Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Gallagher's last smash in bay area closes down historic Clearwater theater

CLEARWATER — On Sunday, Gallagher, that mustachioed mischief maker of 1980s fame — watermelon slayer, if you will — told his audience at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater who he really is.

"I'll tell you who I am," he said, following a video retrospective of his career. "I'm the smartest guy in the world."

"You saw me with Dave Letterman (on the video). He's an idiot."

Laughter.

"I've known him his whole career. He can't write jokes. He has to be a host because he can't be the guest."

More laughs with whistles.

And with that, Leo (his first name) launched into Gallagher's Last Smash, the final event at the 93-year-old Capitol before it closes for a $7 million expansion and renovations. The theater is owned by the city of Clearwater and managed by Ruth Eckerd Hall.

The show was also billed as Gallagher's last public performance in the Tampa Bay area before he retires his Sledge-O-Matic, a device he uses to smash fruits and vegetables during his act. Elisa Cerio, 50, wasn't about to miss it.

"This will be the eighth time I've seen him live," the Tarpon Springs resident said before the show. "I think he's the most amazing comic; he's not only funny, but creative. His jokes make you think."

Complimentary plastic yellow hard hats were passed out at the door. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos presented the funny guy, now 66, with a sledgehammer from the city. Gallagher sloshed up the mayor's tie with a juicy watermelon in return. Together, they pretended to blow up the old theater with some fake TNT.

About 450 fans showed up for the sold-out show. The multigenerational audience came to share a laugh, say a goodbye.

Alleyn Vinson, 8, couldn't wait for the fruit to hit the fans.

"I'm going to eat it right off of me," he said.

Denise Conway, 38, of Tampa brought her father, Carl Wheeler, who recently suffered a stroke, in a wheelchair.

"He took me to see Gallagher a long time ago and now it's my turn to take him," she said. She and Gallagher share the same alma maters — Madison Middle and H.B. Plant High schools in Tampa.

Roger and Nancy Hobbs of Holiday were brave enough to sit in the front row, covered in plastic sheeting.

"We grew old together," said Roger, 60, referring to Gallagher.

Nancy, 59, said she admired the comedian's candor. "He's not afraid to speak his mind. He reminds me of me."

Gallagher has survived four heart attacks, an estrangement from his brother Ron over copying his act, and harsh criticism of his social and political rants.

But he still wields his Sledge-O-Matic like a lumberjack and can go on a two-hour comic spree without breaking a sweat — although he does tend to switch subjects rapidly and return to them later.

Sunday night, he incorporated members of the audience into his act; some of them proved to be jokesters, too.

When he chose a pregnant Heather Willard, 38, of Largo to demonstrate how men's underwear could be cut at the crotch and worn over the head, he asked her what she'll name her baby.

"I'll leave it up to him," she quipped, pointing to a man in the audience. "He thinks he's the father."

Gallagher's act was insane, irreverent, perverse and profane, ranging from potty talk to politics — and the audience ate it up.

Well, most of it.

"I'm a Presbyterian," Gallagher said. "We worship Frisbees. We believe when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down."

Lots of laughs.

But when he said, "Jesus wanted to know his future so he went to the palm reader and she nailed him," boos rang out.

"All right, it was over the line," he admitted.

   
Comments
Pope begs forgiveness for ‘irreparable harm’ from sex abuse

Pope begs forgiveness for ‘irreparable harm’ from sex abuse

SANTIAGO, Chile — Pope Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the "irreparable damage" done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Chur...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Some fear Spa Beach billowing net sculpture could catch birds and storms

Some fear Spa Beach billowing net sculpture could catch birds and storms

By WAVENEY ANN MOORETimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — International artist Janet Echelman may have fulfilled her $75,000 feasibility contract with the city and previewed her billowing, parasol-inspired sculpture for Spa Beach, but for some, key ques...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Florida boy, 6, dies of rabies contracted from a bat

ORLANDO — A 6-year-old Florida boy has died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat.The father of Ryker Roque told NBC that the boy died Sunday at an Orlando hospital.Father Henry Roque said he had found a sick bat, put it ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Pasco man fatally struck on Interstate 70 in Kansas

SALINA, Kan. — The Kansas Highway Patrol says a Florida man died after he was hit by a car as he walked along Interstate 70 near Salina.The patrol says 35-year-old Cody Nordlund of New Port Richey died Sunday night.He was walking in an eastbound lane...
Updated: 2 hours ago
North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea’s official news agency responded Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s controversial "nuclear button tweet," describing it as the "the spasm of a lunatic," according to AP."The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental st...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Forecast: More warm weather, but frigid conditions are returning to Tampa Bay

Forecast: More warm weather, but frigid conditions are returning to Tampa Bay

The sunny skies and warmer temperatures that took hold on Martin Luther King Day will extend into Tuesday across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area They will last only a day, however, as the region will see a shor...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The Daystarter: Boat fire claims 42-year-old mother of two; cold kills fish, attracts vultures, Licht on Bucs’ ‘brutal’ year; warm returns, for a day

The Daystarter: Boat fire claims 42-year-old mother of two; cold kills fish, attracts vultures, Licht on Bucs’ ‘brutal’ year; warm returns, for a day

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• It will actually warm up just a tad before another cold front arrives and sweeps east across the Gulf coast. Tuesday’s highs will be in the 70s but expect cooler temperatures...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pasco plans industrial site on utility property

Pasco plans industrial site on utility property

DADE CITY – Commissioner Jack Mariano remembers the message from economist William Fruth.Just seven months after Mariano joined the commission in 2004, Fruth, of Palm City, told the county’s elected and appointed officials that Pasco should explore d...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Help wanted: Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has 250 jobs to fill

Help wanted: Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has 250 jobs to fill

TAMPA — Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is holding a hiring event next week to fill more than 250 positions. The event will take place in the Hard Rock Cafe from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 24. Available positions include culinary, beverage, hotel, spa, ...
Published: 01/16/18