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Comedy Legend to Smash Vinyl

By Bubbs Harris

Gallagher shows tend to attract people who don’t mind getting messy.

He will bring down the Sledge-O-Matic again and again and it will be hilarious.

The inventor of the Sledge-O-Matic—a giant mallet used to smash, most notably, watermelons—Gallagher has managed to entertain crowds with a healthy dose of wit, a whole lot of silliness and fun, for over four decades. As the ageless comedian makes his way back out on the road after an early 2011 health scare, Gallagher is determined to show the world that he still has plenty of juice in the old melon. He’ll be kicking the tour off at Vinyl Music Hall for a “smashing” good time. While seated tickets are long sold out, there are some standing room tickets still available for the first of hopefully many comedy shows at Vinyl. IN was fortunate enough to have a quick chat with the master of political-prop comedy before the tour kicks off.

IN: After doing this for over four decades, do you see the eventual retirement looming just on the horizon, or do you still have plenty of steam left?
Gallagher: No looming, I have plenty of steam left. I am looking into other ventures, like cartoons, songs, and writing, though.

IN: When you come to Pensacola, you’ll be playing a relatively small venue, considering the size of your act. Do you enjoy playing the smaller clubs, as opposed to big theaters and civic centers? It probably makes the Sledge-O-Matic a lot more fun!
Gallagher: I enjoy the small clubs, it’s more personable. You can get a little more crazy with them. I still do the theaters and civic centers, but the small clubs are a lot of fun. I actually hang out with the fans and get to know them.

IN: Though you rely on a healthy dose of good old fashioned silliness in your act, you have always shared your thoughts on politics. With the 2012 election coming up, who are you leaning toward and why do you think that this country needs a strong leader now more than ever?
Gallagher: I think you really have to pay attention to who is running. I think that there is good and bad in each one, and the country needs help. Do you ever get what you vote for anyway?

IN: Also, in reference to the last question, do you think that Americans need comedy now, more than ever, what with the current economic situation and the staggering number of folks on antidepressants? It seems laughter is one of the only free things left.
Gallagher: Comedy is the root for youthfulness. Every day, all around you is comedy; you just have to look and have an open imagination. Laughter is free, and I love to entertain my fans. I make my show for them.  When I am in a town for a show, I look around and put what they see and hear in my show so they can relate even more. They love that!

IN: Do you have any plans to record another special?
Gallagher: I don’t know, maybe. I am working on a biography, though.

IN: You write all of your own material, which is amazing. Do the creative juices still flow as fast as they did back in the old days?
Gallagher: My creative juices flow too much. I constantly write poems, songs, jokes, short stories, comics, etc … I have pads upon pads of all of my writings. I share these with people I meet on the road and they help with some music and other input to make them even better.

IN: How many Sledge-O-Matics have you gone through over the years, or is that thing indestructible?
Gallagher: Many! I make new ones quite often. They are even stolen from the airport and the stage.

IN: Since the wave of technology that we Americans are so dependent on has come along, how have you found it helpful, or hurtful to the comedy circuit?
Gallagher: I do my stand-up, I smack melons. I don’t think that the technology today really affects my act. I do, on the other hand, think that many other acts/musicians use it for more drama. What happened to good ‘ol entertainment, where you were watching the artists, not the screens and lights?

IN: What advice would you give to young comedians who look at and listen to all of these blogs and podcasts that tell them that what they are doing is all wrong?
Gallagher: I think that the internet/podcasts are a great medium to get yourself out there. Although, they do have a down side, especially when you get those jerks that just say anything to cause a bad situation just to get posts. They aren’t out on the road, they sit in an office. People are much different in person. What people see on the podcasts are sometimes cut and altered to make the interview much more interesting.

IN: Lately, there have been some complaints about you pushing the envelope a bit. However, given the current state of comedy, pushing buttons seems to be the name of the game. What makes certain subjects okay for some comics, but not others?
Gallagher: Each comedian is different. I think you should say what you feel; what you think is funny and see how it goes. George Carlin did it and they loved him. I do it, and I am ridiculed. I say things that I see and hear every day and tell you another way to think about it. I make people think outside the box.

GALLAGHER
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 20
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $20-$30 (Seated tickets sold out, standing room available.)
INFO: vinylmusichall.com