If you’re of a certain age, you might remember a time when “prop” comedy wasn’t frowned upon. Long before the days of Carrot Top, a comedian named Gallagher made a fortune smashing watermelons with a hammer, and sadly, the one-time headliner has passed away at seventy-six. If you’re a comedy fan, you’ll know that Gallagher’s reputation hasn’t been great in recent years, as he stormed out of an interview on Marc Maron‘s WTF podcast when he was challenged on some of his material (leading to one of the podcast’s greatest lines: “Oh, come on, Gallagher!”).
Leo Gallagher was all the rage in his younger days when he appeared The Tonight Show several times, despite Johnny Carson’s rumored aversion to prop humor. Later in his career, Gallagher ended up in a vicious legal battle with his brother, Ron Gallagher, who performed under the name “Gallagher Too”. The legal Gallagher initially allowed his brother to use his material, including the famous “Sledge-O-Matic” bit, but eventually the audience became confused as to who was the real deal, leading to a lawsuit. For the record, the “Sledge-O-Matic” routine involved Gallagher destroying watermelons with clubs. Although it wasn’t high art, audiences in the seventies and eighties found it fun.
According to People, Gallagher had been in poor health recently and died of multiple organ failure. He had been touring regularly until the pandemic, and Paul F. Thompkins memorably played him recently Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.
Although his sense of humor may seem a bit old fashioned, it cannot be denied that in his prime he made a whole lot of people laugh. In 2004, Comedy Central named him the 100th Greatest Comedian of All Time.
Do you have fond memories of Gallagher? Tell us in the comments!