January 18th, 2012:

ZANY COMEDIAN GALLAGHER

Before Carrot Top, Gallagher was the primary prop comedian, known for smashing watermelons and other juicy fruits and vegetables with his famous Sledge-a-Matic. His audiences wore ponchos and carried plastic to protect themselves from the objects flying off any stage Gallagher was performing upon.

I saw him perform on TV over the years and, according to his website, he’s still active. In the next couple of months he’ll be in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Wyoming. I think he probably lives now in Florida—he claimed at one point he was the most famous man to come out of Tampa, Florida!

More than a few years ago, I spent a pleasant afternoon interviewing him at his home in the mountains of Agoura, CA, when I was writing a weekly newspaper column. He had two homes and since, as he said, “I got rid of the women in my life and I can do what I want,” he could decorate them as he wished. I visited the home with a view and the unusual décor. He told me the other home was to store his props.

At that time Gallagher had a 7-year-old son and so he’d installed a swing from the high center beam of his living room. What a way to watch TV! Using his creative mind, Gallagher had figured out some unique remodeling when he couldn’t find an appropriate place for his son’s bed. After knocking down the wall between two small bedrooms, he installed a swinging platform from the ceiling so the bed could swing between the two rooms. This was a man who liked motion!

In his garage he had some of his old props: a bicycle with a car door attached, a steamroller made of foam so it could squash kids, a huge couch and some huge chairs. He had also kept the O.J. Simpson imaginary murder weapon—a knife at the end of a golf club. Gallagher writes his own material and creates his own props. He designed a guitar with a hole that falls off, and  also a guitar with a make-believe old man who lived in it. When the guitar got too loud, the old man’s voice could be heard complaining, “Calm it down.”

Although he started off life with a normal job—selling for Allied Chemical—he found a better idea when he was fired and had to go home to think about the next step. An old TV ad for the Veg-a-Matic (a vegetable slicer) inspired the Sledge-a-Matic. “People don’t expect you to smack something when you’re watching a show in a small club.” Before he used watermelons, he used oranges, apples and grapes as he told jokes.

He still likes to entertain in small towns and out-of-the-way places and finds humor specific to them by studying their local newspapers. He told me he likes to stir things up but that all his comedy “is the truth.”

Gallagher’s proud of his staying power and the fact that his comedy appeals to entire families, “My fans are old enough to bring their kids. A third of the audience is over 50. I get more grandmothers with kids than boyfriends and girlfriends.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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