America has lost its beloved watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher. The comedian died in Palm Springs early Friday morning according to his manager, who told TMZ the 76-year-old had suffered massive organ failure.
Leo Gallagher, a prop comedian whose big break came in 1975 on The Tonight Show even though Johnny Carson wasn’t a fan of prop comedy, is best known as the inventor of the badass Sledge-O-Matic mallet he used to destroy fruits and vegetables as fans laughed while shards of watermelon flew at their heads.
“Ladies and gentlemen! I did not come here tonight just to make you laugh. I came here to sell you something and I want you to pay particular attention!,” Gallagher would tell his audiences before bringing out his trusty sledge.
“The amazing Master Tool Corporation, a subsidiary of Fly-By-Night Industries, has entrusted who? Me! To show you! The handiest and the dandiest kitchen tool you’ve ever seen. And don’t you wanna know how it works!?
“Well first you get out an ordinary apple. You place the apple between the patented pans. Then you reach for the tool that is not a slicer, is not a dicer, is not chopper in a hopper! What in the hell could it possibly be?! The Sledge-O-Matic!”
And with that, the fruit and vegetable section of a local supermarket was smashed to pieces and an American icon of his generation had himself another successful night of pleasing fans.
Gallagher’s timing with prop comedy couldn’t have been any better. Showtime, desperate for content that would lead to subscribers, came calling. By the time the Gallagher prop comedy era had run dry, he had 14 Showtime performances and a spot on Comedy Central’s Top 100 comedians of all-time.
During a 2012 radio appearance, Gallagher claimed he had lost most of his money trading stocks and was trying to pitch slot machine software. “I think I could be rich all over again,” he told the show hosts.
But Gallagher’s demise seems to have been exaggerated.
While age had caught up to him and swinging a sledge-o-matic for the fans became hard work, Gallagher was still going strong as of October when he performed his first show in over two years due to Covid and a broken hip.
“Come talk to me about my projects to make this world a ‘funner planet,'” he told his fans.
Your job here is done, sir.
Thanks for all the laughs. We all need to take it from here.