Salida SteamPlant prepping for smashing good time

In preparation for Gallagher’s famous Sledge-O-Matic, all the seats in the Salida SteamPlant Event Center theater will be covered with plastic for the Friday, Dec. 15, show.

Gallagher will perform in Salida as part of the Joke’s On You Comedy Tour with Artie Fletcher.

Michael Varnum, SteamPlant director, said some of the walls in the “splash zone” will be covered too.

Gallagher’s prop comedy tour comes with a list of requirements for any willing venue. The list includes covering the “splash zone” with 6-millimeter-thick Visqueen plastic. Also a table built to spec for the food smashing.

“We factored all that time and cost in when deciding whether or not to book the show,” Varnum said. “They recommend the distance (to cover with plastic), but we decided to go clear to the top because we want to protect our new seats.” The recommendation for the splash zone is 12 rows.

While the Sledge-O-Matic stunt typically culminates in a watermelon, Gallagher has been known to smash pound cake, cheeseburgers and toothpaste. People attending the show might consider wearing specific protective clothing, like an old raincoat.

Gallagher said he’s been honing his talent for over 40 years. “I’m still alive and doing it better. I don’t think anyone does a better job at having a party and a live show.”

In his 40 years, he has done 4,000 shows, averaging 100 a year.

“I’ve certainly been copied. Every amusement park has a splash ride, Blue man group; I changed show business and made it more participatory.”

Smashing watermelons among other random food with his Sledge-O-Matic is his best-known shtick, but he is also a songwriter and poet and graduated college with a degree in chemical engineering.

“I could’ve been anything. I think anyone can, but I wanted to be one of the smartest guys to ever do comedy.”

Working as Jim Stafford’s road manager for a number of years after college launched Gallagher’s comedic career.

“I don’t just tell jokes. I try to change people so that you are different after you see me. I come with a message, ‘What is it to be American?’ I make it fun. It’s a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.”

After the comedy tour faced some issues booking in Breckenridge, Gallagher told Fletcher to search out smaller towns for a theater.

“I find America. I search it out. I’m not making people drive to Denver,” he said.

Fletcher said, “Once in a while we’ll go to a smaller (town). Gallagher likes to bring the party to them.”

The pair once sold out six nights in a row in a small town in Tennessee, Fletcher added.

Varnum said a few people who had already bought tickets asked to be in the splash zone. Seating is first-come, first-served, so if you want to get covered in food, get there early.

The show had nearly sold out as of Nov. 30, so if it hasn’t yet, get your tickets now!

“We are very appreciative to Heart of the Rockies Radio and American Overhead Door to make it possible to bring them in,” Varnum said.

For more information about the Joke’s On You Comedy Tour, visit