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Hey, c'mon, it's Gallagher; things will get messy.

Byline: Carolyn Lamberson The Register-Guard

When the comedian Gallagher called last week, it was really raining in Los Angeles, yet actually dry and sunny here in Eugene.

"Looks like I'll be coming to Eugene to dry out," he said. "Now that's funny."

For the guy best known for pulverizing fruit, it's not hard to find humor in everyday things such as the weather. Politics, the economy, piercing, tattoos, kids with baggy pants, traffic, obnoxious cell phone users, the loss of American jobs - it's all fodder for Gallagher's observations.

`Everything is in my crosshairs, and it all needs to be commented on,' he said.

Eugene fans will get a chance to see it for themselves when Gallagher's Wet and Wild tour makes a stop tonight at the Hult Center.

The fans just may find themselves in the thick of things, too. On this tour, there's room for some audience participation, he said.

At first, he'll bring folks up if it's their birthday or anniversary and they'd like to smash a cake to mark the occasion. Then, he just may let them take a whack at something with the Sledge-O-Matic.

It's the same Sledge-O-Matic he's been using since the early '80s, when he rose to stardom with the help of cable television specials.

`They all want to have the original hammer,' he said. "It's one of those things that when you lay down to die, you can look back at your life and say, `I went to a Gallagher show and used the big hammer.'

`The handle broke, but I glued it back together. It'll be there. They all want that one.'

Engineering a career

And after more than 20 years as a professional smasher, and as a guy with a degree in engineering from the University of South Florida, he has a good idea of what smashes well and what doesn't.

He can talk about the head speed of the sledge hammer and how that affects the food's trajectory. He's learned, for example, that food placed in a wok and then smashed will explode out of the wok at a nice, 45-degree angle.

With pie, for example, he thinks of it as a food bomb. It's best to "have a gooey center and surround it with shrapnel ... little pieces that fly good aerodynamically."

It's the little pieces, he's found, that make for the messiest shows.

`Potato salad is a perfect explosive, or cole slaw, or fruit Jell-O, because it has the pieces already in it,' Gallagher said.

He can wax poetic about the virtues of flying mayonnaise (`the best accelerant') or really gloppy mashed potatoes. Mustard stings when it lands on you, and Gallagher's had to stop smashing peppers altogether.

"They actually blinded me. I kinda have to be able to see," he said. `People kind of forget I'm just an arm's length from this stuff."

This not silent comedy

While Gallagher and his Sledge-O-Matic are mightily feared among the world's melons, his show is more than smashing up fruit and other gooey edibles. It's the talking before the smashing that is most interesting to Gallagher.

He was dismayed, he said, that in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses last year there was a resounding silence on appliance plant closures in the state.

`I thought it was depressing that nine candidates for president were not really seeing the problem, but a comedian was," he said, later adding that these days, comedians are the only people out there who can talk out about issues because they're the only ones not constrained by corporate ties.

His humor, however, won't always be so deep. In fact, he's apt to drop a few one liners: `Why do they call it NetZero when it costs $9.95?' or, "Why do they call it underwear when I can see it?'

One day, Gallagher would like to do a show that doesn't involve smashing things. But he suspects his audience would rebel.

Developing this schtick, he said, `It was the best thing and the worst thing. But my audience is smart. They know we'll laugh really big for two hours and then we'll be smashing things."



When: 8 p.m. today

Where: Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center, Seventh Avenue and Willamette Street

Tickets: $22 to $30, through Hult Center box office, 682-5000


Gallagher and his Sledge-O-Matic will spread cheer - and plenty of pulverized fruit - into the Hult Center audience tonight. `Potato salad is a perfect explosive, or cole slaw, or fruit Jell-O, because it has the pieces already in it. ... (Mayonnaise is) the best accelerant.' - GALLAGHER, ON WHAT MAKES A GOOD `FOOD BOMB'
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; But after 20 years of mash notes, the comic points out that he's got more than a Big Schtick
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 7, 2005
Previous Article:Which niche for Furtado?

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