Friday, January 02, 2009

The Ballad of Ron Gallagher

If you're into cutting-edge comedy, you are no doubt familiar with the trailblazer known as Gallagher. If that name doesn't ring a bell, then allow me to deftly and with but a few bold strokes paint you a visual: he's the bald dude who sorta dresses like mime and smashes watermelons with a sledgehammer. And until Carrot Top's huge freckled arms wrested his crown away, he was the most popular prop comic ever.

And just in case I failed utterly in coaxing forth a visual from your addled brains, here he is (note: finding a nice establishing shot of this guy took about 7.8 times longer than you would think, because if you google "Gallagher" you mostly get pictures of the band Oasis):

And here is a description of his act, via wikipedia:

His signature sketch is the “Sledge-O-Matic,” a large wooden mallet that Gallagher uses to smash a variety of objects, including computer keyboards, containers of cottage cheese, cartons of chocolate milk tubes of toothpaste, pound cake ("I guess it does"), Big Macs, and, most famously, watermelons. Given the messy nature of this portion of his act, it is usually saved for the finale of his shows. Show attendees in the first two or three rows are usually provided with plastic sheeting for protection, and many fans bring their own additional protection (raincoats, umbrellas, and so on). Gallagher performs other prop-food gags including a demonstration of constipation using a jar of Jif peanut butter and an explanation of the difference between men and women using a sausage wrapped in a banana peel.

Can you imagine? The difference between men and women illustrated via a sausage wrapped in a banana peel? Stop - my side hurts!

So what, you say? How ballsy, picking on Gallagher? Normally you'd be right, and have senor Blogfoot at a loss. But not today. For keen readers will note that the title of this post is "The Ballad of Ron Gallagher." And the Gallagher we have been talking about is actually named Leo Gallagher. So what gives?

An epic tale of familial strife and betrayal to rival anything that ever leapt forth from Shakespeare's quill, that what gives.

You see, our famous comedian Leo Gallagher had a brother named Ron. Ron was unemployed. But one day Ron had an idea. And that idea was this (take it away, wikipedia):

At some point during the early 1990s, Gallagher’s younger brother Ron Gallagher asked Gallagher for permission to perform shows using Gallagher’s old routines, and also using Gallagher’s trademark Sledge-O-Matic routine. The idea was that Ron Gallagher, who was unemployed, would tour the country working small venues that couldn’t afford a show put on by Gallagher himself. Since Ron bears a strong familial resemblance to his older brother, the show would be almost like having a real Gallagher show.

Gallagher granted his blessing to his younger brother on the condition that Ron and his manager would make it clear in their promotional materials that it was Ron Gallagher, not Gallagher himself, that was putting on the show.

After a few years of complying with Gallagher’s conditions, Ron began blurring the line between his act and that of his brother. He would often promote his act as “Gallagher Too,” a moniker Gallagher felt was insufficiently informative. In some instances, Ron’s act was promoted in a way that provided no clue to prospective attendees that they were seeing someone other than Gallagher himself.

Gallagher initially attempted to get his brother to stop these activities by requesting that he stop using Gallagher’s well-known Sledge-O-Matic routine. These efforts proved futile, and Ron kept touring as “Gallagher Too” while using the Sledge-O-Matic routine his older brother had made famous. Consequently, in August 2000, Gallagher sued his brother for trademark violations and false advertising. The courts ultimately sided with Leo Gallagher, and an injunction was granted prohibiting Ron from performing any act that impersonates his brother in small clubs and venues.

During the lawsuit, all of Gallagher’s immediate family sided with Ron over the controversy. As a consequence, Gallagher is now estranged from his parents and siblings.

Wow. Now that my friends is what they call drama. Good ol' sturm and drang, doled out in fist-sized chunks. Just for comparisons sake, here is the real Gallagher:

And here is Ron (This picture was fairly hard to locate. Ron is apparently like Bigfoot, in that he he skillfully avoids being photographed):

You can see why the ploy worked. What would really be awesome is if Ron previously had no moustache, and in fact hated moustaches and thought they were dumb, but had to grow one in order to make coin off his brother.

I first read about this years ago, and somehow forgot about it. Then some co-workers and I were discussing Gallagher a couple of weeks ago and and a little research brought it all rushing back. Anyway - I'm sold. I want to make a movie about this saga. Even an "American Movie"-style documentary would be fine. I've already got the logo figured out. This could use some love, but the idea is basically this:

If you really wanted to get all conceptually crazy you could have the type sitting on a mass of pulped watermelon or something like that. Someone get going on refining that gem of an idea, and I'll look into camera rentals. At the very least we should be able to get a grant for a play out of this sordid tale.


EJ said...

No sure if this "grist" is up to normal Senor Blogfoot standards. I mean, giving the public a juicy view into the goings on for the C+ celeb list? Oh... wait. Well done sir.

Erin said...

I know the real Ron Gallagher very well....and you left Much out about the very interesting Drama that happened in the life of the Gallagher brothers!....

brent said...

do you really know Ron Gallagher? I must speak with you! It is of great importance to me to track this man down for a documentary project I am producing! How can I contact you?

Nick said...