The Bad Seed

You'd think your own brother wouldn't bust your watermelon.

Produce-pulverizing comedian Gallagher didn't have a problem with his younger brother, Ron, touring as a Gallagher impersonator, as long as Ron didn't perform Gallagher's signature move: smashing watermelons with a sledgehammer at the end of the show.

But things got messy quickly. Ron smashed the watermelon. Ron advertised his shows as "Gallagher II" and used Gallagher I's trademarked logo. The public got confused, and the real (Glenn) Gallagher sued. He won in August 2000, and Ron is now prohibited from impersonating his brother in any of his performances.

And there won't be a seat for him at Thanksgiving dinner, either.

"I don't care to talk to him ever again," Gallagher says. "By attempting to defraud the general public, he was lying to the people who support me. He was threatening the income of my kids. And he took advantage of me trying to help him. So between those three betrayals -- hurting the public, hurting my family, and hurting me -- I see no reason to have any kind of relationship with him. He doesn't understand ethics. I have another brother, so I really don't need that one."

Gallagher tries to treat his fans that way, he says, holding meet-and-greet sessions with them before and after shows. And he's started inviting kids onstage to join in the smashing. A tip from the seminal sledge slinger: "It's not about the weight of the hammer, but the speed of the hit."

Gallagher says he still has a good relationship with the melons, too, despite bashing them to bits over the years. He even grew a million watermelons in Blythe, Arizona, once, only to have heavy rainfall ruin a lot of the crop. The farming might not have worked out, but at least Gallagher can take his frustrations out on somebody else's green thumb without audiences wondering if they're getting the real deal.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea