Sunday, January 25, 2015

Maybe my favorite bad review

I've posted this before, years ago, but it's one of my all-time favorites.  Do you remember a comedian named Gallagher?  I think he's still around.  His basic act was smashing watermelons.  When he performed in Cerritos, California in 1999 the LA Times reviewed it.   The review was so hilarious and scathing I had to keep it.  And share it.   If you can imagine the thinking that could have produced such a staggeringly ill-conceived show, you laugh twice as hard.

And so, as a public service to anyone even thinking of attending an upcoming Gallagher show if he's still touring, here is this LA Times review.


Comedy: Promoted for Latinos, Gallagher's pseudo-Spanish show is a litany of degrading stereotypes and insults.By ALISA VALDES-RODRIGUEZ, Times Staff Writer

Hmm. How to put this delicately? We'll simplify: Mime-like, stringy-haired man in black hat smashes food with mallet on stage for living. Man, who no espeakey no Spanish, hears Spanish, thinks Spanish good, Spanish muy muy dinero. Man spends one month learning important Spanish words such as cerveza, caca and culo (butt). Man invents Spanish words, such as "sperm-o" and "embarazamante." Man decides this is enough Spanish to put on show for Latinos. Man smashes pinatas, wears giant sombrero and shakes keg-sized maracas. Man mocks Jews and gays and women and constipated old people. Man thinks he is muy funny comedian-o.

Man hopes all Spanish-speakers agree.
But wait. There's more. Mucho more.

Man rents hall in Cerritos. Man advertises "Gallagher en espanol: La Fiesta Grande" on Spanish radio. Man hopes thousands will come. Two hundred come, many with children and babies and old (possibly constipated) people. Man babbles for three hours Thursday night in "language" neither English nor Spanish. Language heretofore known as Gallagher-bonics. Next day, executive director of Cerritos Center for Performing Arts issues statement stressing that "Gallagher show was a rental event and not produced or presented by the Cerritos Center."

Man hires dance troupe to open show. Man performing for mostly Mexican American audience. Dance troupe, called Salsa Kids, performs Puerto Rican dance style. Male dancers wear guayaveras, the four-pocket shirts worn by old Cuban men in Miami. Mexican American audience appears unimpressed. Stone faces say: Ugh, bad medicine. "Is this like ballroom?" a woman in the audience asks. "My sister, she's taking that ballroom dancing."

Show goes on.

First nine rows of audience are in white plastic chairs. People in white plastic chairs equipped with clear plastic bag to wear over clothes because later mayonnaise and refried beans will spew over them. Signs warn: Cuidado, Piso Resbaloso. Wet floor. Man shoots water on audience from giant penguin after salsa dancers leave stage.

Other man named Vic Dunlop, a comedian hired to help because he supposedly speaks Espanol, takes stage. Dunlop wears Mexican blanket, sombrero and glasses with eyes painted on them. Makes jokes about black people and blind people in bad Spanish. Says show is sponsored by Culo Cola, the soda with the taste of an expletive. In audience, Debra Garcia, 50, is bored and thinks the show immature and plans to leave early.

Man appears with penguin and yells, "Como? Este hombre no esta en mi show. Vamanos."

Second assistant "comedian" who actually does speak Spanish comes on stage. Her name is Dyana Ortelli and she is Mexican American and makes a living mocking Jennifer Lopez's bottom, stereotyping Chicanos, and wearing bad wig and no pants. Ortelli helps man throw chocolate at crowd. Man says: "Quien no tengo chocolate?" Translation: Who I don't have chocolate? No one sure what he is saying.

Man introduces Chupacabras. Chupacabras is goat-sucking monster seen in Puerto Rico three years ago. Man in ape suit pretends to be goat-sucking monster. Man forces child onto stage with monster. Man asks: "Quien tiene mas pelo de Chupacabra?" Translation: Who has more hair of Chupacabras? Child makes disgusted face, jumps off stage. Ortelli looks sad. Man babbles about goat-sucker: "Es muy fuerze, es muy fuerza." Translation: Is very strength. No one laughs. Man frustrated. Tries to say "espectaculo," which means "show," but says "specta-culo," which sort of means butt-gazer.

Man calls for rock band. Fulano de Tal, from Miami, plays well. Man wears giant parachute dress and dances. Man spray-paints a lie on the back wall: Yo No Soy Gringo. Man says in Spanish that he is a cowboy. Man says he is newborn Mexican and caresses his naked hairy belly.

Man tells joke about bear and rabbit pooping.

Man gathers audience volunteers for Mexican hat dance. Says "Tengo un muchacha" over and over. No one laughs. Man says "Culo, culito" until people laugh. Man says "moco" for extra humor. Man is tired of trying. Man says in English "I need a beer." Man curses under breath off mike, but audience hears anyway.

Man begins dumping buckets of food onto plates. Man stops trying to speak Spanish. Man gives up and speaks English. Man says: "We were expecting a big crowd tonight and we're going to do a show for a big crowd anyway" because the crowd is small and shrinking. Man is booed again. Man yells: "It's the Fourth of July weekend, you don't got no place to go so just shut up." Man hits Pop Tarts with tennis racquet. Man says "Un muchacho quiero comer," which means "I want to eat a boy" and the boys look scared.

Many people who paid between $21.50 and $26.50 per ticket walk out as man flashes white underpants and yells culo, culo, culo and cerveza. Man angry Latinos have no sense of humor. Man throws egg and marshmallows at old woman and baby as they waddle out of theater. Man calls old woman vulgar name in English. Man spits beer on children. Some in audience too polite to leave. Others impolite enough to boo. One courageous enough to hurl a lunchbox-sized chunk of watermelon at man's head.

Man smashes food with 16-pound mallet. Man says, inexplicably, "Todo el mouthwash el hits me en el crotch-o." Man sings "La Cucaracha."

Man smashes more food. Show over. Man bows. Man slips on floor.


Scooter Schechtman said...

Shame. The celebrity on the maiden voyage of the North Haverbrook Monorail has fallen on hard times.

Mark said...

I never did find Gallagher funny and looked at those who did with bewilderment and disdain. This review is brutal.

Mike Botula said...

Is he or isn't he? Still smashing watermelons or tacos or even culos? Well, Ken, thanks to your "memory flogger" I Googled ol' Gallagher. And, guess what? He apparently is still out there, doing the comedy club circuit in upstate New York and vicinity. Check him out:
Remind me to put watermelons and a sledge hammer on my shopping list.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Sorry. When it comes to funny bad reviews, my favorite is and probably ever shall be Roger Ebert on Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo:


Ben Scripps said...

I thought Gallagher was hilarious, one of the funniest things I'd ever seen.

Then I turned nine.

BTW, I'm with Wendy; Ebert's review of "Deuce Bigalow" is pure gold, though Richard Roeper's borderline recommendation of "Jackass: The Movie" runs a close second: "God help me, thumbs up."

PlumTor said...

Unfortunately, Gallagher is coming to my hometown of Everett, WA in a few weeks. Might be a good time to head north to Vancouver BC for the weekend as we only live 8 blocks from the theater and I don't want to take the chance on getting sprayed with rotting watermelon.

Clarence Odbody said...

I once went to dinner at the home of Gallagher's sister. She was very nice, but she looked just like him.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Clarks: if he's in the northwest that's a bad omen he'll be in OR sometime soon, like at the 7 Feathers Casino. I heard some of his bits on the radio in the 80s and thought he might be a new Stephen Wright because of lines like "What would chairs look like if your knees bent the other way?" I was wrong-o.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Tears this morning. Tears!! Wonderfully funny. Reminds me of a run somewhere in Confederacy of Dunces.

Johnny Walker said...

Ouch. Don't forget the episode of WTF that Gallagher appeared on...

Spoiler: He walks out during the interview.


Johnny Walker said...

Wendy, that was also a great review. Thanks for sharing it!

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Yet another potential Friday question.

I've noticed on M*A*S*H that a few of Margaret's big episodes ("Hot Lips and Empty Arms," for example) were written by Linda Bloodworth & Mary Kay Place. Is it common among writing staffs for certain characters to be assigned to certain writers?

blinky said...

I would love to hear his take on Dane Cook.

Johnny Walker said...

@Joseph Scarbrough - Ken will probably answer you, but I've definitely heard writers talk about how they've found it easier to write for certain characters than others. As a showrunner it would make sense to match writers with their strongest characters as much as possible, and I'm pretty sure that's what Joss Whedon did on BUFFY, but, again, maybe Ken will elaborate.

Thomas Mossman said...

The show Mystery Science Theater 3000 would sometimes take shots at Gallagher for no obvious reason.

The story goes that when Joel Hodgson (the show's creator/original host) was doing his prop comedy act, he once came off stage and found Gallagher going through his prop trunk. Really bad form if it's true.

Frank said...

I wish that show was filmed as it sounded hilariously bad.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I had somehow failed to notice that Mary Kay Place wrote for MASH. I have admired her enormously ever since I first saw her in MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN - she's so multi-talented (acts, sings, writes...)

Got any interesting stuff to tell about working with her, Ken?


D. McEwan said...

Just saw Mary Kay Place on Law & Order: SVU this past week.

We had a term for Gallagher at The Comedy Store; the word was "Schmuck." Considering the some of the folks there we liked and got on well with, it tells you how little respect Gallagher got within the stand-up community. Now liked, not respected.

I'm just sorry to see that my friend, the late Vic Dunlop, was mixed up in this comedy abortion. Vic was a talented and very sweet man.

AndrewJ said...

"Gallagher! Only America could produce a comic who ends his show by destroying food with a sledgehammer. Gee, I wonder why we’re hated the world over." -- Bill Hicks

Guy Grand said...

Sorry Ken, but when it comes to hilariously vitriolic reviews, this is pretty weak beer compared to Frank Rich’s epic takedown of Moose Murders in The New York Times.

Kahn said...

Irony...Gallagher rated the 100th best standup of all time by Comedy Central. Gallagher complains the rating is too low.

This Gallagher (Leo) sued his brother (Ron) because Ron was putting on shows that may have led the audience to believe they were getting Leo, not Ron. Attendance at Ron's shows have gone up, since it has been made clear to prospective ticket buyers that they won't be seeing Leo.

D. McEwan said...

My favorite vitriolic review appeared back in the late 1960s in the LA Times. I forget which critic, but I've never forgotten the review. It said:

"There are three things you need to know about the production of Krapp's Last Tape that opened at the Player's Ring Theater last night.

1. It is not produced by the Player's Ring Theater (Professional), but by the Player's Ring Players (amateur).

2. Many of the performers - how to put this? - do not seem cut out for stage careers.

3. It costs you ten dollars to attend. For ten dollars you can buy a paperback copy of Krapp's Last Tape and a pizza, and have a swell evening at home."

John Mansfield said...

I remember when this Gallagher review appeared in the LA Times, and though I haven't seen it again until now or thought of Gallagher himself since, this review now and then churns back in my memory because the writing was just so, well, memorable. It is not at all surprising to find it reproduced here.

Tim Dunleavy said...

I remember back in 1990 or '91 when Jay Leno was guest hosting for Johnny Carson, and one night he said that a Soviet leader (I forget if it was Gorbachev or Yeltsin or somebody else) had announced that he would be doing a tour of the United States. Then Jay said "The bad news is, he's opening for Gallagher."

James Van Hise said...

I think Gallagher's star faded when he started inserting racial jokes in his act. Sort of like Ted Nugent does, like when he was doing a concert in Austin, Texas and even though at least 20 percent of the crowd was Latino, Nugent said things like, "Don't you wish they''d all go back to Mexico?" Except Gallagher's stuff was apparently worse.

Mark Murphy said...

Ken: Last month, Gallagher was in your old (and my lifelong) stomping grounds, Central New York -- please note the top item in this link.

Jeff Baldwin said...

The thing i now want most in this world is video of that show.

Anonymous said...

I read once many years lack that there was a Broadway production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" that was so horrible that when the Nazis entered to house, audience members yelled out, "She's in the attic!"