only expect but desire to be gutted at Roasts? I think that might be different than the guy you're opening for taking the mic from you, talking to you like a four-year-old, and peppering his wisdom with some remarks about "faggy French people".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:00 AM on January 5, 2010


Bill Hicks: "Only America could produce a comic named 'Gallagher' who ends his show by destroying good food with a sledgehammer. Gee; I wonder why we're hated the world over?"
posted by TedW at 7:00 AM on January 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ah, I see now that Jamie Foxx interrupts the roaster to "school" him. Another comedian well known for his humility and grand sense of humor.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:04 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is strange when paired with the last Gallagher clip I saw on TV: he was wearing a tye-dye shirt, talking about getting the right consistency for a gooey prop and holes in his mallets, as part of the Pen (and Teller?) search for the world's oldest/greatest joke. He seemed fairly jovial, but it still seemed sad that he was still in search of the perfect exploding prop gag. Decades spent trying to perfect one stunt.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:07 AM on January 5, 2010


I thought that the purpose of having a water bottle or glass on stage was pretty obvious: it gives the comedian an excuse to pause for a few seconds, either to provide a break for a beat or two in their set--setting off longer routines from each other--or just to stretch it out a little. Comparing a stand-up routine to a play is absurd.

It makes sense that Gallagher doesn't want to stretch out his act, though, because he probably just wants to get through it, smash the fucking watermelon*, and go back to his true vocation, which is apparently full-time self-pity.

*I loathe the whole idea of Punk'd, but I'd make an exception to be able to see Gallagher's reaction if he orders a dessert in a restaurant and gets served a whole watermelon instead. Something tells me that it's probably been done, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2010


Gallagher seems to think that, among other cultural failings, hecklers are somehow a recent phenomenon.

Gallagher probably hasn't been heckled much in his career. Who the hell is going to heckle a crazy old man when he's holding a sledgehammer?
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 7:23 AM on January 5, 2010


Speaking of things that are painful to watch: Gallagher alienates his audience.

I loathe the whole idea of Punk'd, but I'd make an exception to be able to see Gallagher's reaction if he orders a dessert in a restaurant and gets served a whole watermelon instead.


and then have the waiter ask for his autograph, and during the signing say, "You were awesome in that Faith No More video!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:25 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Marisa, maybe we just have different understandings of what it is to 'school' someone. I certainly don't think of it as, "Here kid, let me show how you can do that better." Not in comedy at least.

And I can't really disagree with Foxx. Williams had nothing; he was dying and taking the show down with him. Once Foxx jumped in, the part that wasn't about building his ego and squashing the other guy's was actually funny. For me, the painful part of that isn't so much what Foxx did as watching Williams bungle the chance to play along with it, treat it as a hand up (even though that's definitely not how it wasn't meant), and come out looking a lot better than he did.
posted by Naberius at 7:25 AM on January 5, 2010


The rest of his act was all about the frustrations of living in modern American society and a kind of childlike wish for a return to simpler times

Pretty much the mainstay of curmudgeony conservatism.

which I guess he's now channeling into just generally being a dick.

Same.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:27 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Speaking of things that are painful to watch: Gallagher alienates his audience

OOOOOOOOOOUCH.
posted by billysumday at 7:30 AM on January 5, 2010


To be honest, I got about halfway through the video before I had to close it. You're right; it was pretty painful and Williams was third rate. I'm allergic to Foxx, which is where my bias forced me to close the tab.

I still don't know if this is really a comedy tradition for the headlining act to mock and belittle the amateur opener. Maybe Foxx was just in a roasty mood. Either way, some comedy traditions are more mean-spirited than others. Take Don Rickles, for example.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:31 AM on January 5, 2010


Woah woah woah. I'm calling bullshit on his mediocrity rant. The the only reason he was ever famous was due to America's love of mediocrity, and he's smart enough to know that. I think he's too cranky and defensive, but I don't think he's that stupid.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:32 AM on January 5, 2010


It's a consequence of Internet culture, and not a good one, that people are depicted as inconsistent or worse if they don't stand 100% behind every word they uttered X years ago. If I were a celebrity walking into interviews and the first question was always, "Hey, let's talk about that controversial comment you made five years ago," I imagine it would get pretty tiresome.

It's certainly interesting, though, that he starts out by grousing about how that interview has followed him around and then immediately goes on to give an even crazier interview that will undoubtedly follow him around even longer.

There's a lot of real racist undercurrent in his speech, which the previously linked review of the Metallagher/Gallagher show seems to indicate has been a well-known part of his act for a while now. I had no idea there was anything to Gallagher other than watermelons, but apparently he's been swinging hard to the right for a long time.
posted by anazgnos at 7:35 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's really upset that his audiences are drunk? Aren't you supposed to be drunk when you watch stand-up comedy? I need a drink after reading that interview. And it's 10:30.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:38 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The review of the Metallagher/Gallagher show is one of the best articles I've read in a while. After Gallagher opens up for Metallagher with a 90-minute rant about a bunch of different ethnic and cultural groups he dislikes, culminating in the smashing of fruit, Metallagher performs.
"You guys like Gallagher?" [Metallagher lead singer Brent] Hedtke asked. "I liked the racist parts," someone yelled back. On a few occasions Hedtke seemed tempted to break into an actual Gallagher joke and then thought better of it, as if the absurd, cynical experience of the actual Gallagher had left no room for anything else.

"I'm using Gallagher's stage hammer tonight," Hedtke announced, "and I don't know how I feel about it."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's kinda right. You don't see water bottles onstage during plays. He's taking a purist's perspective—whatever is onstage should serve the comedy; and if it doesn't, it shouldn't be there.

Oh, come on. A stand-up routine is not a play.

I like this:

"Then of course President Clinton ruined oral sex."

I hadn't heard about this. I had been enjoying it the whole time. Silly me.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2010


I certainly don't think of it as, "Here kid, let me show how you can do that better." Not in comedy at least.

It was a roast. Roasts are all 'fuck you, no, fuck you'. The only galling thing about that segment was the 'fuck you' part seemed to become real.

Really? Onstage? Can you give a couple of other examples?

Yes, this. Still looking for any real examples of this.
posted by cavalier at 7:57 AM on January 5, 2010


I hadn't heard about this. I had been enjoying it the whole time. Silly me.

You must work from home.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:58 AM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


To paraphrase a line from the Metallagher review, "It's not fair that this guy outlived Bill Hicks."
posted by nevercalm at 8:06 AM on January 5, 2010


"It's not fair that this guy outlived George Carlin."

.
posted by Splunge at 8:06 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's rather tragic to be a perfectionist in a medium you're not actually all that good at. Park on a driveway, drive on a parkway indeed.
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


He's right about that part, too: It's a consequence of Internet culture, and not a good one, that people are depicted as inconsistent or worse if they don't stand 100% behind every word they uttered X years ago. If I were a celebrity walking into interviews and the first question was always, "Hey, let's talk about that controversial comment you made five years ago," I imagine it would get pretty tiresome.

Maybe so, but that's show business. The fact that he can't even handle the easy stuff that comedians usually have to learn early on (such as hecklers) tells me a lot about how he's handled his career in general.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2010


And I kind of take responsibility for the mosh pit.

what
posted by everichon at 8:20 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Take Don Rickles, for example.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:27 AM on January 5, 2010


The reason Gallagher's shtick is not funny is because it's ungenuine. You show up wearing a plastic raincoat because you know he's going to smash a watermelon. Every time. It's hackneyed, unoriginal, like phoning it in.

But this, this Onion A/V interview. It's fresh, and entertaining, and hysterical. Sometimes we're laughing at Gallagher, sometimes we're laughing with him, and every time we veer deep into "wtf this guy is a dick" territory he says something completely crazy, but interesting, and we veer back into reading the next sentence. It's a great performance.
posted by Nelson at 8:31 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Take Don Rickles.... Please!

Also: After reading the Gallagher Too controversy, I actually ended up feeling sorry for the guy. I can imagine that feeds a great deal into his bitterness.
posted by absalom at 8:31 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gallagher is an idiot, but smashing things with mallets is pretty great. I think Patton Oswalt should incorporate that into his act.
posted by brundlefly at 8:38 AM on January 5, 2010


If I were a celebrity walking into interviews and the first question was always, "Hey, let's talk about that controversial comment you made five years ago," I imagine it would get pretty tiresome.

Only if you refuse to talk about it or fly into a rage each time it's mentioned - in which case you can hardly blame the interviewer for rushing the machine gun nest. If you put it into context or recant it or make a joke about it or just apologise, it ceases to be promising interview material, because the answer's already public knowledge. And, in this instance, it proved to be a very prescient question, and it got the interviewee talking at length on a theme he appears to feel strongly about.

In a roundabout way, he even gets Gallagher to answer the original question: What makes you heroic and moral in a way the comedians you disapprove of aren't? It's a really good question that ends up getting to the heart of his self-image.

Gallagher's answer, implicitly, is that he works really hard, but doesn't have as much money or fame as them. He seems to see the entertainment industry as a kind of fallen capitalist meritocracy ruined by cronyism and lazy consumers, which is probably at least partly true - his main error is that he views himself as a victim of this state of affairs, when in fact it's almost certainly the only reason he ever enjoyed a career.
posted by RokkitNite at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


AVC: Why has prop comedy been stagnating more and more?

G: I told you: an emphasis on the mediocre. You’re giving the audience what they want, but, that’s, I guess, a reflection on our society. It’s so thin, it’s a veneer, it’s not deep, it doesn’t have a moral direction. ’Cause we really don’t know, we don’t know.


Is he really saying that prop comedy is deep? What the hell?
posted by brundlefly at 8:44 AM on January 5, 2010


The anti-Gallagher seems to be Weird Al Yankovic, who could have been a one-joke guy, certainly could have overplayed his hand, and could have spent a lot of time unhappy his other music or other career work wasn't as well received, and yet he instead has been consistent, informed, updated, and tried to always do the best with his place. I love that guy.
posted by jscott at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2010 [42 favorites]


He's kinda right. You don't see water bottles onstage during plays. He's taking a purist's perspective—whatever is onstage should serve the comedy; and if it doesn't, it shouldn't be there.
...
Oh, come on. A stand-up routine is not a play.


Word; actors in a play usually don't drink water because they're at the service of a particular narrative of plot or character. The only narrative most comedians have is "I am a person and I am going to tell you, another person, some jokes." As for whether or not it serves the comedy, I can't see how it doesn't; you get hydrated, you can speak more easily. It only detracts if your whole schtick is "the raw-throated eternally-thirsty comedian." Other than that, if you want to take a drink, I can't see how that's going to take any audience member out of the moment. Is there anyone sitting there going, "Well, I thought his jokes were funny, but he lost me when he displayed the fact that he's a mostly-liquid carbon-based life form."?

If I were a celebrity walking into interviews and the first question was always, "Hey, let's talk about that controversial comment you made five years ago," I imagine it would get pretty tiresome.
...
Only if you refuse to talk about it or fly into a rage each time it's mentioned - in which case you can hardly blame the interviewer for rushing the machine gun nest. If you put it into context or recant it or make a joke about it or just apologise, it ceases to be promising interview material, because the answer's already public knowledge. And, in this instance, it proved to be a very prescient question, and it got the interviewee talking at length on a theme he appears to feel strongly about.


Indeed. If you don't want to talk about it, your options are either to say before the interview: "Hey, I'll do this interview with you, but only on the condition that you don't bring up that one Oregon interview," or to shrug it off with a, "Ha ha, yeah, that was a weird time in my life. I must've looked like a right lunatic. Sorry, Leno and Letterman! If you're reading this, let's go get a coffee sometime!"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


"We didn’t pick the best politician in the Bush family, which of course was the governor of Florida."

W.

T.

F.?

This was as far as I read. The guy is rightly concerned about the state of his craft, but seriously misinformed about how things work. The guy just wants the kids to get off his lawn, but can't really explain why. Everything he says is one big reductio ad absurdum.

Clinton made oral sex ok for virgins? Clearly the guy never grew up interacting with Catholic schoolgirls in the 70s and 80s. Not everything happens in our lifetime and by famous Americans.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Still looking for any real examples of this.

This comes to mind.
posted by photoslob at 8:59 AM on January 5, 2010


The anti-Gallagher seems to be Weird Al Yankovic, who could have been a one-joke guy, certainly could have overplayed his hand, and could have spent a lot of time unhappy his other music or other career work wasn't as well received, and yet he instead has been consistent, informed, updated, and tried to always do the best with his place. I love that guy.

Absolutely, absolutely. Especially when you consider all the shitty parodies that float around in mp3 form with "Weird Al" listed as the artist. If you wanted to make the crux of your life "Holy FUCK those people are capitalizing on MY NAME and MY IDEAS and it is a TRAVESTY that such MEDIOCRE MATERIAL is being attached to ME and god DAMN it I am FIFTY YEARS OLD and people just think of me as a SILLY MAN when I am REALLY INSIGHTFUL", then you could certainly do that, and it wouldn't be difficult to keep repeating inside your own head, "I AM RIGHT I AM RIGHT I AM RIGHT". Instead, Yankovic's website FAQ says:

I've found some songs on the Internet that are supposedly by Al, but I've never heard them on any of his albums. What the hey?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of song parodies floating around the Internet being attributed to Al which are in fact done by somebody else. "Star Wars Cantina," "Windows 95 Sucks," "Living La Vida Yoda," "Combo No. 5," "What If God Smoked Cannabis," "He Got The Wrong Foot Amputated" (the list goes on and on... some of the titles are unprintable in a family-friendly web site) - these songs are NOT by Al. If you want to verify whether or not a song is actually by Al, check the Catalog page.


...and that's it. What could be the source of balled-fist frustration is instead quickly and deftly brushed off, and then dude moves the hell on with his other pursuits. Weird Al is a classy, wonderful person.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Read some of the threads here, and they were pretty derisive, so I'm going to talk-up this guy.

Gallagher is pretty freakin' hysterical. When I was growing up, I used to listen to a cassette of his act and loved it. I recently discovered the cassette and it still cracks me up. The whole sledgehammer shtick is tired, but his jokes and observational humor were brilliant.
posted by sswiller at 9:10 AM on January 5, 2010


Gallagher and Carrot Top should team up in my nightmares.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:14 AM on January 5, 2010


There's so much in the "seems like a pretty angry guy" interview that I would like to respond to. I would almost like to respond to every single sentence that he says; so much of what he says is shockingly absurd. But I will restrict myself to responding to one thing:
We just had a real confusing situation in football. One player kills somebody and somehow isn’t punished as much as a quarterback who kills a dog. Dogs are given to the pound, and the pound kills them. So if, I forget his name, if [Michael Vick] had worked for the pound, he wouldn’t have been put in jail.
If Michael Vick had worked for the pound, and was found to have run a dog fighting ring, I believe that he would have been put in jail.

I agree with Gallagher that this is apparently "real confusing" to him.
posted by Flunkie at 9:24 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's one of the longest "get off my lawn" rants I've ever read.

Oh, and water onstage for a standup act, is put there for the same reason guests and hosts on chat shows have mugs of water to sip. They serve as enforced break times, a "musical rest" if you will, either to allow the audience to laugh a bit longer, to force a laugh on a punchline which requires a bit of "simmer" to take hold, or (in the case of chat shows) to force the guest to talk a bit longer or to let the host know that you're not going to answer that question. That many comedians don't actually USE their water in that manner simply means they are unartful.

(Oh, and some comedians use their water as a chance to go check on the crib sheet they have taped to the stool. That's more common than you think.)
posted by hippybear at 9:25 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I don't know any comedian who likes hecklers. I mean, they're there, it happens, you have to deal with it, but it's a pretty rude thing to do.

I also think that maybe he's complaining that hey, he's famous, he's been doing this forever, by this point most comedians aren't being heckled. Have you ever seen a heckler at a HBO special? By the time you're that famous, people are buying tickets, most of them aren't yelling out in the middle of your set.
posted by Comrade_robot at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was waiting for someone to mention Carrot Top. Can't remember where or even how long ago I saw this, but there's someone out there who's vying for the title--if you want to call it that--of The World's Greatest Carrot Top Fan. Here's what she does: she has someone take a picture of her with Carrot Top, has the resulting photo made into a T-shirt, and then wears it the next time she meets Carrot Top and has a photo taken with him, and has that photo turned into a T-shirt, et cetera and so on, until the end result is her with Carrot Top (who looks more and more like a badly-put-together drag queen as the years wear on, BTW) receding into infinity--a nice working definition of hell IMO.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:31 AM on January 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


You know, George Burns performed smoking a cigar, and never needed a drink of water on a stool. But now this has become a tradition in America. They more or less have a stool ready for you and ask, “What water ya want?” To me, as a visual artist, everything that’s in the picture should have meaning—what does a stool and a bottle of water mean?

How on earth is a cigar more professional than a bottle of water? What does a cigar mean?
posted by brundlefly at 9:34 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


You people, this is GALLAGHER. He smashes WATERMELONS. With a SLEDGEHAMMER. He produces NOTHING. He inspired CARROT TOP. We are under NO OBLIGATION to take him seriously.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


To be fair to Burns, that cigar was very much a prop for his eponymous character. He used the cigar to punctuate, to embellish and to add detail to a persona. Gallagher's a tragic hack, but he's somewhat right about the water.
posted by klangklangston at 9:43 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


They don’t care how they stand, what they wear. I can tell you right now: There are at least five comedy specials on Comedy Central where the comedian wears a dark color and stands in front of a dark curtain. Now how fucking stupid is that? Now your hands and your face are floating in blackness. And then there’s an art director who’s given credit for the show and doesn’t know enough to say the figure should stand out against the background? Hello? It’s television!
posted by h0p3y at 9:45 AM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


What does a cigar mean?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
posted by Servo5678 at 9:48 AM on January 5, 2010


klangklangston: "To be fair to Burns, that cigar was very much a prop for his eponymous character. He used the cigar to punctuate, to embellish and to add detail to a persona."

Very true. Good point.
posted by brundlefly at 9:49 AM on January 5, 2010


with my mouth hanging open in dumbstruckitude

My new favourite phrase.
posted by Zinger at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2010


I also think that maybe he's complaining that hey, he's famous, he's been doing this forever, by this point most comedians aren't being heckled. Have you ever seen a heckler at a HBO special? By the time you're that famous, people are buying tickets, most of them aren't yelling out in the middle of your set.

Yeah, but you got to get over it. It does you no good to openly complain as an entertainer. His interviews of late are largely about how much he feels he got the shaft. Maybe so, but that's not funny, and it smacks of bitterness and desperation. No matter how high you get and how low you go, you can still be professional. I imagine his career might have gone differently if his attitude were different (e.g., don't shit in your own bed, in other words, don't slam your colleagues in interviews). but at the very least, he might be happier.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The anti-Gallagher seems to be Weird Al Yankovic, who could have been a one-joke guy, certainly could have overplayed his hand, and could have spent a lot of time unhappy his other music or other career work wasn't as well received, and yet he instead has been consistent, informed, updated, and tried to always do the best with his place. I love that guy.
In the spirit of this, I will now link to my favorite recent Weird Al video.
posted by Flunkie at 10:02 AM on January 5, 2010


I went looking for my favorite Gallagher bit because I wanted to prove a point about his act not being all watermelon smashing.

I really liked Gallagher when I was a kid. I blame my father. One night he went out to bring home a couple of pizzas and a video so we could have a nice family evening. This was back when you had to take whatever there was if you wanted to rent a video on a Friday night while you were waiting for your pizza. That fateful night Gallagher was all there was, so Dad brought it home.

My 8th grade self was extremely amused by the "Spelling Bit" as I came to think of it. I actually went on to choose other Gallagher specials on purpose when I was allowed to pick videos over the next couple of years. Indeed, I have always thought of Gallagher fondly, though I must admit I haven't watched anything from him in almost twenty years.

After having read the linked interview I have reevaluated my opinion. I still have fond memories, if only because of the time I shared with my family. As a kid, I thought of Gallagher as witty and socially relevant, and his early specials were both. Yet I and much of the rest of the country have apparently left him behind while he wasn't watching. He claims to have been a trendsetter, and he's right. He originated the trend that in the years since have given us Pauly Shore, Carrot Top, Tom Green, and Jamie Kennedy.

All of which is to say that a comedian who lives by the shtick, dies by the shtick.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


So what am I missing? What does the watermelon represent, metaphorically?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


But a lot of what he says is right. Especially about comedy. Interrupting that kid in the August 2008 clip? The kid had lost the audience, and Gallagher was right about how to fix it. He was trying to show the kid something.
Gallagher's take on this was quite different:
"I was actually using those comics as props. Too bad. That’s what I decided to do. I don’t have to be a nice guy if the situation and the people that hired me are not nice in one way or another to me. I pretended to be helping them to be better comedians because I felt that was some kind of a persona that I could take."
posted by Flunkie at 10:15 AM on January 5, 2010


Gallagher is kind of a dick-bag, methinks.
posted by Mister_A at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2010


I know ITS KEWL AND TRENDY TO MOCK GALAGER AMIRITE but the Sledge-O-Matic bit has never been just about smashing fruit. It's a parody of the "Veg-O-Matic" commercials, which were getting heavy airplay at the time, and an exaggerated commentary on useless products and consumer culture. Sure, it's not the deepest of pieces, but it's not as simple as HAY GUIZE I HIT FOOD LOL either.
posted by scrowdid at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


He seems to have a little Dolph Lundgren in him. He graduated from USF with a chemical engineering degree and... went straight into show business as a prop comic.

Just a thought here – if Tom Hanks’ success is breaking your balls and you’re pissed because you have to rent a condo – maybe the day job (as one of the highest paying degrees for the first employment with midgrade chemical engineers making between $67K and $105K) would have, y’know, worked for you. Maybe get you a house or something.
But hey, follow the dream. Which was, what? Smashing watermelons. On stage. In front of people who were given free tickets. Who heckle you.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


>[re: heckling] you got to get over it. It does you no good to openly complain as an entertainer.

Indeed. Most comedians will have at least one or two comebacks to hecklers, and I've even seen a list somewhere (David Letterman's was "I remember my first beer"; Roseanne's was "Suck my dick"). I think that the beginning of the end for Andrew Dice Clay happened when he appeared on SNL; even though he knew ahead of time that a lot of people were angry at the idea of him hosting (Sinead O'Connor and cast member Nora Dunn boycotted the show), when he was heckled during his opening monologue, he whined. Whined. It's one of the episodes that Lorne Michaels said he'd never re-run, although I don't know if he's held to that promise.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:46 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He should update the Sledge-O-Matic bit to parody the Slap-Chop.

Like ob1quixote, I loved Gallagher when I was a kid, because I got to watch him with my parents and it felt vaguely "grown-up." I thought his wordplay (as in the linked bit) was clever, as I did when he did something about the negative of "pro" being "con" so thus the opposite of "progress" must be "congress."

I will say that despite being a crazy dick, he obviously has SOME degree of talent. He had a good stage presence, good voice, good delivery. His work was appropriate for its time. Hell, I even think he's sort of funny in that clip where he mocks the bad comedian opening for him. But, he never changed. My theory is that he got high off the audience appreciation of the Sledge-O-Matic and relied on that as his calling card. Then, he becomes the fodder of jokes and only a gimmicky performer, watched for nostalgia by older fans and drunks who want to see shit get squished. When his career started going down the shitter, he got bitter, so now he's a bitter ass who smashes things and tells bad jokes from the 80s. And he wonders why he doesn't have a career?

I mean, in the interview, when he's not going off on crazy tangents, he makes some good points. You DO have to build up to stuff, so throwing out all your "power" words in the first joke is a mistake. And in the video, he makes a good point to the comedian -- get the audience laughing and then use the capital you've built up to tell longer stories. But... his material sucks balls, and he's too pissed about not being relevant anymore to update it and use his obvious knowledge of the comedic craft to actually do anything funny.

That said, if he comes to my town, I will TOTALLY go see him to satisfy my curious mix of childhood nostalgia and morbid fascination with human trainwrecks.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:46 AM on January 5, 2010


Angry prop comic rants about comedians lack of empathy, disregard for minimalist stage presence.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:48 AM on January 5, 2010


Gallagher's take on this was quite different:

I could take that quote from Gallagher on the topic to sound like, "Well, it *was* a bit of a dick move, I basically was taking the opening acts as props... but hey, I was treated badly myself".
posted by scrowdid at 10:59 AM on January 5, 2010


scrowdid, first of all, he was (according to himself) treated badly by the people who booked him for the gig, not by the poor sap he took it out on.

But anyway, my point was this: The person I was responding to said that Gallagher was "trying to show the kid something", while Gallagher himself says that he "pretended to be helping them to be better comedians". There's a large difference.
posted by Flunkie at 11:06 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never knew a thing about Gallagher, didn't recognize the name when it came up here, but I've looked at the various videos put up here, and, while I think the guy's deluding himself, I feel sympathetic for what he's tried to do and where he's gone. That initial interview felt a lot like a recurring nightmare I have as an artist.

Here's somebody who very obviously cares about the craft. This isn't a lazy has-been per se. He feels very strongly about comedy, and feels that other, more successful people aren't doing the jobs they ought to be. In his mind he's a superb comedian bar none, and what life has shown him is that being the best doesn't necessarily mean you get rewarded for it.

Of course, he's not the best. The jokes I heard him tell via all these links were barely jokes in the normal sense. The punchlines were watered down to the point of nonexistence. Even ob1quixote's video came across like George Carlin without a punchline. It's faintly clever but but much beyond that. If he'd posted that entire routine as a comment on Metafilter, it'd be looked over for shorter, smarter quips. (Is it bad that I judge offline humor by how many favorites I think it'd deserve?)

Perhaps he's spent a lifetime honing the craft of that limited, lame sort of joke, basked in the attention he's received from people that like it, and convinced himself that what he does is comedy, comedy in full, and that the only sort of humor is the sort he practices. He's wrong, of course, but does he know he's wrong? If he looks at every other working comedian and sees mediocrity, that implies that what he's looking for is insanely limited. But at least he's looking for something.

I can kind of sympathize with that, because it happens to everybody that tries making anything. It reminds me of writers in my high school literary mag, who got so set in their styles, so determined to perfect a certain type of unpleasant poem, that they reacted violently to any suggestion that they should attempt something more. I do it too. It's hard to step back from what you've already been praised for, figure out for yourself what you're not doing, and push towards goals you're not certain you'll be rewarded for reaching.

When you look through George Carlin's career, you see a certain path that culminated in his final performance. There are elements of that final show in his earliest stand-up, but they're not the focus of his performance and they're not the best things going on. As he matured, he added and removed bits and pieces, constantly striving to create comedy he hadn't created before. The result is that you can listen to virtually anything he's ever done and find something hilarious. He pushed himself relentlessly and his catalogue is taut, evertense.

It's rare to find a comedian so determined not to repeat himself. Almost everybody hits a point where they're satisfied with what they've become and stop growing. Gallagher just seemes to have hit that much earlier than everybody else, and he still hasn't realized he's done it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh my.

I couldn't get past the very first question. Seriously. When he started rambling on about Katie Couric, I had to stop. Because really, the last thing I want to do is read what Gallagher thinks about Katie Couric.
posted by muddgirl at 11:11 AM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's got a few good points there amongst the raving.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:13 AM on January 5, 2010


Gallagher's answer, implicitly, is that he works really hard, but doesn't have as much money or fame as them.

well, he could have ended up at a day job for 30 years - he doesn't seem very grateful for the privilege of having made a living as an entertainer for decades
posted by pyramid termite at 11:22 AM on January 5, 2010


Not that I wasn't a big Gallagher fan when I was 12 and obsessed with television and TV commercials. Because I was.
posted by muddgirl at 11:28 AM on January 5, 2010


I think he wants to be a lawyer. He'd still get to riff on word interpretation, have crazy ideas, plenty of access to 'props' (aka evidence), and the Judge would keep the audience in line and respectful.

Plus it can pay well.
posted by mazola at 11:30 AM on January 5, 2010


In case anyone was wondering, Andrew Dice Clay is still performing. He recently performed at a nearby casino (tickets were free).

I was startled to hear it. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and looked up some of his more recent stuff on YouTube.

My hopes for a New Improved With-The-Benefit-Of-Years Diceman were quickly dashed. In the most recent clip I could find, he was wearing that ridiculous motorcycle jacket, and led off with "Hickory dickory dock..."
posted by ErikaB at 11:39 AM on January 5, 2010


he went off into really unexpected intellectual tangents, like interpolating things from history and books he was reading. He never once came across as a "funny guy," but takes things incredibly seriously.

In my experience, anybody who makes a significant dent in terms of cultural recognition, no matter how inane their shtick is, is generally a lot smarter than they are given credit for.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:40 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nobody's brought up the repeated references to Gallagher in MST3K? Apparently the reason why he was slammed over and over again in that show was because he was a dick to Joel Hodgson at a comedy club. He made fun of Joel's props (keep in mind that Joel's prop act got him on the Saturday Night Live episode with Terri Garr), which puts all of his ranting about "mediocrity" in perspective. The man is a hack's hack; his family sided with his brother in a case where he was actually in the right; and despite the fact that he was once the biggest stand-up comedian of the 1980's, he has handled his money so poorly that he is reduced to renting a condo. Frankly, I'm happy to watch him drown in his own bile.

rhythim> A year or two ago, he did a set at the local comedy club here. One of the morning radio shows had him in studio the morning before the show, and he steadfastly refused to talk about his act, the history of his act, or indeed do anything that remotely approximated comedy during the interview, which was of course the entire reason he was booked. He was a complete dick who got the hook after about 5 minutes.

rhythim> I'd be shocked if Zanies did much business that night.

One of those things that I didn't realize until it was pointed out to me (but which makes perfect sense once it is): literally no one comes to a stand-up show because of a morning radio show interview, because people who commute during those early hours are usually too tired to come to a late night show, and because the segments don't give people enough notice.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:43 AM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


with my mouth hanging open in dumbstruckitude

Good. Needs a couple umlauts though.
posted by Naberius at 11:45 AM on January 5, 2010


David Letterman's was "I remember my first beer"

No, that was Steve Martin.
posted by grubi at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's interesting to think about the word "has-been" with respect to stand-up comics. Comedians occupy a much smaller portion of the public eye than musicians and actors. With the exception of a handful of true legends, they're all destined to be has-beens.

Look at the listings for your local two-drink-minimum comedy club. In addition to a few young locals, you'll see a bunch of people you remember seeing on TV in the 80s and 90s. They did a bit on Letterman, they did a Comedy Central special, they did another Comedy Central special, they played a bit part in a movie, and then there was nothing left for them to do. So they go back to doing what they did before they got on Letterman.

I think most comedians know this - many of them make jokes about it. I hope they save a little money while they're at it.

Have you ever seen a heckler at a HBO special? By the time you're that famous, people are buying tickets, most of them aren't yelling out in the middle of your set.

Yes, but you can't sell fifty-dollar tickets for very long. You'll come back to the small clubs, and the hecklers will be right where you left them.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hm. I was just checking Metafilter before I called Gallagher. (He's on my cell phone favorites, right below my parents.) This will probably be a long post.

Filthy Light Thief, that clip you saw on TV was from my documentary, "History of the Joke with Lewis Black." (Penn and Teller were in it.) It was originally called "The Greatest Joke Ever Told," but the title was changed a few weeks before broadcast. (Don't get me started.)

Of the 100 or so comedians we contacted, Gallagher was the first to respond, and among the most accommodating. (He was on my Top 10 list, along with Black and Chris Elliott.) When you contact Gallagher for a press appearance, you're given a smash-able shopping list: 4 jars of Jiff peanut butter; a whole watermelon; diapers; Prell shampoo; you get the idea. I dutifully sent my minions shopping, hired a van to carry the stuff in, outfitted the crew of 20 in Hazmat suits and yellow construction helmets, and saddled up on a glorious and hot autumn day in L.A. We caravanned out to Gallagher's redoubt in Calabasas, which is just over the hills from Malibu. (Contrary to what was mentioned in a post above, the guy has handled his money very well.) Gallagher's house is a Spanish-style hacienda that was probably once pretty swanky; now it looks like something out of a M.A.S.H. episode, with a metal security gate that appears to have been smashed in by a tank, and decades of Gallagher props everywhere, from a foam-rubber steamroller to giant bowling pins. All of my guys were afraid to climb the long, steep driveway, for fear of what lay ahead. So, being the leader, I hiked up the hill with my cameraman, a 50-something recent cancer survivor who looks like a portly Van Gogh. When we puffed to the top of the hill, there was Gallagher. And the minute he saw us, he started performing. He had already bought all the foodstuffs on his list; he had prepared a 3-hour routine just for us (which was reduced to about 90 seconds of screen time). And he was funny. Sometimes ha-ha funny, but mostly "I can't believe this is happening" funny.

So here's the point: Gallagher is a professional. And being a professional comedian is a hard, weird job that breaks people in interesting ways -- more interesting, to me at least, than the way other vocations and life circumstances break people. He's a guy who thinks deeply about things whose job is to provide mindless entertainment. He's a Kafkaesque character -- or maybe a Serlingesque one.

I spent over a year of my life sweating blood and neglecting my family to get "History of the Joke" made; I had envisioned it as a definitive, cast-of-thousands documentary about comedians and the real hard work that goes into telling a simple joke -- a more accessible (and perhaps even more entertaining) version of "The Aristocrats," which I loved. "Joke" came close, even if the forces of mediocrity, mendacity, garden-variety stupidity and borderline evil that is the television industry took big fat bites out of it (and out of me) along the way.

But the greatest thing that came out of it was, for me, an appreciation of just how hard it is to be a standup comedian, full-time. (As opposed to a sit-down talk-show host, movie writer, script consultant, animation voice, and/or "humorist.") It's not a normal job. And it's doubly not normal if you are normal -- meaning, you're an adult with kids and a brain that thinks about current events, politics, morality, and your own mortality. This is the kind of man Gallagher is... or at least that's how he started out.

To age gracefully in standup -- meaning, to work steadily into your golden years -- comedians must do one of two things: Change their act to reflect the times, or hit on a schtick that works, and stick with it no matter what. (Or they can just die young, their best jokes frozen in amber with the headlines of the day.) George Carlin is an example of the former. He was in "History of Joke," too, and in addition to being a graceful, sweet, and generous guy, he was the only old dude I knew with an iPhone, who knew how to use it. His anti-establishment rants gave way to metaphysical musings that were just as radical and more fitting to the times; to suggest that there was no god in the time of Bush -- and in the months before his own death -- was just as thought-provoking, and more suited to his and our times, than saying fuck-shit-piss, et al, on TV.

Gallagher, however, is an example of the latter. He found what worked in his act, and over the years he stripped away everything that didn't. He knows what pushes people's buttons; he knows what will fill the seats. Smashing. Everyone comes for the smashing.

If you go back and watch Gallagher's TV specials from the 70s and 80s, you'll see that they were filled with topical and political humor, as his shows are today. It's just that nobody much cared. They were there for the smashing, the Giant Couch, and the goopy insults -- and Gallagher gave the audience what they wanted. Problem is, of course, that over the years Gallagher's core audience has shrunk, and moved toward the middle of the country. So when he performs at the West Buttfuck Community Theater or Kap'n Kurt's Krab Shack, full of drunken yahoos on spring break, the seats are always filled. Which suits Gallagher just fine. It's a choice, and one he made a long time ago.

When Gallagher rails against his contemporaries (Letterman, Leno) and their success, he's really complaining about their audiences. The audience for topical political humor has grown steadily over the decades, and those comedians rode the wave, tacking masterfully here and there to keep on its leading edge. The audience for food-smashing and mild right-wing rants has been steady, solid, and reliable; but it's shrinking.

And so is Gallagher. But he's fighting mortality with everything he's got. And he's doing it, if not with class, then with a kind of alternately stirring and heartbreaking honesty that is hard for some folks to understand. He means everything he says; and it's only when we try to pick out the golden kernels of folksy brilliance from the sludge of shut-up-grampa-you're-embarrassing-me logorrhea that we get what Gallagher is all about.

The stuff I find most fascinating is Gallagher's interaction with his audience -- e..g, his genuine desire to set kids on the straight and narrow, his put-downs of hecklers, and his seemingly Job-like ability to endure physical and psychic humiliations that would cow or creep out most open-mike punters -- which IMO has nothing to do with comedy, and has everything to do with being a 63-year old guy with several ex-wives, grown children, and a heart attack under his belt who can't stop working, and is terrified of what happens when he does.

I've been talking to Gallagher for the past 2 years, trying to figure out how to convey his combination of arrogance, brilliance, flat-earth conservatism and balls-out fuck-y'all capital-A American freethinking in a filmic way, and have yet to crack that nut. I have been in every studio building in Los Angeles and environs, trying to get a little cash to show the people what I know. But most everyone declares that he's a bitter old crank with a moldy act who confuses and offends people. To which I say, sure -- but he's entertaining as fuck. And isn't that the point?
posted by turducken at 1:37 PM on January 5, 2010 [300 favorites]


^^Sidebar please^^
posted by billysumday at 1:43 PM on January 5, 2010


^^seconded^^
posted by brundlefly at 1:47 PM on January 5, 2010


Will do, today's sidebar is about the G-spot, tomorrow's will be about Gallagher.
posted by jessamyn at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2010


The Gallagher Spot.
posted by stenseng at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


jessamyn: "Will do, today's sidebar is about the G-spot, tomorrow's will be about Gallagher."

That's appropriate. They were both discovered in the 80s.
posted by brundlefly at 2:00 PM on January 5, 2010


Goddamnit turducken. You're delicious and informative and now, Netflix wants me to see smashing videos.
I had no idea there was a 2 hour documentary with Lewis Black on comedic aesthetics. Thank you for making it so.
posted by now i'm piste at 2:09 PM on January 5, 2010


Uh oh, turducken. Now he's piste.
posted by billysumday at 2:13 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


turducken rules. I would go see a Gallagher docu-bio-drama-pic in a fucking HEARTBEAT.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2010


“In case anyone was wondering, Andrew Dice Clay is still performing. He recently performed at a nearby casino (tickets were free).”

I challenge anyone to say “Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay” with a straight face to any other person.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:44 PM on January 5, 2010


but he's entertaining as fuck. And isn't that the point?

But is he, really, though? Laughing at and laughing with are not identical acts, and while this thread and the glimpse into his smug misery has been fascinating, I'm not convinced there's much more blood to wring from this stone. What's compelling here is not comedy but tragedy, and that's the kind of story that won't get the same kind of traction outside the schadenfreude circular firing squad of LOLTHEOTHER snarkfilter.
posted by kaspen at 2:51 PM on January 5, 2010


I think THEOTHER is fucking hilarious and I'll thank you not to ridicule my predilections.

Oh

wait hold on
posted by everichon at 3:09 PM on January 5, 2010


Actually who am I kidding, the whole world loves to play Who's America's Saddest Fuck?, and I'm sure a small industry could be sustained mining this guy for material.

Not to malign your post or motives turducken, that was an incredibly insightful comment I'm glad to have read, and while I have not seen your film, it sounds laudable in its ambitions and it is evident you put a lot of effort into producing valuable work. I'm simply responding out of the friction between pity and the impulse to ridicule, but if you could find a way to capture any fraction of the compelling interest of this thread on film, I'd be first in line to buy a ticket.
posted by kaspen at 3:20 PM on January 5, 2010


If I may continue this small-type digression to amend and apologize, re-reading turducken's comment I see how well he grasps the squeamish paradoxical bind at the core of Gallagher that I think is what sets us all off and is making me cringe: "a hard, weird job that breaks people in interesting ways", "Kafkaesque", "a 63-year old guy with several ex-wives, grown children, and a heart attack under his belt who can't stop working, and is terrified of what happens when he does." turducken, I first read your comment being too primed by what felt like a growing deluge of point-and-laugh. I'm sorry if my immediate response was to unfairly assume that your proposal was for further unreflective mockery -- you do grasp the pathos that makes his excesses extra outrageous. He is an exemplary and somehow epic character, and if you or anyone could find a way to portray his plight in a redemptive or merely sympathetic fashion, not only would it be a project of art of value to the culture as a whole, but perhaps even to Gallagher himself, who is maybe still not so old and inflicted with his bitternesses as to be far-gone.
posted by kaspen at 3:42 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just thought Gallagher was popular in the 80s because everybody was on cocaine.
posted by Rangeboy at 4:02 PM on January 5, 2010


I bet he goes apeshit when he sees Howie Mandel on TV
posted by Hammond Rye at 4:30 PM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rough crowd.
posted by digsrus at 4:34 PM on January 5, 2010


If you search for "History of the Joke" in Netflix, it returns "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."
I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.
posted by entropicamericana at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


You know, while reading turducken's comment, I tried really hard to care about Gallagher. Really, really hard.

I mean, okay, great, now he's been elevated to Krusty The Klown status in my head. Still not a very high bar.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:45 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Afroblanco: His "Seven Words You Can't Say On TV" routine is totally different from George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On TV" routine.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:00 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gallagher Agonistes. What an unexpectedly great thread!

jessamyn: I think this needs to be the pull-quote for turducken's sidebarred comment:

Gallagher's on my cell phone favorites, right below my parents.


Because who the hell else on the planet can make this statement?

I too was a fan of Gallagher as a kid -- I watched a lot of stand-up comedy videos and specials, probably even more than cartoons. They were from his dippy rainbow-suspendered phase, and I liked him because he kind of reminded me of Shel Silverstein. I even remember cringing along with his poem recited from the point of view of a river -- while he stood with a blue-screen cloak on his body and flowing water was projected over it. Then he got older and meaner. Preteen girls don't always have the best perception of misogyny in others, but even I could tell he had issues with women.

I was done with him when I heard about Joel Hodgson. Who could be mean to the sleepy-eyed guy? Who?!
posted by Countess Elena at 5:23 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


My hat's off to you all. Metafilter is so good, it can even make a thread about Gallagher interesting.
posted by belvidere at 6:49 PM on January 5, 2010


Because who the hell else on the planet can make this statement?

Gallagher's brother?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


entropicamericana: If you search for "History of the Joke" in Netflix, it returns "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."
I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.


Apparently you weren't joking.

Is it actually there, though? Sometimes search on Netflix is stupid.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:59 PM on January 5, 2010


After reading turducken's comment, I can safely say that I'd love to see his documentary on Gallagher, but still don't want to see Gallagher's act.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:58 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great post, and an especially nice comment by turducken. In fact, after reading about turducken's documentary and interview with Gallagher, I thought that maybe I'd misjudged the guy, and that perhaps he had some redeeming qualities, some skill, some talent, something, anything.

So, I went back and looked at the links to the YouTube videos. I watched them all. Well, I started watching them all, but I couldn't finish any of them.

With all due respect to turducken, Gallagher's comedy sucks. I mean, the guy doesn't have an act. He's not funny. At all.

Jumping on a giant couch? What is that? I could do that. In fact, I did that when I was five. And smashing things? With a sledgehammer? Why is that funny, after the fifth time? There's a YT video of him doing that at a show in 2008, and it's pathetic. He's practically shuffling around the stage, talking away from the mike (the audio comes in and out), just going through the motions. I watched a clip of him on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and it wasn't funny at all. There's another show from the 80's, also not funny. I went through about seven videos, and they all suck. Terribly. I'm embarrassed even for having lived in the same time period as him.

So what gives? turducken says (correctly, I believe) that "Gallagher gave the audience what they wanted", and perhaps that's the problem. Do you remember that great con artist scene in Huck Finn? Here's the description (from the Gutenberg Project's copy of Huck Finn):

WELL, all day him and the king was hard at it, rigging up a stage and a curtain and a row of candles for footlights; and that night the house was jam full of men in no time. When the place couldn't hold no more, the duke he quit tending door and went around the back way and come on to the stage and stood up before the curtain and made a little speech, and praised up this tragedy, and said it was the most thrillingest one that ever was; and so he went on a-bragging about the tragedy, and about Edmund Kean the Elder, which was to play the main principal part in it; and at last when he'd got everybody's expectations up high enough, he rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the king come a-prancing out on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over, ring-streaked-and-striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a rainbow. And—but never mind the rest of his outfit; it was just wild, but it was awful funny. The people most killed themselves laughing; and when the king got done capering and capered off behind the scenes, they roared and clapped and stormed and haw-hawed till he come back and done it over again, and after that they made him do it another time. Well, it would make a cow laugh to see the shines that old idiot cut.

If you remember, the next day everyone gets their friends to come back and laugh again, and the third day, when the audience is ready to pelt the stage with rotten fruit, the con artists (and Huck Finn) skip town.

But Gallagher went back on that stage, and kept going back. It's not surprising that people are throwing things at him.

I'm willing to see turducken's documentary, and I'm curious to see how Gallagher does. But seriously, am I the only one who actually clicked through the YouTube links? Because they are uniformly terrible.
posted by math at 9:16 PM on January 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can only suggest, math, that either 1) you are not now and never were the target audience for Gallagher's comedy stylings, or 2) you are viewing 25-year-old routines through a 2010 lens, which tends to mute all but the real cream of comedy from the past. Either way, he was a HUGE comic back in the day, and there was a time when he was regarded as fresh, new, and insightful.
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM on January 5, 2010


hippybear> 1) you are not now and never were the target audience for Gallagher's comedy stylings, or 2) you are viewing 25-year-old routines through a 2010 lens, which tends to mute all but the real cream of comedy from the past.

Gallagher wasn't a B-lister back then, he was huge. His target audience was the mainstream; I can't speak for math, but back then my comedy tastes weren't particularly refined. And I still didn't like him. As for the age of his stuff, I actually can't think of any 80's comedian that I liked then but don't like now.

It's good that Gallagher managed to be nice to turducken and his film crew when he saw an opportunity to get some screentime, but he's not funny now, he was an asshole back then, and that A.V. Club interview shows that he's angry and embittered about the fact that he hasn't managed to grow as a comedian in the intervening years.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 10:24 PM on January 5, 2010


I'm certainly not defending the content of Gallagher's act. Funny is in the eye (or gut) of the beholder. Whether Gallagher is (or was) funny on stage is beside the point; the fact that he's still grinding away up there every night is. That he can be simultaneously a generous, wise, and self-effacing guy and also a dickish, solipsistic bigot just means he's human -- and to me, at least, more interesting for it.
posted by turducken at 11:55 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Comedy has evolved in recent years, and Gallagher (as turducken rightly pointed out) has stayed on the same train and expected everyone to end up at the same destination.

Patton Oswalt said on his masterful 333 album that "comedy died in the early 90s and thank god". There was such a demand for anyone who was willing to go onstage that amateur comics with barely 2 minutes of material were getting 20-30 minute sets on their 2nd and 3rd time onstage. Comedy clubs were a golden goose at the time - just put "comedy" up on the billboard and count the money.

Like any over-saturated industry, it up and ate itself and all that was left were the up-and-comers and the comedy clubs who were in business for the love of the craft - not the love of the checkbook. Thankfully, we had greats like Carlin, Pryor, Cosby, Hicks and newcomers like Chris Rock, Denis Leary (say what you will, he reinvigorated the form for the MTV generation) that were keeping the pulse going while the next generation was struggling through the industry and learning the craft as they went. Many of those comics became known as "alt-comedy", oddly enough.

We're at a time now where comedy has many facets and it divides people the same way movies and music do. Some people will buy any album Nickelback shits out and hold it as a shining example of a thing done right, while others won't get out of bed for anything less than an unreleased double-live Pink Floyd album and turn their nose up at that first group.

I think it's fascinating to see comedy really being respected as a genuine and controversial art form. It's unfortunate for Gallagher that he doesn't believe enough in himself to let his colors shine through. The character-based comedy of the past doesn't work so well these days - audiences want to see more emotion, more raw output. Giving them a polished character feels manufactured and (rightfully) scripted. This also explains water bottles and other drinks -- it brings humanity and not just some pull-the-strings-and-let-it-go act.

If Gallagher wanted to really start making headlines, he could drop the hammer and just rant away like he did in that interview. Even if people hated what he said - they'd appreciate the raw feed. Listen to Doug Stanhope if you think I'm making that up. Stanhope's most recent album ends with him publicly declaring that his greatest joy is in making people feel worse upon leaving his shows than when they arrived - and he revels in victory that a fan recently killed himself after one of his shows.

Even Dane Cook's most recent album/DVD speaks to this - he filmed it at the Laugh Factory, not a giant arena. He talks about his parents dying, ex-girlfriends, personal and professional struggles, etc. Even people who hated him before have said they have a newfound respect for him because "he dropped the act".

Personally, I'd be all about watching Gallagher drop the act and just spit fire for awhile - and I say this having seen him perform back in '94 at a coliseum in Phoenix and I was none-too-impressed.

So, turducken, make THAT your documentary. Gallagher drops the act and goes back to real comedy clubs to do real comedy (kinda like Seinfeld's documentary "Comedian"). I could even recommend/put him in-touch with a few clubs here in LA that he could try out with a good crowd that wouldn't attract too much media attention while he works it out.
posted by revmitcz at 2:15 AM on January 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


you are viewing 25-year-old routines through a 2010 lens

With all due respect: Baloney. Gallagher was the anti-funny when he was popular. I remember watching his act as a teenager and being embarrassed, and well, a little irritated that people thought it was just great. Christ, the place I grew in was filled with Gallaghers. There's a couple in every bar, and I think every family is required to have at least one. He's the uncle that has to tell you the joke about Mexicans he just heard in the bar, and then laugh really loud with an empty, glassy-eyed blankness after he tells it. I'm feeling itchy and crawly with shame just thinking I shared a culture with many of these turds, and it's not even my fault. Honest.
posted by belvidere at 2:36 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


With all due respect to turducken, Gallagher's comedy sucks. I mean, the guy doesn't have an act. He's not funny. At all.

You may not like Gallagher's comedy, and that's fine, but that's not the same as saying that he's a bad comic -- anybody who thinks he's bad has never been to an open mike.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:36 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is no joke when I tell you I encountered Gallagher selling stuff from his garage out of the back of his hatchback in an Orange County, CA business park at lunchtime. He gave us a T-Shirt and made us promise that we would go to his show that night. To make absolutely sure, he made me write down my name and cell phone number on a small piece of cardboard because he wanted to remind me later.

Not only did he call me again that night (from his home number - I called back again later to verify that I actually had Gallagher's home number) he asked me to tell all my friends.

I didn't go. And just ended up feeling really bad for him. I mean the stuff he was selling out of his garage made me question his sanity. Weird stuff.
posted by namewithhe1d at 6:07 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


namewithhe1d: how long ago was this, uh, encounter?
posted by billysumday at 6:15 AM on January 6, 2010


2006. I even took pictures with him in the parking lot while I held my Daphne's pita and a diet coke.
posted by namewithhe1d at 6:20 AM on January 6, 2010


If Gallagher wanted to really start making headlines, he could drop the hammer and just rant away like he did in that interview. Even if people hated what he said - they'd appreciate the raw feed. Listen to Doug Stanhope if you think I'm making that up.
I think you're confusing the fact that some people can make that entertaining with the idea that Gallagher could make that entertaining.

Dropping the hammer and ranting away is exactly what Gallagher did here. To my ear, that was not entertaining; maybe it could have been entertaining if he didn't just keep going with it, but to my ear, it turned whiny and pathetic.
posted by Flunkie at 6:36 AM on January 6, 2010


I liked the guy when I was younger too. His mild right rants don't bother me much and some of the stuff he said does make a little sense. However, his act hasn't changed and smashing fruit with a sledge hammer really isn't that appealing to me anymore. When he brought up acts not making things meaningful, what's the meaning behind smashing fruit? Seriously? He's mad because comedians have water on stage. Water has nothing to do with their act, it's because talking so much might be drying out their voice. As for swear words being used and them being overused.... see Lewis Black. I saw him last month and Fuck, he is a fucking funny mother fucker. His act makes me laugh. It is up to date and evolves with the times. He came out in blue jeans and a black button up with 2-3 bottles of water and a stool for said water to rest on. I laughed for 2 hours straight. There were no props, no set stage, just someone telling jokes with foul language. In the world according to Gallagher this shouldn't be funny nor entertaining... Screw him. If he don't like it, he can pound sand, smash fruit or go play with his "Brown Round".... (I have seriously never heard of this term before today, has anyone else?)
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:59 AM on January 6, 2010


FWIW, I doubt the "Brown Round" was the fella's man parts. Probably the color of a darkening wall or ground where he was peeing. From behind, how would you see anything but that anyway?
posted by namewithhe1d at 7:48 AM on January 6, 2010


Oh, I assumed 'Brown Round' was an actual poo. Like, we're not going to bust a guy for peeing, 'cause sometimes a guy has to go, but public pooping is disgusting.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:59 AM on January 6, 2010


Oh, urbandictionary says that it is the butthole.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:59 AM on January 6, 2010


I remember being a lad and seeing Gallagher on the earliest incarnations of VH1. Back when it had a nightly stand up show hosted by Rosie O'Donnell and often featured the likes of Ellen or Richard Lewis.

I wonder if people will discuss the Blue Collar Comedy Tour in the same way or that you need to understand Carlos Mencia in context of his times.

Is anybody still doing prop comedy? It seems like most early 90's comics that are still around changed formats to stay afloat. Carrot Top certainly mutated.

I'm also surprised it took a woozle named Peanut woozle named Peanut two decades to get its own one-season show.
posted by beardlace at 8:29 AM on January 6, 2010


As has been mentioned above, Gallagher is the king of small-ball fan-base-building. He knows who his fans are -- what he calls "regular people" -- and if you ask nicely (and regular people usually do), he will shake your hand, autograph your left boob, take a picture or twelve with you, and indeed sell you stuff out of the trunk of his crappy red Nissan. It is amazing to me that wherever we go, especially in too-cool L.A., people over 50 and from other countries (where his Showtime specials must still be running) are star-struck beyond belief, and inevitably ask for an autograph/photo, and Gallagher always complies with a smile and a wink -- even if (usually if) he's in the middle of a foul-mouthed rant about how the cocksuckers who run Hollywood won't give him a break.
posted by turducken at 8:42 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: today's sidebar is about the G-spot, tomorrow's will be about Gallagher.
posted by billysumday at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


After racking my brains all night, I finally did remember knowing someone who was an avowed Gallagher fan. He was a Bible Belt kind of person, although he didn't live in the Bible Belt.

Have you ever wondered what kind of person keeps that ridiculously bland sitcom afloat for so many years? That would be Dan. He liked classic rock, Slim Jims, forgettable sitcoms, church on Sunday, and every Gallagher product he could get his hands on.

I remember him saying something about how "Everyone thinks Gallagher's about smashing watermelons, but his other stuff's really deep too." He contended that the audience came for the Other Stuff, while acknowledging that the entire set was an exciting build-up to the climactic finish.

So it's probably wrong to say that Gallagher's fans just like the smashing. They like all of it - although the smashing is what gets them visibly excited.

I wonder if Gallagher's continued existence is just an oddball and unfashionable proof of 1000 True Fans? [Previously]
posted by ErikaB at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2010


Sorry, say what you will about him, but Macho Man Randy Savage is most definitely not "bland".
posted by Flunkie at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2010


Best Show last night with guest Patton Oswalt went into some depth on Gallagher (around 2 hour 40 minute mark).
posted by acro at 10:14 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think there are two problems with judging Gallagher based on YouTube videos: 1) Physical comedy is funnier in person and 2) Any comedy is funnier in person.

My evidence for this is that I once saw a taping of Suddenly Susan, and it was funny.
posted by smackfu at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2010


As referred to in the Best Show link: article about Gallagher doing shows in Spanish.
posted by billysumday at 10:30 AM on January 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: urbandictionary says that it is the butthole
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:57 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


turducken - Perhaps I just never saw the small-ball effort before (shout out to my Angels, thanks for the reference). I'm 28 and loved Gallagher when I was a kid. I even went out of my way to get tickets for when he was at the OC Fair at around 12 years old. Still fun in person, though I was too cool to sit close. However, my encounter with him still stank of desperation - probably was - and pushed me away as a fan.

However, my childhood love of Weird Al Yankovic never seemed to stale the way it did with Gallagher even though I saw him perform at the OC Fair at some point as well. But then again, he was always changing up his art, and while staying in the same genre, the art was adapting correctly. And watching Gallagher just feels like I keep listening to Weird Al's My Bologne on loop for a couple decades.
posted by namewithhe1d at 11:26 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


patton oswalt on tom sharpling's show compares Gallagher to GG Allin.

now that is comedy.
posted by Hammond Rye at 11:55 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I don't know any comedian who likes hecklers. I mean, they're there, it happens, you have to deal with it, but it's a pretty rude thing to do.
posted by Comrade_robot


Zach Galifianakis, probably.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:01 PM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Doug Stanhope ... revels in victory that a fan recently killed himself after one of his shows.

Wait, what? What the fucking watermelon-smashing fuck?
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:36 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Peeling away some of the layers of bitterness in the Onion article, Gallagher has several valuable pieces of insight. I think he's right that Americans are generally more willing to embrace the mediocre and lazy over the brilliant and prepared. I'm not necessarily willing to put Gallagher in "brilliant" category, but I do admit that he has a strong work ethic and that his shows are clearly polished and prepared.

Of course, I think the same thing about Jay Leno's shows and still think those are lame.

Anyhow, I do think the Gallagher interview was worth the read and would be very interested in seeing turducken's documentary on the man. Indeed, I'd much rather listen to Gallagher angrily rant about comedy theory than watch him actually do comedy. Heck, I'd hire him to coach me if I was working stand-up.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:26 PM on January 6, 2010


>>being schooled onstage is a pretty venerable tradition in show business.
> Really? Onstage? Can you give a couple of other examples?


"Schooled" is ambiguous, but I think he was trying to save the show. Just watching the opener eat shit in silence leads to a bad night for everybody.

I don't know about teaching the kid anything -- he was "giving him the hook", as old a tradition as there is in show business. Jamie Foxx also did the same thing explicitly (and successfully) in that roast clip. The promoter stage manager of the club should have given the opener the light and got him off stage. Given that he or she didn't, cribcage had it right:

The kid had lost the audience, and Gallagher was right about how to fix it.
posted by msalt at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2010


Zach Galifianakis, probably.
posted by haveanicesummer at 4:01 PM on January 6


I'm curious why you think so -- 'being good at dealing with hecklers' is not necessarily 'likes hecklers'.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:57 PM on January 6, 2010


Well, at least Doug Stanhope knows that's how his routines make people feel. Both Gallagher's and Stanhope's routines make me long for the sweet release of death, personally.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:44 PM on January 6, 2010


I'm curious why you think so -- 'being good at dealing with hecklers' is not necessarily 'likes hecklers'.
posted by Comrade_robot


It's possible he doesn't actually like them, but from what I've seen of him, he feeds on conflict, awkwardness, anything unexpected. He seems to view hecklers as a challenge, and his confrontational style provokes and draws them out. He seems like the sort who doesn't give lots of serious interviews where he'd actually explain whether he likes them or not, but if anyone does, it'd be him.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:37 PM on January 6, 2010


I've never met a comic who likes hecklers. One problem is that you CAN destroy them with a spontaneous, devestating quip. Everyone goes nuts. And then the rest of your act seems pale in comparison.

More generally, any decent comic works hard on their material, is proud of it, and generally would rather share their POV than respond to some idiot. Being sharper than a drunk who yells shit out doesn't feel like that much of an achievement. And that's the best case scenario.
posted by msalt at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


(There are performers like Neil Hamburger or Andy Kaufman, but who are not comics so much as performance artists who play with crowd dynamics. There are also plenty of comics, and Stanhope is a notable example, who like to provoke the crowd. But even all of these are dealing with the audience as an organism, not isolated individual hecklers.)
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2010


Well, there are some comics who are really good at crowd work. (Just as an example: Jimmy Pardo's Pompous Clown. Even there, though, he's not exactly being heckled.)

I think a misconception that some people have about stand-up is that it's just this one dude standing there making all of this stuff up on the spot. And it's generally not; usually some guy has written a bunch of jokes in advance and he's tested them out on audiences and cut what didn't work and honed what did until it's pretty sharp. So when some drunk guy starts yelling out, the comic is not exactly thinking "Oh good, a random drunk guy's interrupting."

I'm pretty bush league and so I don't know Zach Galifianakis. (Which is not to say that I don't know of him.) And I'm really not trying to argue for anything but maybe trying to be nicer to people on stage because it's not as easy as you might think. But here's the only interview I could find:

Do you find the brand of heckler in a rock club different from that in a comedy club?
No, they are all from the same mold. The type of mold you find on the corner of a shower in a LaQuinta Inn

posted by Comrade_robot at 2:17 PM on January 7, 2010


It's surprisingly common for a heckler to come up after the show and say something about how they "helped you" with your show, because you could ridicule them. It's a very strange passive-aggressive psychology, and quite the backhanded insult.

But more often it's like fucked up 10 year old boys who throw stuff at cars until one of them stops and the owner chases them. Kind of a weird way of testing or exploring how the world works.
posted by msalt at 3:47 PM on January 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I attended a Rodney Dangerfield show in White Plains, NY with my dad somewhere in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Huge audience.

Part of Rodney's schtick was getting heckled, or so it seemed. People would shout stuff at him and he'd snap it right back. Some of them, looking back, were possibly plants - hard to say.

I only remember one anymore:

"HEY RODNEY DO YA FIND IT HARD GETTING UP IN THE MORNING?"

"Hey I don't complain whenever it ends up getting hard!"

I feel like a guy like that could demolish a heckler.
posted by jscott at 2:42 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was totally a plant. Hecklers don't yell set up lines. "HEY RODNEY, HOW MUCH RESPECT DO YOU GET?"
posted by msalt at 9:48 AM on January 11, 2010


« Older The Belly-Slitter's Knife: More Alpine Holiday Fun...   |   See Spot Run Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments