Interview With Gallagher, Part Two

August 28th, 2008 | Interviews, San Francisco Comedy

by Sean Keane

Best known for his “Sledge-o-Matic” sketch, Gallagher has been performing comedy for over 25 years. This weekend at Pepper Belly’s, Gallagher plans to shower the audience with social and political commentary, along with chunks of pulverized watermelon.

@ Pepper Belly’s
8/28-8/31

(Read Part One)

SF Standup logo A few years ago you ran for governor of California [Gallagher placed 16th out of 135 candidates]. What would you have done if you’d won that election and become governor?

Gallagher: I would have them sing the national anthem in Spanish before basketball and baseball games so the Spanish people would not be bored, and they would know the story of our flag. [Ed: Here, Gallagher sings the first part of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish]

I translated it and I wanted Gloria Estefan and her husband to take that project and make it come alive. I think to have a Spanish party before the game would be great. And don’t sing, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Sing, “O’er the field.” “El campo de libre y el equipo de los valientes”. And the *team* of the valiant. Because that’s when your team comes running out onto the field. And that would be a lot of fun.

And the second thing was to use helicopters to clear the freeway so that we can be sure that we can evacuate our citizens in the case of a terrorist biological or nuclear device. It’s imperative that the freeways remain open. I think that helicopters are a vital part of a security plan for America. We should not have a Department of Homeland Security and not have a better plan than, “Everyone hit the freeway and hope for the best.” That did not work when the storm came ashore in New Orleans. They all sat there, ran out of gas, and would have been dead if it had been just a puff of anthrax.

SF Standup logo And can a helicopter pick up a car? I just don’t know the physics of it.

We have heavy lift helicopters that we use in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most major cities are near a base of some sort, whether it’s Marine or Air Force, and they could practice on the highways every day. It’s so stupid for the radio stations to send a tiny helicopter out to tell where the problem is, and not fix the problem. Instead, three helicopters from three different stations come out. There’s three inadequate machines, instead of one big machine. And what the hell good does it do to tell over the radio? The people at home aren’t there, and the ones who are on the road notice there’s a backup, and bail on the exit. Who is that report really for?

Anyway, go on my website, you can see a video where I demonstrate how to come back down the cable from a helicopter, wrap it around a car, and slide that car out of there in a minute and a half.

SF Standup logo You actually do that yourself?

Yeah. I rented a helicopter, bought a wrecked car, and demonstrated how to do it. I had to go all the way to Idaho because there were fires in California, and all of the helicopters were being used for fires. I love the Internet because I can prove my point.

SF Standup logo Can I ask you about a few of your other Internet projects? The most recent one I saw was “Uncle Earth”, where you paint your face to look like Earth. It’s mostly blue, but you’ve got some volcanoes and other landforms. So, it’s all short films that you can download for 49 cents, and the proceeds go to Greenpeace?

Yes. What a great idea. And nobody cares.

SF Standup logo How did that come about?

I wanted to be part of Earth Day, and I thought, I’ll speak out for the Earth. I didn’t want to have land on my face because that would be confusing. I liked the idea of my nose being a volcano and the rest of me being water. So I did some little jokes, and spoke out as the Earth, with the stars behind me, and I thought, this will be fun. I told all the TV and radio stations across the country in an email about it, and it was never picked up. No one even used it as a funny thing on the news for Earth Day. I can’t believe it! I’m sure if one of these other celebrities that everyone pays attention to – and who doesn’t have a fucking idea in their head about anything serious – were to do it, they’d all pay attention. It’s so frustrating. Because I used to be famous, and what I did would have gotten attention. Now when I’m serious about what I’m saying, I’m not famous.

I just watched a show about the dropping of the atomic bomb, and the pilot of the Enola Gay said, “If we ever lose our advantage in technology, we will be at danger again.” And this is what we’ve done when we canceled the supercollider. And now the French are doing the most cutting-edge subatomic research on the planet, and they’re not our friends.

SF Standup logo They opened a new project over there about a week ago, I believe.

It’s called the Large Hadron Collider. You see, I am a chemist. I studied subatomic particle physics. I met recently with the physics department at Georgia Tech. I want to make the subatomic particles into Pokemon cards so the kids can learn something when they play, instead of meaningless Japanese characters.

SF Standup logo Make it educational.

I have a number of wonderful ideas. I know they’re good ideas, but I’m not getting anywhere with them. I’d like to talk to George Lucas about that. I talked to Steve Wozniak about it, and he said it was a good idea. Then he said, “Ooh, I’m getting hundreds of emails! I can’t talk.” What’s the point of taking emails unless you can make a connection with someone that would be meaningful?

You know, Wozniak invented the video game – or, he was able to change the architecture of the chip so they weren’t as expensive. This needs to *be* a video game. I also have a patent on the new generation of slot machines. Kids that are playing video games today are going to be bored to death by what IGT – International Game Technology – has on the floor of the casinos. It’s almost archaic.

SF Standup logo Pulling levers?

No, you push a button. And when you push the button, the video screen imitates the rollers of a mechanical machine. Why in the hell would you watch a video of a machine instead of a video where the icons move? You see, if Gallagher’s watermelons are coming to the pay line, they should either bounce, break in half, or burst into many pieces. And you’re a winner when what happens matches. Not the fact that three watermelons are there, but that the action when they hit the line matches. I changed the rules a little bit, but it doesn’t matter, because when you touch the button, a random number generator chip chooses whether or not you’re a winner. What happens on the screen is meaningless, so why not make that more entertaining?

I’m trying to get Caesar’s to take my call, or MGM, or Boyd Gaming, and I can’t get anywhere with them. IGT is the problem. They’ll take my idea, and put it on the shelf, because it makes all of their machines obsolete.

SF Standup logo They’ll buy it to keep the competition off, basically.

They don’t care if people aren’t entertained. I’m trying to make this a better, funner world.

SF Standup logo You’ve also got something on your site called “Man Tones”.

It’s embarrassing when a guy has a sissy song when his phone rings. So I put farts and motorcycle [ring tones] on my website.

SF Standup logo What’s your ring tone right now? Would you have Burps n’ Farts on your own phone?

Yes. I want people to laugh!

SF Standup logo Is “Dance Pyramid” still happening?

I’m developing that. I’m trying to get to Coca-Cola. They’re actually right across the street from Georgia Tech, but they’re real hard to get to. I think this is a wonderful project for them to develop.

SF Standup logo And Dance Pyramid is kind of like YouTube, but you can vote on people’s dancing?

Yes, and you can work your way up the Pyramid. Also, you can choose where you want to compete. If you want to compete with the dancers in South Philly, you just enter the South Philly area, and try to work up their Pyramid. Or if you want to be in Vegas, then you do Vegas.

I think it uses the computer for what the computer is all about. Kids are interested in dance, and they like a competition, and they’d love to be proud and tell people how high they rank. It’s a fun thing to do. I think the computer is in search of ideas. It’s a medium without producers right now. It needs creative people like myself and other television producers.

I think George Lucas needs to look at that. Also Steve Jobs. And Steven Spielberg. All of them guys should meet with me. I can’t believe they’re not doing it.

SF Standup logo So, for Dance Pyramid, you’re waiting for a partner before launching anything.

Yes. And SmashMyFace, too.

SF Standup logo Now, for SmashMyFace, if I understand this right, you put up someone’s picture, and SmashMyFace lets you deface it by putting gum in their hair, or making it look like they’ve been beat up, and then you can send it to a cell phone?

You show the person who’s pissed you off, on your phone, what you’d like to do to them, immediately. It’s the same as Sledge-o-Matic. It releases tension and aggression. Say you’re standing in line, and the person at the counter has pissed you off. You walk up, take their picture, get back in line, mutilate their face, and when it’s your turn, you show them what you’d like to do to them. There’s a lot of money in hatred.

SF Standup logo You used to study subatomic particles, and you’re a chemist. Do you think that scientific background informed your approach to comedy?

As a scientist, I analyze people’s behavior, without being concerned with what they think about it.

SF Standup logo These Pepper Belly’s shows will have the Sledge-o-matic, so should people bring their raincoats?

I’d wear some old clothes, and then sell them on the internet.

SF Standup logo Besides watermelons, what’s your favorite thing to smash?

Mustard.

SF Standup logo It would have been great if you’d said, “people’s expectations.”

I’m always funnier than they thought I would be, the shows are more fun than they thought it would be, and they get their money’s worth.

SF Standup logo Final question, do you have any advice for young comics?

Work. The more you work, the better you get. Take any job you can get. Any time you get in front of an audience, you grow as an artist. Don’t worry about the money; get on stage. And try new things. You’ll never get anywhere just sticking with your routine.

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