Gallagher has built a lengthy career in comedy by shocking his audience, first by smashing watermelons and just about anything else he can think up with his "Sledge-O-Matic" hammer, and in more recent years, by telling shockingly offensive jokes and berating anyone who doesn't like it.
Last night, however, the infamous prop comic shocked a Rochester, Minn., nightclub audience by collapsing onstage twice onstage, the second time while wielding the "Sledge-O-Matic," prompting audience members to rush to his aid. Gallagher (given name Leo Anthony Gallagher) was taken to a nearby hospital for overnight observation. His manager, Craig Marquardo, told the AP that Gallagher was in stable condition.
Photos taken by witness Chris Blade and published by the Rochester Post-Bulletin show the 64-year-old Gallagher standing atop a table onstage at Whiskey Bone's Roadhouse, then after collapsing, hidden behind it as audience members attended to him.
The nightclub's owner and audience members said that Gallagher had fainted earlier in the show and reported feeling numbness, but after a brief break to cool down while laying down, decided to go on with the show. No definitive medical diagnosis had been given overnight.
Gallagher is supposed to be performing tonight and Saturday at the Zanies in Vernon Hills, Ill., with more dates this month and next, including an April 8 return to the Gramercy Theatre in New York City. That was the site of an epically bad show I witnessed by Gallagher in 2008.
Word is Gallagher has canceled his gigs for this weekend and the next, awaiting further medical diagnosis and instructions.
Remember the end of Woodstock 1999? That seems to be the starting point for the Gathering of the Juggalos, the now-infamous annual party in the woods by the fans of Insane Clown Posse. Before, all I could imagine was what Joe DeRosa would describe in his stand-up bit about performing there, or the SNL parody of the Gathering's promo video. But now, we have footage from Tom Green, who was among last weekend's performers -- and managed to document his own journey, which included run-ins with Tila Tequila (before she was injured by fans throwing bottles and feces at her onstage!) and Gallagher (who somehow seemed at ease amid the mob).
Roll the tape!
Gallagher has reached that point, I suppose, in which he has embraced the madness completely. You comedy nerds may have noticed he gave a new interview last week to The Onion's A.V. Club, and without much prodding at all, jumps right into rant after rant. At one point, he appears to be defending himself for his NYC performance that I had the sheer "privilege" of attending from up-close two years ago and then trying to share with all of you. But really, you probably just want to know, does he still take the sledgehammer to the melons and pies and such? Yes. Yes he does. So cut to the chase this morning and Gallagher's appearance on the Opie & Anthony radio programme. Roll it!
For a different perspective that ends with Star Wars scrolling fun facts in a Gallagher FAQ, watch this clip courtesy of comedian Robert Kelly. Roll it!
Comedians love to point out the absurdities in the world around us, and mock celebrities, politicians and other powerful people who deserve to be brought down a notch or two or thirty-seven. But when comedians target other comedians for mockery, it always feels a little weird to me (and that's a little weird, too, isn't it?). Which brings us to CollegeHumor's new original video "Unfunny People," which is a take-off of Judd Apatow's summer movie, Funny People, but with jabs at prop comics instead of stand-ups, putting Gallagher and Carrot Top in their crosshairs (in the roles played in the movie by Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen):
Previously, CollegeHumor produced a music video called "Stop Carlos Mencia" featuring a number of working NYC-based comedians:
When Kevin James went to bed last night, he knew his reign as king of the box office had ended, with Taken dislodging Paul Blart: Mall Cop from the top of the charts. But the King of Queens star still took a victory lap on his character's signature Segway on Super Bowl Sunday, enjoying the ride as he talked up the movie during NBC's pregame coverage and saw the studio roll out new ads touting Blart as America's first blockbuster of 2009. Ah, Hollywood hyperbole. In two weeks and three weekends, the movie so far has grossed north of $83 million.
There are many things funnier than Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but perhaps none funnier than watching critics, journalists and bloggers fall all over themselves trying to make sense of the film's popularity. The Los Angeles Times said the movie "was underestimated"...by whom? EW's PopWatch blog asked if James was ready for meatier roles, so to speak. New York's Vulture blog, meanwhile, tried to coin "Blart" as an adjective for an entire genre of film. And the AP tried dissecting the film's appeal. As if it were all a big secret. Spoiler alert! It's not a secret. Though the film is kind of a mess, particularly the first half, once the action sequences start, it's a broad slapstick take on action heroes, with James nimbly fulfilling the fantasies of all of The Biggest Losers in America. Simply put, perhaps James should have switched TV titles with his longtime comedy buddy Ray Romano because Everybody Loves Kevin. And Kevin James loves his fellow comedians, and especially his brother.
For more than 200 episodes of King of Queens on CBS (and continuing in syndication), James shared his stage with comedians who dropped by for short stints and for long-running characters, most notably Jerry Stiller and Patton Oswalt, but also Nicole Sullivan, Jimmy Shubert, Eddie Pepitone, Adam Ferrara, Jackie Flynn and James's brother, Gary Valentine. Ferrara, Flynn and Valentine also got parts in Blart. And Valentine previously scored a role supporting James in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.
Brotherly love in show business is a rare breed in the world of stand-up comedy. Certainly, there have been plenty of brothers in comedy (Marx, Smothers, Murray, Wayans, Farley, Sklar), but they either stuck together as acts or worked separately in TV and film projects. Eddie Murphy's brother, Charlie Murphy, dove into stand-up comedy only once Eddie had left the stage. Chris Rock and brother Tony Rock both tour comedy clubs and theaters, but they appear to work on their projects individually. Gallagher famously got into a family fight and lawsuit with his brother after he toured as Gallagher Too. Rising comedian Mike Birbiglia's brother assists him in writing and shaping his material. Perhaps the only example I can think of, though, wherein two brothers in stand-up comedy actively helped each other's career on the road is Brian Regan and his brother Dennis. The two Regans toured clubs together for years, with Dennis opening for his more famous brother, Brian. More recently, Dennis Regan also had worked as a writer and story editor for...King of Queens.
Want to hear more about the infamous Gallagher show in New York City two weeks ago? I was on the radio last night (along with The Onion's Amelie Gillette) talking with Luke Burbank about it on his Seattle radio program, Too Beautiful To Live, on KIRO 710 AM. You can listen to it via the archives (go to the 7 p.m. hour of March 26 and download the MP3, or you can find it as a podcast on iTunes!) Good times.
Epic. When I got the email the other day asking if I wanted to see Gallagher on Friday night at the Blender Theatre in NYC, I had to think about it for all of the two seconds it took to hit the reply button. Yes. Yes, I did want to see Gallagher. I needed to see Gallagher. I needed to know why this man, at 61, was still touring the nation and smashing food, if, in fact, he was still smashing food, and who in the world would want to see him still smash food. Twenty-five years ago, I'd seen him on the TV as many millions of Americans had. Years later, I saw the E! True Hollywood Story about Gallagher and learned of his brother who toured as his double and the double trouble that had caused. So what would Gallagher be like today?
Before we get to that, let's have a happy image. This is Carla Rhodes, talented ventriloquist and the only member of our party with the courage enough to join Gallagher onstage to grab the Sledge-O-Matic.
But we had to wait quite a while for this shot. How long? Take your guesses now.
When he emerged onstage just after 9 p.m., the crowd roared. But the microphone wouldn't work. Gallagher gagged: "How long does it take the sound guy to do cocaine?" For those who could hear him, laughter. When they fixed the problem (an unplugged wire), the show would begin. Or not. Turns out, Gallagher informed us all, that he had only sold 200 tickets by the day prior to arriving at New York City. So an opening act, the "Aspiring Tyrants," entered the fray and sold an additional 100 tickets for the show at the Blender Theatre. Gallagher, doing the math, then told it to us: "For every two people here to see me, there's one person to see them." So see them we must. All four of them. All four of them unknown to even us who follow the NYC comedy scene. This had become...a bringer show!? Indeed it had. The oddest, largest bringer show I've seen. I have the names of these comedians (the strongest of whom told me and my friends afterward that they know someone at Live Nation who hooked them up with the show), but I shall not name them here. Not in this post, anyhow. And you shall see why in the next sentence.
When I tell you how Gallagher proceeded to first "coach" and then outright "heckle" each of his four opening acts. It started off benignly, the first opener shuffling and mumbling, so Gallagher ran up and said to get right into the jokes. "How do you make pickled whorebread?" Gallagher asked. "Dill dough!" And he ran off. It derailed and went far, far off the tracks from there. After the fourth or fifth interruption, the crowd began to feel bad for this first unknown comic. Remember, there were 100 ticketholders who wanted to see these openers. During Gallagher's heckling of the second opener, someone from the crowd shouted, "I want a watermelon!" Gallagher's retort: "That's the climax. You get yours early, I guess." Show salvaged? Not quite. The third opener bombed about as big as an unknown comedian can bomb. He even acknowledged it onstage, while drinking a can of beer. I turned to my friends and said I'd much rather watch this at home on my TV under heavy medication, instead of how I was watching this unfold, completely sober. Gallagher even had two of these openers, plus a kid from the front row, act out a joke about a bear and rabbit crapping in the woods. The fourth opener had some material and stage presence going for him, and even held his own when Gallagher hopped onstage again and this time took off his shirt and put on a silly hat. Marianne Ways, sitting behind me, took a bunch of photos and at this point, said she had seen Gallagher live when she was 13. "All the old feelings are coming back to me," she said. After Gallagher interrupted the fourth opener by questioning his transition from one topic to another, the opener said, "It was a funny joke, until you came onstage." Now the crowd was on the opener's side and Gallagher eventually trudged off and disappeared. We even wondered if he'd had enough himself and gone back to his hotel. But no. After an hour of this -- yes, this opening sequence sucked an entire hour out of our lives -- and after the four openers stopped the show entirely to have their pictures taken. Seriously. No joke. And by that, I mean, no joke.
After all of that, Gallagher emerged to start his show.
Gallagher had 25 minutes of material to deliver before you even saw the first prop, a banana peel covering a hot dog that he dug out of his pocket. He talked about his age, how he now looks at women as "a bag of hamburgers, and I'm not hungry," and about getting his prostate checked. He talked about wondering why God designed the human body the way He did. He joked about getting in trouble with gay people, deaf people, the handicapped, and proved why by doing several troublesome jokes. He told us, in all seriousness, that he was making us think. "This is the smartest show you'll ever go to," Gallagher told us. He talked about his problem with all of the French words in the English language and that they turn us into sissies. Who says the word sissy anymore, anyhow? Only a sissy. Moving on. Plenty of "Hey-OH!" groaner jokes to be had in this set. There was a drunk couple in the front row who liked to chatter so much that Gallagher stopped the show more than once and eventually ordered them out, which led to the drunk woman's family members to also leave. Or so we thought. The drunk man emerged from out of nowhere a couple of times, once to try to shake Gallagher's hand, then later to shout at Gallagher that they were no longer fans of his. If only we had some of this on video. Ahem.
Gallagher had a table full of food ingredients and filled pie trays with corn and mashed potatoes, apple pieces and applesauce, dog food with Pepto Bismol and Spam, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, and more, including, of course, the watermelon slices. It wouldn't be until 11:05 p.m. that we actually got to see him smash anything and make our plastic ponchos valuable wardrobe items. For the next 20 minutes, Gallagher smashed food and had fans come onstage to get initiated. Almost all of the fans onstage were men in their teens and early 20s.
"You won't remember what I said, but you'll remember what I did," Gallagher said last night. And we shall remember this night all too well.
Tragedy? Comedy? Tragedy that we couldn't help but laugh at during the show and hours afterward. Something happened here that we shall not soon forget. And if you have someone offer you a ticket to see Gallagher, you know you need to say yes. Because this was epic.
P.S. In gchat with a comedian this afternoon, I just remembered that I also had a mini-moment with Gallagher during the show. He attempted to make a joke about Isiah Thomas and his sexual harassment lawsuit but couldn't remember that he coaches the New York Knicks, so instead, Gallagher stumbled for his words, and ultimately went with, "and...uh...that team." Mostly silence since the crowd didn't even know what he was trying to say, but I busted a gut. Gallagher turned, pointed and smiled at me in the third row. "Look, he gets it!" No. That's not why I was laughing so much and so hard.
P.P.S. Eliot Glazer recently interviewed Gallagher and you can read it here.