Is it really funny to smash fruit? For this comedian, it became a signature part of his routine: Gallagher.
Starting his career as a traditional stand-up comedian, Leo Gallagher first worked for fellow comedian/singer Jim Stafford as a road manager.
Trying his hand on stage, Gallagher frequented The Comedy Store and The Ice House in Los Angeles.
But it was his unique way of drawing attention by smashing fruit, especially watermelons, during his routine that made him famous.
Named the Gallagher Sledge-O-Matic, the comedian would take a large mallet and smash the fruit into pieces.
This was a parody of Ronco’s Veg-O-Matic, a kitchen appliance that was advertised on American television as the perfect cook’s accessory.
His zany antics became popular with the public, who thought his Sledge-O-Matic was hilarious. Hosts like David Letterman thought it was hilarious and soon adopted his own version of food destruction by dropping watermelons off the side of a low-rise building.
Meanwhile Johnny Carson wasn’t a fan of this kind of comedy and wouldn’t have Gallagher on The Tonight Show – eventually his popularity got him on the show, but when Carson was absent.
Gallagher soon started making television specials for Showtime, with his first produced/directed by Mike Nesmith, formerly of The Monkees.
Throughout the 1980s, Gallagher would appear on various television shows and specials, with the Sledge-O-Matic not far behind. I never quite understood the thrill of watching fruit getting pulverized in between a few jokes, but I seemed to be in the minority.