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January 10th, 2005

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12:19 pm - Gallagher: The King of Spite and Bile
If you haven't noticed by now, I hate Top X Lists. I always read them, but I almost always get mad at them. Maybe this is why the media feel compelled to put these lists together -- I check to see where my favorites land, and then I keep reading. Once Twin Peaks lofts at an unfair 91, I glance through the entire list to see what the Top Three TV Programmes* In Which a Major Character Does Horrific Things While under the Control of an Evil Spirit Named Bob are.

They're Newhart, The Newlywed Game, and The Price is Right, by the way. But I digress.

This morning I had a look at Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Standups of All Time. I'm not a big fan of standup comedy, but I appreciate it. Almost half of the people in Comedy Central's top 20 (and most of the top ten) would match my own list, and those are better odds than usual. As with any list of this nature, some of the more current household names on it will be less relevant in five years. Denis Leary and Eddie Izzard belong higher and Jerry Seinfeld belongs much lower (like, we could add a few decimal places), but the names I want to see on the list are there.

And then there's Gallagher at number 100.

Gallagher, for those who don't remember (or who have repressed the memory) was the guy who used to hit a watermelon with a sledgehammer onstage. He also... um... He... Well, nobody remembers the rest of his act, but they do remember him as the Watermelon Guy. Anyway, the reason I bring him up is that The Oregonian just interviewed him about his placement on the list, and he's pretty bitter about it. Check out his assessment of his higher-ranking competitors:
  • Jim Carey: [E]mbarrassing. He didn't know where to go with that broad, overplayed action that he has. He could really look stupid. It amazes me that these comedians have serious acting careers.

  • Robin Williams: ...Robin always has C-level jokes since he does them so spontaneously. The thing about him is that when he says something, you think, "What does that mean?" ... Everything he says seems funny but it's not really a joke.

  • David Letterman: What I never got was that he was never funny enough to be a guest, so how does he become the host?
He also dismisses Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton as "terrible," saying that they "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."

Does anybody else have any idea as to why that might be? I have a hunch that it might have something to do with his material, maybe the fact that he's been trotting out the same not funny (but off-color enough to elicit nervous laughter) material since the early '80s. We liked that stuff twenty years ago, in the same way that we liked widening the gender gap and starting every sentence with "what the hell is up with" in the mid-'90s. By now most of us have moved on, and are not willing to spend $60/ticket to see another show that climaxes with produce being sledged onstage.

Michael Keaton, Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks moved on (which is not the same as selling out). If they still wanted to do standup, I'm sure they would. Hollywood is full of people who do movies because they're too good for standup, and people who do standup because they're too good for movies. "Why does Jim Carrey get a serious part when he got famous by overacting?" Maybe it's because he's good at more than overacting. Tom Hanks is fast becoming the James Stewart (or maybe Dick Van Dyke) of his generation. Why does David Letterman get to host a talk show? Because once the cue cards are gone, he can give a glib, relaxed interview.

Gallagher says that people get him in "Green Bay, Wisconsin. I can play a 2,000-seater there and do three shows. I'll do a show in Los Angeles in front of 800 people.." and that he'd like a shot at a film career: "New York and Los Angeles just don't get me. "

I've been to Green Bay. I know Green Bay. Green Bay isn't culturally retarded, but it's not a bastion of the arts, either, and they take what they can get. Sure, Gallagher sells out in Green Bay. So does Korn, Rent (in 1999 -- I was there), and everything from The Vagina Monologues to The Ice Capades Presents Weekend at Bernie's II. Why no movie deal? Has he even expressed an interest? Or is he holding out for the perfect Gallagher role ("What's my motivation, Mr. Bergman? Did the watermelon give me the finger or something?")?

I've always hated the "sit down and shut up" attitude that drives standup comedy (let's face it, popular standup is 90% "sit down and shut up," and the other 10% is populated by the likes of Denis Leary ("sit down, shut up, and pull up your pants"), Adam Sandler ("sit down, shut up, and listen to every word I say!"), Dave Chappelle ("sit down and shut up, bitch!"), and Steven Wright ("Once I was going to shut down my computer, and I accidentally clicked on 'shut up.' Now when I have new mail, AOL sends me smoke signals")), but maybe Gallagher could use a dose. Or maybe he could lay off the watermelons and come up with something new.

* It's a British list.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: Bobby Prince Jr. -- Be Very Sphereful With My Diamonds

(11 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
Do you really want to know what Gallagher's other material is? (No, I've never paid to see him...but I did smoke some pot in high school and smashed watermellons are funny when you're stoned) His other material consist of the fat woman on a stick which is...a stuffed fat woman on a stick that gets suspended over the audience, the hat with hair on it which is a hat from the 60s with extra hair, and the muscle coat which is a coat that looks like really big muscles. I thought I should enlighten you...and now I'm going to go get stoned
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC)
I've seen some of his work -- I think I saw the muscle coat. I kind of assumed that Gallagher aims his work at five year olds ('cause hitting food with sledge hammers is funny when you're five) and stoners.

As a matter of fact, that might be the best argument for sobriety I've ever heard: "Stay away from The Marihuana, kids. It'll make you enjoy Gallagher."
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2005 10:45 pm (UTC)
You sardonic bastard; your LJ rants are always so amusing. Keep up the good work! (And beware those evil Bob spirits, eh?)
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2005 11:22 pm (UTC)
Why thank you. I'm rather proud of this one.
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2005 04:05 am (UTC)
And happy birthday, by the way.
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)

"The King of Spite and Bile"

You really nailed Gallagher there. This is the guy who dispatched his brother to play the "Gallagher" act in mid-level comedy clubs (which he'd outgrown) because he hoped that would keep Carrot Top from stealing his prop-comic thunder...and then sued his brother for "stealing" his act after it didn't work.

What a painfully unfunny jackass.
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2005 04:04 am (UTC)

Re: "The King of Spite and Bile"

I can't quite put into words how amused I am by the idea that Gallagher is worried about Carrot Top stealing his best material.

He's probably the only professional commedian in the world with that problem.
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC)
Gallagher is an bigoted, racist, homophpbic idiot. My sister worked on one of his shows when he was here, and gave me the scoop.

And, quite frankly - HE'S NOT FUNNY...

I wonder if that has something to do with his condo-renting days not being over yet?
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2005 02:08 pm (UTC)
Wow. Didn't know that stuff, but it doesn't surprise me at all. Yesterday while looking him up I found a message board where somebody was saying that he loved Gallagher up until the live performance where he railed on for ten minutes about Native Americans, then put a head dress on a watermelon, called it Chief Joseph, and smashed it. The laughter ground to a halt.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)

Ha ha ha!

Good ol' Gallagher...

He was on Comedy Central one night - it was one of acts from like '82 (but I could've sworn '76 from the look of things) and I remember wishing he'd hurry the fuck up and start smashing shit.
[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2005 11:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Ha ha ha!

Wow, he was that good, huh? I've never seen his whole act, just the "best parts" of a few videos one of my friends has.
Garmonbozia for the soul.

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