Gallagher: The _Heeb_ Interview

If Dave Chappelle’s Black Gallagher is any indication, a new generation of comics is actually paying more attention to Leo Gallagher, who has been on the road for two decades relentlessly popping one-liners and splattering foodstuffs all over live audiences. Heeb caught up with him while he was onroute to a gig from his Westlake Village home in Los Angeles.

You have good standup material that gets overshadowed by the assault on food. Has that always been a frustration for you?

It has happened over a span in my life, yes. People want to reduce you to an appositive. Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comedian, that’s what I became instead of biting satirist. Sledge-o-Matic was a satire of the house appliance infomercial. ‘Why are you going to chop up food you’re going to chew?’ The more brutal and stupid I could make the gig the better, hanging the kitchen.

Despite the pot-shots for the prop gimmick, you’ve contributed a great amount to the standup stage.

Look at the acts from GWAR and Insane Clown Posse. I think I freed up the theater to be used up as a playground. If you think about it, I initiated the mosh pit. There used to be a rule about the fourth wall in the theater, but, no, this is just a building where we’re having a meeting to have good time.

Have you ever smashed any kosher foods on stage?

Not yet. The food has to be gooey, but I dont want it to smell. Then they’ll say my act stinks, and they won’t like it. Usually it’s the sauerkraut because it has a vinegar base. I like it because they dont like it. When they complain, I know I hit the jackpot.

Do you cook much?

I’m a pasta guy, then I had a heart attack in 2000. Sometimes I decide to go ahead and die of a latte. I can’t order a soy latte. Everyone will look at me and call me a sissy.

Has Vegas ever come up on the radar for you? Like, a five-nights-a week at a casino thing rather than schlepping across the States?

I wouldn’t draw that much of a crowd at five-nights-a-week. Two nights is a lot for me. In Las Vegas, you expect the spectacular.

You’ve been doing this for so long, I wonder, do you recycle old material?

I don’t do anything I always did. I need to entertain myself. I need to write something every day. I’m a writer and a performer. When people come to see me, they’re going to laugh. The jokes are a surprise. If you’ve already heard it, you’re not going to laugh. It’s not like songs, where people want the band to play all the old hits.

Is standup comedy tougher these days for you?

Today people have seen and heard a lot more, so it takes a lot more. ‘Ass’ used to get a lot of laughs, but now everyone says it. It’s like what the girls are doing with lingerie. It used to get guys excited, but now girls are wearing it as a top, so the clothing loses its power. If the boys are showing your underwear, then the girls are losing their blouses.

So you’re saying that everyone is desensitized to vulgarity. Then how do you make the blue material work?

It’s still all about the three areas: tits, dick and ass. But you have to come at it in a more clever way or outrageous way. It’s definitely more of a challenge. I used to put a balloon in my pants in the back and say ‘If men had a tail, would it be legal to leave it out or would you have to tuck it in?’

That used to get a big laugh, but these days that would be very tame. Now I might say that it’s hard to know in the Clinton family which one has the balls. I can’t say balls on tv, but I could probably say huevos. So I’m in that area, but I’m trying to do it cleverly and still using genitalia.

Have you found that racial material is more effective these days than sexual innuendo?

I can’t do any race jokes. I don’t have any black people in my audience, so it doesnt have any significance to my crowd.

In my comedy I can’t be downtrodden. I can’t say ‘Oh, feel sorry for me.’ They wouldnt accept that. I did a couple gay jokes, and I got on the shitlist with communities. I don’t know why people who are trying to get into society would use exclusion as a tool to get to people they would picket for a show. Their organization shouldn’t be called GLAD if they’re always pissed.

On The Howard Stern Show, you mentioned on the radio how you think the McCain’s going to win. Why is that?

Because people are afraid. They’re not going to choose. We dont know anything really about Hilary or Obama. It’s going to be the same group again. The workers against the bosses, and the saving grace for the Republicans is that Mexicans are Catholic. I think they can’t go for an abortionous candidate.

It’s funny how, when you look at your packed shows from the 80s, the ages were like 30 and up. But your material must appeal to kids, too, right?

I bring kids on stage now and show them how to smash. It makes it more interesting to interact with the audience. I talk to the kids, too. It is difficult. It’s hard to understand me: why would a really smart guy be really interested in doing something really stupid? I guess I’m just a gray area.

What do you think?

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Brian Abrams

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Gallagher looks like a cross between David Crosby and Freddy Kruger


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