On Friday night, I crawled through a crack in the space-time continuum, put on a plastic garbage bag, and went to see Gallagher—the comedian who smashes watermelons with a giant sledgehammer.
Actually, I didn't go back in time, I just went to the Blender Theater here in New York, but honestly the show was such a throwback that there might as well have been a wormhole or time machine involved.
How much of a throwback? Well, Gallagher used the word "Oriental," and not to describe a rug. He also used the word "sissy" on several occasions—as in "Chris? That's a sissy name. That's the problem with America these days, all the boys have sissy names, blah blah blah." I'm paraphrasing, because at the show my mind was too busy thinking, "When is he going to stop saying these things?" and "If I get up to leave, will he throw canned pumpkin at me?" and "Why am I wearing a plastic bag to hear this man rail against 'kids who wear their pants too low' and 'homosexuals'? To keep the terrible humor and homophobia off of me?" to pay attention to exactly what Gallagher was telling the audience was wrong with 'merica.
The show started off kind of okay—and by that I mean entertainingly angry. Around 9pm, an obviously bitter Gallagher took the stage and informed the audience that he had only been able to sell 200 tickets to the show, so the Theater booked an opening act who managed to get 100 people to buy tickets to see them. The name of this opening act—a quartet of stand-up comedians whose jokes sounded as if they had been sealed in Tupperware in 1993, and then delivered to the theater right before show time for premium freshness—was "Aspiring Tyrants." The highlight of their performance was a joke about how hard ice cream cakes are. Coincidentally, that was also the lowlight. Weird! Put simply, they weren't very funny and collectively they were on stage for an hour, punctuated at regular intervals by Gallagher's onstage—yes, onstage—heckling. At one point, Gallagher commandeered one of the performers' routine, and forced him to act out a "bear shitting in the woods" joke. At another point, Gallagher took off his shirt, put on a zany jester's hat, and defiantly stood with his arms crossed about a foot away from the comic as the comic performed—almost taunting the comic with his props (zany hat, hilariously old man-breasts). The opening act ended with all four comics taking the stage again to take a group photo. Clearly, this show could only get better/worse.
And it did. Also, it got much sadder. When Gallagher took the stage at a little after 10pm, the audience was more than ready for him to smash some shit. You could tell, because someone shouted: "Stop talking and just smash some shit!" However, Gallagher—like a one-hit-wonder band who will go through their entire catalog before playing the hit—was not ready to smash. He was ready to tell jokes about the funny things that God does and how all the French words in the English language are turning us all into "sissies" for a while. Though, about halfway through his routine, he did pull a hot dog wrapped in a banana peel from his pocket—a gag that only made me think, "He's had that banana-dog sitting sadly in his pocket for twenty-five minutes?"
At this point, people were starting to get (more) restless. So, Gallagher started fighting with the audience. There was a drunk couple in the front row who were apparently—I didn't hear them—talking a little too loud, and so Gallagher berated them until they left. That took about 20 minutes. Then they came back. Miraculously, there is footage of that below:
After that, Gallagher prepared some things to smash—pie dishes full of combinations of mashed potatoes, corn, applesauce, strawberry syrup, cactus ("Mexicans love this. They put it in everything."), jello, "Mexican jello," watermelon, etc. There was one dish full of sauerkraut that Gallagher keenly observed shouldn't be put next to the dish full of matzoh balls—because the sauerkraut, you see, is German, and the Matzoh balls…
Then he smashed things with the giant sledgehammer. Everything splashed all over. Everyone left feeling very, very dirty in multiple ways.