Gallagher, famous for letting out his anger on watermelons, lit up a room of mostly middle-aged white folks cloaked in plastic last night at the Seminole Casino. Though most people seemed amused, let's just say, it'd be hard to imagine sitting through a dinner with the guy.
For a progressive woman with OCD, let's just say the show wasn't my cup of tea. Walking into a room where goggles and plastic sheaths are worn to avoid flying food objects is an actual nightmare. It was like Dexter's workroom, but with things you could possibly eat instead of body parts. The chandeliers even wore ponchos.
Though it'd be sort of pompous to call Gallagher an actual bigot, let's
just say, it was more than a challenge for me to even get his knocks on
gays, blacks, Mexicans, Jews, and women. I got the ones about Lisa
Gallagher's jokes often play on white man's stereotypes. Not the white men I grew up with, but the stereotypical "white man" -- which adds irony to the whole scenario.
Though he's been accused of paranoia, homophobia, and racism, who knows, outside his act, he actually is any of these things. He clearly panders to a hetero-white audience. The Broward crowd wasn't necessarily typical. He told Marc Maron on his show WTF, "There's no blacks in my audience. Not one."
But there were more than a handful of black people in the plastic tent pitched in front of the bingo hall. I didn't hear any of them laughing, but, it's possible they did. The white people were chuckling their asses off at jokes like, "There's no Mexicans with this ticket price. They'll be here to clean up later." I believe the tickets were $10. And Mexicans? This is Miami, not Southern California. If you're going to be prejudiced, make your degrading remarks regionally relevant.
It's pretty clear that Gallagher isn't pleased with the way things in are going in this country. He's pretty pissed, at well, everything. According to him, "We've," as a nation, "lost definition." He claimed, "You think I'm telling jokes, I'm just telling America."
Barack Obama -- America's president -- is a problem for him. I half heard, half blocked out, a joke about how we shouldn't trust him, a "half-black guy," because "it worked so well with Tiger Woods." It was a haze of uncomfortableness. He said something about the president being a terrorist, "there's a BOM in his name." Oh, and didn't you know, "Oprah picked him!"
Apparently, "America is made of shades of gray" and these gray shades make Gallagher uncomfortable. What are they? I still don't get it. People whose genders are unclear. That really bothers the guy.
Sounding incredibly small-minded at the beginning of a gender-bending bit, he then turns the joke into a crotchety old person's commentary, blaming sexually ambiguity on sexually ambiguous names (we all remember Pat and Chris from SNL). Gallagher asks to bring back the name Betty. Betty. Like that's going to get rid of anyone's sexual identity questions. Purely old man talk.
The fart and Jesus jokes were acceptable. When talking about the heart attack he suffered earlier this year onstage, "I couldn't tell if I was going to die or needed to fart." That's something everyone can relate to. Other things discussed made my skin crawl, including Ted Kennedy's brain cancer, Hurricane Katrina ("They didn't know how to get out of the way."), how "gay" French is, complementing the audience on how smart this one is compared to other audiences in an attempt to get us to like him trust him, the idea that he was educating us on how to think after hearing his act, saying "You'll be a detective, find your own truths," but meaning now we've got his to work with.
He brought a scantily clad girl onstage and made her eat what he said was dog food out of a dog food bowl, said she was "asking for it," because of her tattoos and coochie cutters. He took a taste first, then she did, turns out it wasn't dog food. Sure, she looked like a stripper, but it seemed to get old G. looking randy. And dog food? Guess Gallagher's not making it to Miami's Slutwalk.
He's primarily known as a prop comedian. When Gallagher wanted to show us what a real man has in his pants, he pulled out a banana which he peeled to reveal a hot dog, "I'm Representative Weiner. Tweet me!" He said. At least he reads the paper, though the Lewinsky jokes made it seem he was also still reading the paper from 1998.
The racist and homophobic jokes sort of tapered off toward the middle. He started to mix together things he'd be smashing later, including Rice Krispies, corn, mustard, ketchup, cottage cheese, beans... you get it. The audience started to giggle with excitement. Then he went back to his routine, some innocuous jokes about Jesus, the white laughter filled the tent. Then back to the mixing of food products that would soon be on your poncho. The audience tingling with anticipation.
Finally, he hit the shit. Food particles flew everywhere. The sound of the mallet hitting things at first was like a super PTSD trigger, but then, everyone got into it and a bunch of people went up and smashed their own watermelons.
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As I edged out the door and watched Gallagher take his shirt off in response to an enthusiastic black lady removing her poncho before swinging the mallet, it was clear that this guy is like so many people out there: aging, confused by a changing world, defensive in the face of change, and really psyched to smash stuff.
Liz Tracy holds a master's degree in religion from Florida State University. She has written for publications such as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Ocean Drive. She spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor and is currently the managing editor of Tom Tom Magazine.