Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. (July 24, 1946 – November 11, 2022) was an American stand-up comedian famous for Smashing Watermelons with a huge hammer. He emerged as a popular comedy performer in the The '80s, making numerous appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where his acts typically consisted of observational humor, invented sports (such as "synchronized Ping-Pong"), some political commentary, and wrapping his act up with his trademark bit, smashing a large watermelon (and other mess-inducing fruits and products) with a massive hammer dubbed the "Sledge-O-Matic," with such force that audiences in the front row were typically at risk of being showered in the resulting debris. Ultimately and unfortunately, his signature act ended up overshadowing even him, gaining far more fame than his comedy routines ever did.
As his career wore on into the new millenium, his health began to decline as he began to develop cardiac issues, culminating in 2011 when he collapsed during a performance, requiring him to be rushed to the hospital. While he continued to perform after this, he notably had to tone down his act, to the point of asking someone from the audience to carry out his trademark watermelon smash in his place. He would continue to tour into the 2010's, ultimately stopping when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit full-swing. Unfortunately, he would not be able to resume his career afterwards, passing away in November of 2022 while in hospice care.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: 1984's Melon Crazy has a 20-minute long guest spot by comedian Bill Kirchenbauer. He and Gallagher also had an early version of a Whose Line Is It Anyway? 'Props' routine.
- Arch-Enemy: Allegedly Joel Hodgson, who caught him rifling through his props for new ideas, and insulting Hodgson for just using props for the sake of using props.
- Audience Participation: After his heart attack, he usually brought people from the audience up to smash things instead of doing it himself.
- Covered in Gunge: The audience of any of his shows. People used to bring ponchos, garbage bags, etc. to his performances because they knew they'd wind up covered in applesauce, water, chocolate syrup, watermelon glop, and everything else he could smash.You're quite correct to have your plastic sheets up at this time.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- His early TV specials featured Sledge-O-Matic as just another weird stunt instead of the Grand Finale, and frequently included things like roller skating stunts, song and dance routines, and erotic balloon animals.
- 1981's Mad as Hell special omits Sledge-O-Matic entirely.
- 1982's That's Stupid was a series of sketches where Gallagher examines stupid things in and around his suburban LA home.
- Erudite Stoner:
- "I don't experiment with drugs. I'm into full-scale research."
- Explaining some of his new, big-budget props: "That's right folks, I finally make more money than I can smoke."
- "I went through the metal detector at the airport the other day, and it didn't go 'ding' because weed ain't metallic."
- Eye Scream:
- In his Messing Up Texas special he smashes a pie pan full of mustard that sprays into his eyes, leaving him so debilitated he has to solicit volunteers from the audience to wield Sledge-O-Matic.
- The same thing happens with mouthwash in his 'Sledge-O-Matic.com' special.
- Infomercial: Parodied.Ladies and gentlemen! I didn't come here to make you laugh, I came here to sell you something! I want you to pay particular attention! The amazing Mastertool Corporation, a subsidiary of Fly-By-Night Industries, has entrusted who - me! - to show you the handiest and the dandiest kitchen tool you've ever seen, and don't you want to know how it works?!
- Insane Troll Logic: A huge part of his routine was pointing these out in everyday life."How come it is that when you write a check that bounces, the bank charges you more of what they know you don't have any of?""I saw a smoke detector the other day with a guarantee. Why? If it doesn't work, what's left?""Then you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway. Cargo goes by ship, a shipment goes by truck, you have a pair of panties but just one bra."
- Heart Trauma: Due to a heart condition, he had retired from performing for a while. He went on a national comedy tour ("The Joke's on You" tour) in 2017.
- Last-Name Basis/Only One Name
- Only in Florida: Gallagher was born in North Carolina, but guess where he grew up?
- Precision F-Strike From "Stuck in the Sixties":In the modern kitchen there is the standard ruleThat for every kitchen task, you must have the proper toolSo we have your corers, your borers, your graters, your shreddersYour hashers, your mashers, your hammers and frammersYour mailers and tailors, corkscrewers and skewers,That your knifesy wives and dishwashing daughtersWill find in the depths of your dirty dishwaterBut do you want all that shit in your drawers?
- Spectator Casualty: Downplayed; the front rows of at least some of his shows had plastic sheeting for the audience to pull over their heads when things got ... messy. It didn't work very well (see Covered in Gunge, above).
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: His younger brother Ron Gallagher actually had a minor career touring, entertaining, and Sledge-O-Maticing as 'Gallagher Too'. Yes, The '80s were a weird decade.