Gallagher On WTF

Have you got an hour?

Nobody has an hour, not even prepubescents scheduled to the max by parents who believe if they don’t get into an Ivy League school their lives will be ruined.

But we’ve all got time for greatness.

I want you to listen to this podcast. Not because you care about Gallagher, not because I want to burnish Marc Maron’s image, but because it’s so damn riveting you won’t be able to turn it off and you won’t stop thinking about it when it’s done.

In case you were unborn in the eighties, during that era Gallagher was the biggest comic out there, he did fourteen specials on TV, famous for smashing watermelons, no one seemed to like him but he kept on getting bigger and bigger.

And who do we attribute this to?

Ken Kragen.

Ken seems to have been forgotten, but not only was he one of the biggest managers of the twentieth century, one has to ask whether his acts would have made it without him, because each and every one of them hit the skids when the relationship ended.

Yup, Ken built not only Kenny Rogers, but Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt and Gallagher. And each and every one of them fired him. Ah, maybe the ending was more complicated than that, but I’ve always believed they got sick of listening to Ken, they wanted to do it for themselves. But Ken had the vision, Ken smoothed the rough edges, without Ken, they were nothing. Well, barely more than nothing.

Ken found Gallagher and had him open for Kenny. That’s where Gallagher started, at least that’s what he says in this podcast. And I tend to believe most of what he says here, because he seems to have no idea how he comes across, that’s the mark of someone so enamored of his shtick that there’s no need to lie.

And the intro is almost interminable, with Maron apologizing for his behavior.

And then you start listening and want to cut Gallagher a break, he’s past his peak and he knows it. But then Gallagher becomes so self-satisfied, so obnoxious, that you turn on him.

It’s not that Gallagher’s stupid. He says how he used to be a chemist and he demonstrates more knowledge of science than I’m familiar with.

But he just can’t understand context.

And Gallagher didn’t want to do this podcast.

And neither did Maron.

It was Gallagher’s manager’s idea. You see managers don’t understand context either, they believe that all publicity is good publicity. Richard Lewis played Carnegie Hall and then his manager booked him at the Concord. Richard refused, said it wasn’t his audience. But after being convinced to do the gig, he bombed.

Artists know best.

And artists don’t appeal to everybody. That’s a fiction of the eighties, of the MTV era. You’ve got your own specialized audience, be proud of it.

Anyway, after you turn on Gallagher, Maron starts asking him questions and Gallagher becomes more and more standoffish. Rather than examine what Maron has to say, he just dismisses it, waves off most of comedy with one hand, saying he knows the way since he’s been in the game for thirty years. Reminds me of nothing so much as the major label infrastructure putting down the Internet upstarts.

But you’ve really got to give credit to Marc here. Unlike bending over backward in the introduction, cutting Gallagher a break, he does not do this during the interview. He stands his ground. He goes deeper. Instead of letting Gallagher off the hook, he keeps exploring.

This is so different from today’s celebrity journalism it’s eye-popping. It’s an unspoken rule…I provide access to my act and you play nice. You can’t ask about this and you can’t ask about that. And if you stumble upon a problem, if my artist looks bad, you’ve got to back off, you’ve got to make it right.

I don’t care if you know nothing about comedy, if you don’t give a whit about Gallagher. This podcast is dangerous theatre that just cannot be denied. Listen.

P.S. Although Maron tells a fascinating story about approaching an icon to do his podcast who refuses, based on prior bad treatment of him by Marc, you can start right in with the Gallagher interview by fast-forwarding to 13:30.

One Response to Gallagher On WTF


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  1. […] recent Lefzetz letter took on the topic of Marc Maron’s now infamous Gallagher episode of WTF?. It caused some […]

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  1. […] recent Lefzetz letter took on the topic of Marc Maron’s now infamous Gallagher episode of WTF?. It caused some […]

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