A Different Kind of Cool
Sacramento, CA 95814
Local humorist Jack Gallagher is a dichotomy. He’s a self-declared private man who stands before audiences and publicly reveals insightful, intimate, heartwarming and wickedly funny anecdotes about family, friends, acquaintances and sundry idiots that color his life.
The Massachusetts native started out in stand-up comedy but has expanded his career to include television (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Money Moves) and writing/performing monologues about his kith and kin with the help and encouragement of B Street Theatre’s artistic director Buck Busfield. Busfield has nurtured Gallagher through three one-man shows that each debuted at B Street: What He Left, Letters to Declan and Just the Guy, which explore Gallagher’s East Coast roots and West Coast life where he lives in Land Park with his wife and two sons.
And now Gallagher has honed a fourth show, A Different Kind of Cool, where he once again opens up his door and invites us into his heart and hearth. As he’s demonstrated in his other shows, Gallagher muses about life and love by carefully tightroping between sentimentality and comedy, and this time around, he gives us a heartfelt glimpse into the world of fatherhood and autism.
Gallagher first transports us to the Cape Cod vacation home where the Gallaghers have spent the last 20 summers and where we are introduced to his creative, rambunctious son Liam. Then, through lovely, funny and poignant stories and family photos, Gallagher tells his tale of a dad’s struggle with the diagnosis and daily dealings with his sensitive, artistic and highly imaginative son who also has autism.
It’s a father’s story, a family’s story, a son’s story, a community’s story and a human story of how life is not a straight and narrow road, but rather one filled with side trips, rest stops, bumps, turns and redirections. It’s how Gallagher learned to stop trying to pull Liam into his world, but rather embrace, explore and appreciate Liam’s unique universe and perspective. It’s also a story about self-awareness and limitations of wanting to be the best father, husband, hero, comedian and cool guy, but ultimately appreciating the simple gifts of peace, love and happiness in a house in Sacramento.
Gallagher is careful to not overdose his stories with sappy sentimentality; he’s quick to douse any schmaltz with silliness and a wicked sense of humor—and by interspersing tangents about things that make him go “hmm,” such as Facebook and prescription-drug warnings. He’s frank about the frustrations along the way, the failings he’s felt as a father and the challenges that lay ahead.
Gallagher is quite clear that his wife and sons are the ones who have encouraged him to open up, who have nudged him along the way, to expose family stories that both entertain and enlighten. His wife Jean is the one who came up with the idea, and 14-year-old son Liam courageously agreed to let us peek into his daily life. Neither his wife nor sons have seen the production yet; according to Gallagher, they’re waiting for him to fine-tune the tales as he goes along. They plan on slipping in one night to do what they always do: laugh at and embrace a dad who is just trying to do his best to be a different kind of cool.