Ladies and Gentleman, Gallagher-mania is sweeping the nation once again. First The Apiary had an amazing interview and then The Comic's Comic saw him live. We unfortunately missed our chance as Gallagher was in Jim Thorpe, PA last Saturday. Jim Thorpe! We suppose he played the Jim Thorpe Coliseum, a 20,000-seater, right?
So it is in this Gallagher-spirit that we publish this interview that Bedtime Stories host Gregg Gethard wrote in 2004 for a Plymouth, Massachusetts newspaper where Gallagher was set to perform:
As a newspaper reporter, I spent most of my post-college years waiting for the stars to align themselves in a way that would allow me to catch my big break in journalism. That never did happen, since I'm now 30 and unemployed. But I was lucky enough one day to have the opportunity to interview Gallagher -- the legendary watermelon-smashing prop comic. Enjoy!
Some of these lines are so unbelievable that we figured Gregg was pulling a Scott Templeton, but he swears that it's all true ("everything he said is in my notes!").
A man, a mission, a mellon
Political prop comic comes to Plymouth.
PLYMOUTH-- “I think we’re all pawns in a great, big game,” Gallagher, a little-known presidential candidate and very famous stand-up comic, said.
Best known for using the “Sledge-O-Matic” to pepper tarp-wearing audiences with watermelons and other assorted food items he smashes at the end of his shows, Gallagher will perform Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.And he’s dead serious about running for president. His biggest gripe is with NAFTA, which he blames for job losses throughout the country.
“I said this in one of my videotapes. Never Allow Foreigners To Achieve. That’s what NAFTA really stands for,” Gallagher said. “It’s treason to export jobs out of the country because we’re a team. America is a team. If your neighbor loses his job, you’re not unaffected. It can cause a lack of taxes, a lack of services, crime.”
Gallagher has other views outside the mainstream of American politics.
On the war on terror: “I think the war on terror is about insurance. Insurance companies didn’t know how much to charge for a building that might be blown up. They told the president’s father to say something to his son and get him to do something.”
On American foreign policy: “They want a tighter involvement with India, China and Malaysia. They’re allowing companies to hire them so they get involved and tied in with us. They’re using the economy for foreign policy. I think that’s what’s going on.”
On American morality: “We’re losing our definition of morality. Why be upset about Janet Jackson when most girls walk around without a bra on anyway? Why be upset with Kobe Bryant when the president has sex with an intern? You can’t figure America out. That’s why Arabs attacked the World Trade Center. No one seemed upset that our embassies got bombed in Africa or they attacked a ship tied up in Yemen. We give out mixed signals or no signals at all.”
On parents: “It all goes back to parents being afraid to say anything. Kids today have tattoos or purple hair or holes in their body. The things kids do, if their parents did it ten years ago, they would have lost custody of the kid. Or it would be done to get prisoners of war to talk. Of course, piercing someone’s tongue to get them to talk doesn’t make much sense.”
Gallagher started in politics last year when he ran for governor of California.During his gubenatorial campaign, Gallagher ended up in Iowa and Illinois where he discovered a Maytag factory closing in the small town of Galesburg, Ill. The factory jobs moved elsewhere.
Gallagher says he attempted to drum up interest about the factory in the local media, then inundated with Iowa primary news. Desperate to get someone to notice the plight of a small, middle-American town, Gallagher thought up a stunt for attention.
“I couldn’t get anyone’s attention,” Gallagher said. “The media wants a story that is happening quick that has a pitch to it. I said to the guys at a labor union, ‘let’s blow up a bomb in the town square for Labor Day.’ They’ll come cover it, and we’ll tell the story of what Maytag is doing. But the fire marshal hated it, the police hated the idea and finally, I said, ‘what am I doing here?’ I can’t get the media interested in this story. The local authorities don’t want me to help the people here. Instead, they had a Labor Day parade, kind of celebrating the fact that they do not have any more labor in town. It was almost like a comedy routine, some sort of ironic stupid story that doesn’t make sense.”
Gallagher returned to California, surrounded by the wealthy and the fabulous.“No one seems to care,” he said. “I can’t continue to believe the world is so stupid.”
He also realizes the struggling economy affects his business.
“The reason you’re talking to me is that I am not selling that many tickets in Plymouth,” Gallagher said. “It all gets down to economics. I rent the theater. I buy the ads. I pick the ticket price but people who do not have jobs can’t come to a comedy show. I can’t really stand by and watch America be mismanaged and misled. But I don’t know what to do about it. I put my ideas on the Internet. I've mentioned them in interviews but people don’t jump on them. People don’t talk them up and change things.”
And without change, Gallagher thinks his career could come to an end.
“I’m in a desperate battle to save my way of life as a touring comedian,” Gallagher said. “I’m being threatened. As my market is losing its money, we’re losing facilities and the audience is taking over my job of being outrageous. Everything is wrong with my business.”
Gallagher said he continues to fight on, slightly edgier than before. He said he does his own promotion and has no interest in land a role on a sit-com or working as a talk show host.
“I’m just like Lenny Bruce,” Gallagher said. “I’m saying and doing things nobody else is. I don’t have a network. I don’t have a national sponsor. I’m what people are fighting for, the freedom of speech. Everybody else is compromised and not going to speak freely.”
Gallagher said he’s changed the way he performs over the years. Instead of merely just telling jokes and smashing watermelons, Gallagher now brings people up on stage with him and incorporates the audience into his bits.
“You have to stay ahead of the audience,” he said. “I still am giving them more than they thought and they’re having more fun then they thought.”
Gallagher also took credit for interactivity between performers and an audience.
“I was talking to my friend about Universal (amusement park),” he said. “They have so many things that splash you. They owe that to me. They would be too chicken to splash people on their own if I didn’t show them the way. The Blue Man Group. The Insane Clown Posse. There are now innumerable acts that are coming off of the stage and involving the audience.”
“I think the mosh pit is due to me,” he added. “What I’m showing people is that the audience wanted to do more than just sit in their chair.”
However, while Gallagher takes credit for that kind of interaction, he freely admits that his popularity has waned from his peak period.
He is, perhaps, a pawn in a great, big game that no longer sees him in control.
“People say to me, I’ve watched you my whole life,” Gallagher. “I started cable. Cable was the only place a person could speak freely in America. I started Showtime. Showtime should be there for me now. They should be offering me new specials and my own talk show instead of sticking all the old shows on Comedy Central and having no interest in me. You just get thrown away in America for what’s the next, new thing.”
Gallagher's website, Gallaghersmash.com, has a lot of great stuff, including some audio interviews on the right: "Do you believe in reincarnation? I believe I was a comedian in a previous life." Gallagher also has a podcast with complete sets, but there's no link on his website so you'll have to type "Gallagher" into iTunes.
- Gallagher was recently on The Howard Stern Show