Carl talks with Jack Gallagher, a comedian, actor, and writer, and Emmy award- winning television host of the PBS series Money Moves (nationally syndicated), Off-Limits, and Kids, Cash and Common Sense. He was also the host of California's The Big Spin Game Show and had a recurring role as a doctor on the hit HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm.
But there’s more! Jack is also the author and performer of eight critically acclaimed one-man shows. We’ve seen most of these highly personal, very relatable shows that make you laugh, cry and laugh again. His shows stay with you. So what’s Jack doing now? He’s still working and loving it, but also trying to take it easy. “I’m not chasing it anymore, but if someone calls, I’ll consider it.” (Of course, they still do.)
Jack grew up in a hard-working Irish Catholic family with 5 kids in the small town of West Bridgewater near Boston, MA. Jack says he was a shy kid growing up. (Most comedians are actually introverts.) By the age of 10, Jack knew he wanted to be a comedian, to make people laugh. “It took me out of my shell,” he says. His conservative parents were not so sure at first but eventually they came around.
After working towards a teaching degree, Jack took a chance and started performing at a Comedy Night on Campus, then in the Boston comedy scene just as it started to take off. Boston became a hotbed of comedy “greats.” It all happened pretty fast. Signed by an agent, Jack moved to LA and became a regular at the Improv. “Hecklers make you battle-tested,” Jack laughs. Then came the big break—an appearance on the Johnny Carson show. Performances followed.
In 1987 he was hired by KCRA in Sacramento to do a show. After being on the road for 15 years, Jack and his wife decided to stay, raise a family. He would fly down to LA and do his shows and then come back to Sac. He also had the opportunity to perform on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “It was a lot of ad lib—which is fun!” Always writing, Jack created eight one-man plays. Carl notes the stamina that takes. They require 60 shows in 6 weeks, 1.5 hours a night, 2 hours a night on Saturdays. “The audience rides the rollercoaster with me,” says Jack.
So now after a long, successful career, Jack at age 68 is still taking chances, but also taking it easy. He still writes and also performs in a band. Jack and his wife, Jean Ellen are also spending time visiting their sons, traveling when possible and every year they go to Massachusetts. “I’m really good at what I do. I’ve been incredibly lucky, it’s worked out.”
UnRetirement insights from Jack Gallagher:
“It’s weird to get old. Everything hurts! But I’m still 30-35 in my head. Sometimes I get recognized and sometimes I don’t and that’s okay!”
“I always tell my kids, the worst thing that can happen to you is someone says ‘No’. Just try something, take a chance!”
“I still like what I do, I still love performing. (But now) I try to do stuff that’s just fun!”
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.