Veteran comedian Gallagher is bringing his "The Joke's on You Comedy Tour" to the Dosey Doe Big Barn in The Woodlands for one show on Saturday, January 13. He's played the Big Barn before, twice. He's played a lot of places twice, three, and four and more times.
"I do about one hundred shows a year, and I've been doing this for forty years, so it's pretty easy — four thousand shows," Gallagher says.
Let's extend that math equation: "I smash four watermelons a night, so that's sixteen thousand melons."
It is undeniably a classic, stupid, and wonderful bit of American comedy. Somewhere, on a Saturday afternoon, Gallagher is visiting a supermarket, buying watermelons to smash onstage with his mighty Sledge-0-Matic mallet. (Don't worry, watermelons from Mexico are available all winter.)
Warning to the audience: cover up! Or you'll be picking pieces of watermelon out of your hair all the way home.
Gallagher, tell me everything about smashing watermelons onstage. Who thinks of making a show business career out of pummeling produce?
"It was New Year's Eve back in the '70s, and I was performing at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. I had a joke in my act where I threatened to bring a watermelon onstage and smash it. It was just a joke, just a threat. I would say to the audience, 'It's up to you if I do it.'
"There happened to be a supermarket close by the club. I walked down there and bought a watermelon. I thought, I'll do my show and I'll really bring one on the stage. It'll be funny. It was New Year's Eve, we were all drinking, and I smashed that watermelon.
"The next morning, I got a call from Mitzi Shore, the owner of the Comedy Store. She asked if I was going to smash a watermelon again that night. I said no, it was just a one time thing for New Year's Eve. She said, 'Well, you better, we're sold out!" That was the beginning. Since then, every night is New Year's Eve."
If you've never seen Gallagher perform live, his show is much more than a Sledge-o-Matic food propulsion lab. He talks and tells jokes, with lots of wordplay, for a good hour before the first piece grocery achieves liftoff. Gallagher is very clever, with plenty of smarts. He was a chemist before going into comedy full-time. He will make you think first, duck later.
Gallagher doesn't only pummel watermelons, oh no, if a supermarket sells it, he'll destroy it. Clean up on Aisle 6 — and come Saturday night, at the Dosey Doe Big Barn.
When you smash a watermelon, how far does the smush travel into the audience?
Dosey Doe's Big Barn is an intimate dinner theater; it doesn't go back far enough to have a Row M. So no matter where you sit, be prepared to be pelted by flying food shrapnel.
Watermelons are clearly his showstopper, but what other foods are guaranteed to have the audience diving for cover?
"Cottage cheese! But you'll get all of my greatest hits Saturday night. I smash corn to get a nice yellow color. Rice works, as long as you put mashed potatoes in the middle to propel the rice. Beans cut through the air really well."
Also on his hit list: pineapples, apples, cantaloupes, milk gallons, liquid soap, and plastic ketchup bottles.
"I want people to say, 'Wow, that went farther than I expected.' I want them to laugh harder than they've ever laughed in their lives."
Tickets for Gallagher's show are $78 to $128 — depending on how close you sit to the stage. (You think Shamu has a Splash Zone?) Each ticket comes with a clear plastic poncho for protection, and a three-course dinner, which is served from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. You can't go wrong with their house special "Ginormous Chicken-Fried Steak." There's also a chicken or seafood and vegetarian entrée.
Show starts at 8:30 pm. Dosey Doe Big Barn is located at 25911 I-45 in The Woodlands. Visit their site for tickets and more information.