I have a soft spot in my heart for carnivals, side shows, state fairs, and the like. I was looking for something to do Friday night (before I left for Austin), and The Onion had a listing for Gallagher--yes, the guy who smashes watermelons. I thought it might be amusing and maybe even mildly entertaining, but I did go as an anthropologist would: to observe a strange and unknown culture. Little did I know it would turn out to be one of the most astonishing shows I had ever seen. And not in a good way.
The show was at the Blender Theater, a rock club (formerly a movie theater--I had seen a movie there probably 15 years ago) that had been covered in plastic for the show. Things started badly---there were only two mics onstage, and they couldn't get either one to work. And I mean for about five minutes. Finally, after Gallagher started tracing out the mic cable himself, a guy ran down from the console and, yes, plugged the cable in.
Gallagher then went on to tell the audience that he had sold 200 tickets, but that the promoters had basically saddled him with an additional comedy group, and that group had sold 100 tickets. So he introduced them and the first guy went on, and within a few seconds Gallagher was back onstage telling the guy not to lean on the mic stand, or say, "What's Up?" Gallagher was right, and, at this point, it was kind of funny, and he told an off color joke to get back on track. The guy basically bombed, and Gallagher went up and called up the female comic of the group, and she was OK and Gallagher pretty much left her alone. After that was guy 3 of 4, and he was awful, and drinking a beer on stage. Gallagher was ruthless with him (rightfully so) and derailed his set to force them all to act out a joke. This was OK, but painfully long. Then finally the fourth comic came on, and he seemed to have a speech impediment or something, and was working very hard to get every word out. He was OK, but not really that funny. So this went on, Gallagher eventually left this guy alone, and then finally his own show started.
At this point, Gallagher had just lost any momentum that had been built whatsoever, and he was basically losing the audience. There was a really drunk group in the front row, and they were (I guess) talking through his act. Gallagher was ruthless with them, which was fine since they were apparently disturbing people, but he did it in a blunt way that wasn’t funny or even kind in the least. And, he even said more than once, “I’m rich, I don’t need your money!” That’s when things just started REALLY going downhill. The guy got up (to go to the bathroom I assume) and Gallagher then told security to not let him back in, since the guy was "trying to put on his own show" in the front row. One of the remaining drunk girls turned out to be drunk guy's girlfriend, so she eventually left. And then two more left because they were friends of the other couple. And, they were all die-hard Gallagher fans, who got there early to sit in the front row.
The show started up again, and Gallagher picked on another drunk girl in the front row on the other side of the audience. Eventually, she tried to come onstage for some terrible bit that Gallagher did, and nearly fell backwards down the steps. Gallagher then yelled, “I told you she was drunk”.
Next, of course, the drunken guy came back (great security at the Blender, I guess!), and of course came right down the center aisle and yelled, “Hey asshole, you made my girlfriend cry!” A huge bouncer then finally threw the guy out.
At this point a few other people left, but most were obviously waiting for him to start smashing stuff. Gallagher eventually did, but not until asking the audience members what time it was—he wanted to do a full two hours. The smashing was mildly entertaining, but it went very long and at this point the audience was basically just either tired, or in shock--kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Gallagher wasn’t melting down, so the audience didn’t feel any sympathy, he just is apparently bitter and just doesn’t care any more. He actually said at one point, “Hey I’m not a trained monkey in a cage for your entertainment”. Uh, yes, when you make your career smashing watermelons, you are.
Turns out, of course, that part of this disasterous show was caught on video: