Matt Gallagher’s Links
A Stumble in the Woods: https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Gallagher-Stumble-Woods/dp/B07LGCRD7H
Like there were guys out at beers game and you’re like okay be while you did have 18 beers never made it to the game you’re like I have like four
And with me today is comedian Matt Gallagher. Matt has a hilarious special on Amazon right now. It’s called Matt Gallagher a stumble in the woods. And that’s the best known for his comedy career which started in New York in sobriety. Matt, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you.
Thanks. Thanks for having me.
When I was listening to the special just like man, this guy is just nailing it, you know, 10 minutes in Jesus Christ this guy is on fire is so cool to listen to. Well, why don’t you give us a little background on you know how, how everything started and, you know, we can get into your sobriety and things like that. But what’s what’s kind of the background of Matt Gallagher,
thanks for watching this special by the way I got he sent me a text and that that made me happy. Yeah, that’s special is really kind of my story. I both sides of my family were Irish Catholic bar owners back east. My mom’s family had a bar called the Aaron in Atlantic City in my dad’s family had a bar called Gallagher’s in South Philly, I six sisters, I was young boy, you know, Irish Prince. Drinking wasn’t like, it was expected, you know. And I was I felt lost as a kid. I mean, I had all girls running around the house. I was like, you know, just in my own dream world, felt confused all the time. Didn’t understand, like, the real religious people in my family. And, man, once I started drinking, it was like, you know, here we go. And I made that my identity. Like, I’m like, this is my thing. You know, like, I’m the guy who drinks and you guys guy you wanted it. You know what I when I went to parties, it was like, you’re so different than when you’re at school. And it’s like, yeah, I’m sober and scared at school. You know, and then, you know, I’ll dance and tell jokes and act crazy. And, and that worked for me that like gave me some kind of identity. I was like, never allowed to drive. Like, I think I was a designated driver once and I, you know, I got hammered, and through the keys. And my friends were like, you’re never going to drive again. But I always had like a keg tap. And, like, I would always challenge people to like, I practice doing rip cords. When I was a kid, in the basements, my sisters were much older than me. And I really did make it like, my Danny, like, this is who I want to be. I loved being in the bars and seeing people like my uncles, and the guys who, you know, had the big red noses and these like, great war stories, and just were able to hold court. And I was like, they that’s, that’s what I want. I was never someone who was like, man, I want a big fancy car, I want to have, you know, clothes or this. Like, I wanted to be somebody who could hold court and, like, walk into a room and feel a you know, and
you know, had immediate downsides. Like my high school memories, I wrote, I did what like I was I was blacking out from a very early age. And I, you know, went to go to college, and in Boston, and I got had 13 alcohol violations in three months. Like, I just, I didn’t get it, you know what I mean? I was like, I’m a college like, I’m, of course, I’m going to drink in the shower, I’m, you know, I’m going to walk, you know, beer breakfast at the missile, like, they were just writing me up left and right. And I was just like, I got more freedom at home, you know, what I mean? Like, and school was getting in the way of what I wanted to do, you know what I mean? And I dropped out of school, and I went back to New Jersey, and, you know, things get real, then, you know, it’s like, Okay, you got to get a job, I became a house painter. And that was a place where it was like, people show up, hung hung over, you paint until, you know, five o’clock and maybe have a beer in the van. And then you know, repeat, repeat, repeat. And I, you know, I that was also a thing where my drinking was getting in the way that you know, it’s hard, you know, I felt for roof. You know, one time I was just from being like hungover and lazy one time because I was still a little buzzed.
I felt trapped, you know, and I was just drinking with abandon. And that was some of the times when I started. Like morning, drinking was like a joke. You know what I mean? It’s like, Hey, you know, hair, the dog. And that’s when I kind of started, you know, having a beer with breakfast a lot. And no lunch break beers. And I was working basically, to make sure I had cash in my pocket to get a 12 pack right after work, and let the chips fall where they may each day. And then I decided, or a guy asked me say you want to get out of this town, you want to go west. And I never been west of Philadelphia. And I’m like, yep, let’s go. So I ended up in Arizona. And, you know, the way I was brought up like Irish Catholic drinking was encouraged and like, you know, expected, I remember people saying that people don’t drink hard in any form. And I didn’t know anything about sobriety or anybody not drinking. But a couple times, my parents would say stuff to me, like when they knew I was, you know, hitting it a little harder than the average Joe, like, you know, your uncle’s liver exploded in South Philly, in cirrhosis. And that’s how I lost the bar. Okay. And then you find other little tidbits, you know, about people who died from alcoholism. So I go to end but drugs, were not an option. Like that. The idea was, if you drank great if you did drugs, you know, you should go to jail. It should be boiled in oil. And then I had a couple of cousins die from drugs. This is like Jordan aids, when the AIDS epidemic it some people got a two cousins who were, you know, whatever that the effects of that. But I move out west and I’m 20 years old, I had already bars, I’d started bartending when I was 19. I had a relative get me a job at a dive bar. So I go into the nightclub business. And this is like a whole new world for me. Because I’m like a bar back in a nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona. And it’s like, it’s not working class New Jersey at all. It’s a lot of, you know, breast implants and tanning salons and guys in suits. And I was like, wow, like, what, what is this world, and I was making money. I had friends, I was drinking, I was smoking pot at that time, like, you know, 20 years old smoking some pot. And I, like literally one night of all my things like, I’m never going to do drugs, the guy turns me goes like sniff and I went, and I snorted some coke. And, you know, I didn’t burst into flames as a good. So page, you know. And I also knew that I had, I was still driving, you know, you had to drive everywhere. And I was I was starting to blackout all the time. And I was scared at the wise and my brain said you got to find ways to stay alert and awake. And that led me into powders. It was it was not a tough leap to make you know what I mean? Like all the sudden it was just like an added thing to my drinking regimen. So short time after that I met a girl. I think you saw this special, you know, it turned out she was Yeah, she was a street you know, she was like a specialty stripper escort. And I met her because one of the door men’s girlfriends did crystal meth. And I was they were in a fight. And I was up with her late at night drinking and she’s like, you want to try this. And I thought it was coke. And I did some speed. And I was like, holy man, I can drink as long as I want on this stuff. I just I needed it. Like, I was like, I got my beers. I got to find some of this because I’m going out. And then I found a girl who sold it. And I was dating her. And it became an everyday thing for you know, pretty much, six years, seven years, something like that. And, you know that
took me down as far as
at least when I was drinking occasionally I’d pass out and sleep for six hours, you know, but yeah, that to it. And you know, you do three, five day runs where you’re drinking ungodly amounts, and you’re just not sleeping, you start to go crazy, you know, and your life looks crazy. And you get into crazy situations. My friends, I became like, that was the first time I was really unemployable. You know, look where I had a guy tell me is still my friend today. He’s like, I can’t hire you. I can’t have you behind the bar. Like, you know, I wouldn’t show up. I show up. If I showed up. I was drunk. I’d be drinking behind the bar. It was I always wanted to make everything a party to like, It’s on me. It’s on me. You know, I just disaster. And yeah, it just, it just kept going. You know, I mean, I was trying to hold on to this party. And it just kept getting less and less fun and more and more work. You know, I hear that a lot. I go to meetings and you know, it feels like calling it a parties a joke. I mean, it at some point, it becomes so much work to keep it going. And I just started doing like geographics. Like I kind of bottomed out in Arizona. So I moved to California to become an actor, you know, and I got it together for a little while. And, you know, you know, eventually I’m Dana can be from going on stage. I was doing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And I was hammered. Like the character was supposed to be drunk. I was drunker than drunk, you know, running into people on stage. It was just, I could not drink. And
when I look back on it now, it just seems like
like a blur that had to happen the way it did. Like, it just I had to be shown everything. Like if something went right, I drank and I destroyed if something was going wrong, I just kept making it worse. I was just, you know, calling the airstrikes in on myself. I mean, I actually I gotta I graduated from acting school. And I got a pilot for a show, you know, with somebody who’s pretty well known. And I mean, I I just destroyed it. I was a mess. I go into meetings, after being up for three days, having a drink in the parking lot, and then be shocked when they weren’t excited to, you know, talk about the future. They’re like, All right, see ya. You know, Hollywood. And then, you know, la was the problem. And I moved to New York. And then you know, New York is where I really, really hit the ground hard. As far as I didn’t have to drive anymore. I got a bartending job two blocks from my house. There was a drug dealer working at the restaurant. I mean, like, all the elements were there for me to have a, you know, a nasty bottom. And I did, you know, I got fired. I was getting kicked out of all the local bars right around my house, like I had to make bigger circles to find places that, you know, we’re okay with the way I drank. And I got suicidal. And,
yeah, I had a suicide attempt.
You know, I made a call on the blackout. And the next, you know, my family, my sister husband came and got me and took me to rehab. And that was in 2001. And my life, you know, completely changed after that.
Yeah. So when when you reached out to your family was, was this just a random occurrence or had it just kind of clicked for you? That just, I can’t keep doing this, what’s going through your head.
my family was aware, like times where I would go home. Um, you know, I was just, they were like, it was obvious, like, I’d come home 25 pounds less than I was the last time I was home. One time I stayed at my sister’s house, she put a portable fridge next to the couch, and just stopped it full of beer. And I put on like, 13 pounds in like, eight days. I just slept on the couch drinking beer. And one of my sisters, like, had me go to a meeting with a therapist, you know, she’s like, why your home Monday meets my friend. And, you know, the therapist was like, how much do you drink? And I, you know, I was trying to like, make it sound. Okay. And, you know, like, how many days do you drink? Like, I drink every day? But you know?
And like, how much and I was like, every day, but you
like, just, you know, like with dinner.
With dinner, everyone blacks out at dinner. Come on. And when you wake up at work? Yeah.
Yeah, I mean it like, as I’m talking to her, she’s just like, also, you could just see the wheels going alcoholic, alcoholic alcoholic? And, like, how much do you drink it? I’m just like, six, you know, I was like, having everything or, you know, making it sound palette, which is still on the
checklist of like, How much? How much is too much to drink? Like, if you get five, it’s like a disaster. What do you mean? If I do five, like, you mean, in the morning or the afternoon? Like, I didn’t even understand those questionnaires. It was just like, all of this is just sort of normal. Like, what do you mean? Do I drink more than five? Do I drink every day? Like, what are you supposed to do? Just not do that? Like that? Doesn’t even that doesn’t even register when I’m when I’m out there.
Like in hindsight, you look at it and you go like, I you kind of know you’re an alcoholic if, especially when you’re younger, like the guys, when they’re lying about how much they drink and adding numbers to it. And you’re cutting it in half. Like you’re like on a different path. Like there were guys out at beers game and you’re like, Okay, well, you did have 18 beers never made it to the game. You’re like, I have like four, you know?
Yeah, I had a doctor once. The doctor had said to me, do you think he I had a seizure and I was in the hospital. The doctor comes in, he says, How often do you drink? And I said about eight times a week. He says eight? I said yeah, well I drink every single day. But on Sundays, I wake up early to watch football blackout, wake up and get drunk again for the for the eight o’clock game. So I get drunk twice on Sunday. He’s like, wow, that’s, that’s a lot. I was like, so what should I be shooting for? Like someone in my level? Like maybe four or five times a night? He’s like, he’s like, do you do it by yourself? I was like, kind of question is that of course I do it by myself. Yeah. It’s like, maybe just in social situations. I was like, I don’t get those. What am I supposed to do?
I tell people, like, people think they drink a lot, who don’t have this? And, um, you know, they’re like, try and drink with you for night. And I’m like, good job, do it. Let’s do it 10 times in a row. You know what I mean? Like the the big commitment to it shows you that there really isn’t an option. like nobody would do that to themselves. People who are trying to get I was like, the go to guy to call, like, if you were just got out of a relationship. Or like, you know, you you’re having a bad day, people will call me like, what do you do it? Like, come on it, you know, I mean, just jump on. You don’t mean destroy yourself for a day. And then they go away? Like, I’ll see you, you know, you know, I was the last person girlfriends wanted their boyfriends to call you know what I mean? Just because there wasn’t like I was going to be like, the, it wasn’t like debauchery warehouse and stuff like that. It was just like, Who knows when they’re coming back, you know. But yet with the time when I called my sister, so I was in a position where I was, I wanted to stop drinking, and I couldn’t, every day I’d wake up and and be like, I’m not drinking today. That’s it. And you know, it was I’m never drinking again, I’m not drinking for a year, I’m not drinking for a month, I’m not drinking this week, I’m not drinking till dark. And then I’d have a beer with a ham sandwich. And it’s just the enemy. That was that was part of like the soul crushing nature of the disease. You know what I mean? I mean, just letting yourself down every day. And just like watching me mentally lower the bar for my expectations from you know, never year, week, day, five minutes drunk, you know. So I was fired from a job for drinking on the job at a nice restaurant. And I in a blackout I called. And once that, that chain of events happened, I kind of had to hold on for it. Because I, I didn’t want to disappoint my sister and her husband, they were like we’re coming. There had been a suicide in the family the year before with someone who was couldn’t get sober. And so I was like, I’m going to try this out. Like I got, I have no options anyway, like, I can’t pay rent, I can’t get out of the house, I don’t have enough money for it. I was collecting coins from my house, I wasn’t doing laundry. And I was getting this some malt liquor that was like it was literally like $1, nine at the corner store in Manhattan. And that’s what I was like, basically living on. And so when we headed towards this rehab, you know, halfway there, I kind of did, you know, I drank on the way they bought me drinks. So I wouldn’t go into, you know, whatever the manual said, but I you know, halfway there, I’m like, I think I’m good. You know, I’d gotten like four shots and me and a couple beers. And they were like, nope, we’re going and they show up at the rehab. And all my sisters and my mom and dad are there.
they were like, okay, you know, they everybody kind of knew this day was coming except me. And I go in, and then I find out that my cousin had 15 years clean. And he was gonna come up to talk to me. And then you start hearing like, it was like this big secret that I didn’t know about all the people in my family on the fringes, and the generation before that had alcoholism, and then drug addiction and all this stuff.
So it was kind of cool. Like, I felt like
I had somebody to talk to and who understood it. And this was a cousin, I’d known forever. And I never knew that he was in, you know, doing 12 step recovery work for years. And he kind of looked me dead in the eyes. And it’s just like, you ready to, you know, put an end to this, and I’ll be your sponsor. And I was like, Okay. And like halfway through the rehab, I called him and said, I want to go home, he’s like, nope, you’re going to finish something you started this time. You’ve committed to you sign that paper, when you went in there said 28 days, you got to stay for 28 days. That’s that’s how you do stuff. Now. You finish what you’re doing. And that was like kind of the, the beginning of the, you know, intentions are nice, but actions are better.
you’re going to start doing what you say. And I had some great
moments in that rehab.
I had two people go into seizures that I was with. I mean, I caught a lady on the stairs, she just like out. And there was a lady like we’re doing like a walk around the like garden or something. And she started seizure. And I got her and like so that made it crystal clear that like this is serious. Especially when they ruin I told my story with other people and with the counselors. I was like that level alcoholic where it’s not going to turn out well, like I knew about my uncle’s now. I was like, yeah, this is not a game. I had super high liver and I’m counts like so the very beginning. This is it.
31 years old, I had, you know, the
the very beginnings of cirrhosis of the liver. And yeah, things got you know, crystal clear for me, and I decided to take it seriously. And plus you listening to people in rehab who were in there to, you know, try and keep their job or try and get out of their 50 why and all this kind of stuff. I was like, What are they doing? Why are they even here, I’m going to take this seriously. And
I did I became like,
enthusiastic about trying stuff open in my you know, mind. Plus I was I didn’t want to be bored. I didn’t want to be the guy sat there. And just itching to get out like a prison sentence. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I’d always had a problem with like religion and spirituality and praying and all this stuff. And a counselor there gave me that that’s where the name for my special came to stumble in the woods. He gave me a pass and said you need to go off and meditate, like learn how to be still. And I you know, I did. I mean, I couldn’t sleep a lot. I was a basket case, like running around being crazy. I did some. You know, I had like a mental breakdown in the rehab.
I don’t I don’t know if I told you this. But like,
I ran out into a thunderstorm but like took off my shirt, like ran out of a rehab and was in the middle of a field. Like because I was didn’t want to pray. They were having like prayer time. And I just like lost my mind. And like took a shirt ran off the front porch into a field. And I was standing in the middle of the night, screaming God like God, and like the sky just opened up with thunder, like, mag and lightning was hitting all over the place. And yeah, I come welcome back in and the first thing I noticed was, you know, everybody in the rehab, like, give them room, you know what I mean? Like, he’s, he’s crossed over to the other side here. And they were like, you know, you’re the only tall object out there. You’re lucky to be alive. You’re like, I’m lucky. Like, I was like, man at the vet it I was like, He’s lucky. I’m like yelling at God. You know, I was just I, I had to find something, you know, I was really looking. And when I went out into the woods that was that the the impetus for the guy saying you need to get still. So he let me go out into the woods. And I just, I wandered off into the woods of New Jersey, found a tree stump sat on it and tried to meditate, you know, breathe and close my eyes. And you know, when I when I opened my eyes, I don’t know how long I was sitting there. But when I opened my eyes, there was a wild turkey like 15 feet in front of me. Like just staring at me. And I’d never seen a wild turkey I didn’t know they existed. And I was like bullet, but you know, like, hey,
I’ve seen this on a bottle, but I’ve never seen it in person.
I like I’m out there by myself in the woods. I mean, I probably hadn’t been out at in the daytime in nature in 12 years, you know, Jesus. So there’s like cobwebs all across the trees, you know, there’s do glistening there was butterflies. And I was just like, Oh my God, look at this nature. And I go running back in. And the guy I’m like, the the counselor, I’m like, there’s turkey out there. You know, it’s all Bunny, you know, I was super like, a doozy of a stick. And he’s like that stuff’s always been there. You know, and it’s just, you know, you got to put down and drink it over your eyes. It’s all there, you know. And that, like, carried me through, like, I got out of rehab. And I came I went back to New York. And I mean, I immediately found a meeting. And as you know, luck would have it in Manhattan. One of the best 12 step. workshop areas is one and a half blocks from my house. Like I could see it from my corner, and then been there all the time. So all the sudden I’m in, you know, I’m doing all the meetings, I’m meeting people. I’d met a guy in rehab, who was a comedian from Bronx. He said, look me up when you get out, I got out I called him. I mean, my life just I was I was lucky because that was the fear. Like, I want to be living in New York, I can’t drink or can’t do drugs, what do you do? And I immediately got into, like, a community. I had a purpose. And my life just it, it got good. You know what I mean? It got good and exciting and, you know, scary. And, but every step of the way I had I started learning how to ask people for help vise never did that. I’ll figure it out on my own, you know, and I just won’t do anything. And, you know, once I got got it together, it was great. I mean, I I started performing in New York City as a comedian night, I had a bunch of friends in Hell’s Kitchen, all these like, you know, guys that I’d want to hang out with when I was a kid who are now, you know, had changed their lives to but they were still like, you know, gangsters and boxers and teamsters. And, you know, and actors. And it was, it was, it was great. You know, I was super enthusiastic about being sober. And I, I went with it, you know, I was 31 years old. And I felt like I was 18. Again, like, I just like, I came out of the gates. And I was just like, I’m going to, I’m going to do it. And
so you you started comedy after you got sober.
Yeah, I mean, I
I done comedy a few times. I mean, like I said, I was, I was acting, you know, I had done some plays. I had done some, you know, little films that didn’t go anywhere. And I had done stand up a handful of times. And I had a good response to it. But that’s kind of like hobbyist stuff that people will talk about comedy like I did it, you know, I took a class or something, whatever they do. That’s like saying, you know, I parachuted once tied to a guy who’s a professional Paris shooter, and you know, claiming your, you know, an aerialist. I had had done a few stand up shows, I did one in Arizona, like a contest, and I got like, first runner up, it was like for the best Phoenix never followed through with that. When I was in LA, I, I did like the open mic. Night at the Comedy Store, which is like the rite of passage where a lot of people have to do that, to, you know, to get to the next level. I got past as far as being able to audition to see Mitzi shore. But I was drunk when I did the first time. The second time, I tried to capture that same buzz, and I just flopped on stage. And as a guy, that’s comedy. But when I got sober that’s what I did it for real. And doing it for real means you’re getting up every night, as many times as you can, in whatever room you can find. And, you know, I average for those seven years about 350 shows a year, which that’s like, the average, you know, when you first start and you’re doing open mics, and you’re hoping to get on like shows or two in a little spot. And then you move up and then you start getting booked on shows. And then you have to get booked on multiple shows per night and you just do like it was great in New York, it would be like, you know, I got a spot at 10 o’clock here. I got a spot at 1045 there I got a spot a midnight there. And you would just you know, hustled from show to show. And, you know, just constantly working on material. And yeah, and I could only do that in sobriety for sure. The last show I did before I went to rehab, I blacked out. I don’t remember the show. Because I was put Well, here’s an excuse for you. I was supposed to go in second. And they bumped me to like 10. So, you know, I was nice and buzzed at the beginning by the time of what he’s gonna
do for the next day. So I
was to sit here like a chump and not drink while
I’m waiting. is a beer per comic. A good average. You know what I mean?
Yeah, exactly. What are you supposed to do? Just stop? Yeah, it’s not even an option. Although for normal people from what I understand, that actually is an option. You can Oh, I just gotta wait. Okay.
Yeah, restraint. You know, I mean, like, I feel good, and I want to feel better. So I’m nervous. And I don’t want to be nervous. Whatever it was, it was a Gotham comedy club is a great comedy club. And I use her name all the time. She’s Jessica, Kirsten was at the time, the person running that show. She’s, she’s a big comedian now. And I went on stage. And, you know, my style then was to kind of just, you know, be me at a party, you know, I mean, I was just talking nonsense and, you know, thrown in little, very physical. And she called me when I was in rehab, she didn’t know I was in rehab. She’s like, you had a great show. I’ve, somebody asked me to recommend some comedians for a new club that’s opening up in midtown Manhattan. And I thought of you. And I’m like, Well, I’m in rehab. When I get out, can I go? And she’s like, yeah. And so I got out of rehab. And I’m this, this how great this was, this new club was on 46th Street, I lived on 48 Street. And they needed people there all the time. So now I’m like, sober, I got the meetings, one block over, I’ve got a brand new comedy club, two blocks south of my house. And they’re like, you can perform as much as you want, if you’re working here. So now I’m like that it became my life. And I did more shows in that amount of time, then it would almost be physically impossible to do more shows, because they had to show rooms, and we were doing six shows a night, and they would let me be on all six. So I mean, I would go to show room one and open the show, run the show room to be the third person on run back. You know, it was it was amazing. And, you know, then I, you know, I outgrew that club, and I started performing it, you know, better venues in Manhattan. And it was, it was amazing, you know, I mean, you get to go up, you know, I’m going on between David telling Jim Galligan, you know, like, I was moving up the levels moving up the hierarchy, there wasn’t like a big comic, but I was a New York Comic, and I was getting paid to do spots. And that was like, my goal, you know, and,
and I’m racking up years clean, you know, what I mean? And
having to do things to take it to that next level. One of the things I didn’t like was being on the road, you know, it’s one thing to have your nice little comfortable area, and you know, all the people you need to in your, you know, heard and, but, you know, those were those times when, like things got tested, like, okay, you’re going to spend a weekend with a sex addicts, drug addict, you know, comedian, sharing a condo, in the middle of nowhere, see how see how comfortable that is, you know, and I quickly realized I didn’t like being on the road. I didn’t like being away from my, you know, my sponsor, you know, all that all those things that made me feel
comfortable and safe.
So how did you get through times like that with, you know, with the temptation and things like that, right there? What were some of the strategies that you were using to get through it?
You know, brownies, milkshakes, walks, and I remember walking, and I use the phone, you know, I mean, I that was a habit that really has paid off for me is that I would call people and I really feel that you can’t call people when you’ve got all the guns pointed at you, and you’re handcuffed. That can’t be the first time you make a phone call the fact that I talked to people almost every day in my neighborhood. And if I wasn’t there, I you know, I would call to Hey, what’s up what’s happening? That made those times when I felt like, man, I am uncomfortable. And I’m uncomfortable to the point where I may do something stupid, that I would make a phone call.
And it wasn’t like the phone didn’t feel like a way to thousand pounds. I was like, Hey, you know, Steve, this guy is smoking weed in the next room. And he just wants to keep talking. And that it and I’m just, I just, I just want to get the hell out of here. And he’s like, well, you got show tomorrow, right? And like, and he goes, is there diner, I’m like, I think there’s one he goes, go for a walk, you know, and he would just talk me down, you know, to me, and I was in a Providence or Hartford or somewhere, I left this casino to find a diner. And there was only freeway between this casino and everything. So I’m walking on the shoulder of the road, there’s no sidewalk, and I’m like walking, you know, you know, down the freeway, just to get to a diner so I can be alone, have coffee, just get out of my head. So that whatever it takes attitude, you were just, you were taking suggestions, like you said earlier, you were willing to just follow what other people who were successful, were saying and I like also that you touched on, you got comfortable using the phone and asking for help, like you are flexing that muscle soul so that when you really needed it, it was there. And like you said the phone didn’t weigh 1000 pounds. And I know for some people, they kind of just coast on everything’s good, everything’s good, everything’s good. And then everything’s not good. And you’ve forgotten the things that you did early on. That got you to where you were in moving forward with your career. What serve going on down the line, how sober Are you around at this point?
Oh, I’m I’m in it like I am. I’d always Secretary meetings, I’d gone through the step work. And, you know, it wasn’t like I came out of the house one time on 48 Street. Pretty sure I was going to get a beer in a panic, like, I can’t deal with it. Part of the things when you move up and do things. I wasn’t used to dealing with tough moments in life sober, I had no reference for it. So whether my boss yelled at me, or someone said, we’re inviting you to do this showcase for you know, casting people or you know, a comedy festival, I’d have anxiety. You know, I’m like, I don’t deal with anxiety. Well, the new or the uncomfortable. I walked out of my house, and I’m walking I think down eighth or ninth Avenue. And I’m like, something’s going to something’s going to happen. And boom, like turns a corner. This guy Bobby, who since passed. He’s like a local legend in Hell’s Kitchen is a team series with a couple other burly guys. Are you doing okay? My man and I’m like, No, come with us went to a diner, they I start telling them what I’m nervous about. They’re laughing their asses off and just totally defuse the situation. And that was that gave me the ability to get through those times where I didn’t just pull the, you know, call the air strike in on myself again, you know what I mean? Like, I just like, okay, it’s not that big a deal. Like, I can do it. I did things like, you know, audition for the comic strip. And, you know, do my first show of Caroline’s go on the road and do radio, you know, stuff like that. stuff that I’m glad I did. But also it was okay, if I didn’t enjoy it. You know what I mean? Like, there were certain things in the business that I wasn’t a fan of, like, you know, there’s some people like, I got 40 weeks booked on the road. And I’m like, that’s my nightmare. Like, I want to leave Manhattan for 40 weeks, and drive everywhere. I hate driving. I hate hotel rooms. Like, that’s a nightmare for me. So I started becoming okay with what I really wanted, you know, like, What I wanted was, you know, to perform and, you know, started relationship at that time, you know, I met my eventual wife, I didn’t meet her. I, I, I known her. She knew me when I was drinking and partying. She’s an actress, and she came to New York to do a play. And we reconnected as friends. And it turned into a relationship. So you know, I’ve it’s like a full long grown up, you know, I mean, like, all the sudden, I had a girlfriend. I had a little bloody, burgeoning career, you know what I mean, I was getting known in comedy. I still had a regular job, I’d always worked in restaurants my whole life. That made sure I had the bills paid. And, you know, I did a play on 42nd Street, which was great, you know, I got to see what that was all about doing eight shows a week. You know, seeing your, your your name up at Ticketmaster. And, you know, in Times Square, cool things, nothing that’s super fancy over the superstar stuff. But really cool things were happening. Got to do a convention in Hartford. But it was like bikers, you know what I mean? Like just a hundreds of bikers got to do that show and kill it. I don’t know, there was there’s many times where I felt like I was living a fulfilled full life. And then those are times to when you get scared. You’re like, this is I’m not this, I’m not able to handle this. You know,
I remember I probably had four or five months sober. And I remember just kind of thinking like, this is the best My life has ever been, ever. And one of the fears that I know I had, I was just like, when is it going to crash? When is it going to crash. And then like months, six was even better. And then seven was even better. Eight and then nine, I did my first startup. And then year one, I’d started my first, like a real company. And then that thing, blew up multi millions and is just like, holy shit. Like, I’m just some dude that can’t stop drinking. And now, all of a sudden, I get my priorities straight. I stopped drinking and all those things that used to be getting in my way. It turns out, it was just me all along. I’ve got a million people to thank for getting me to where I’m at. But, you know, ultimately, I had to put in the work. And it sounds like that was that was part of your journey, too. So what are some of the things that you were doing? You were touching on, you just kept going show after show after show with all the people that are trying to break into the comedy scene, what sort of separates you from all of the others who are trying to get in it?
Well, listen, I I reached a certain level, the amount of desire to what that next level is, it’s something I didn’t possess. Like, I wasn’t willing to offer everything up in the name of my comedy career, or, you know, with my acting career, like whatever, you know, insert artist label here. And I didn’t have enough self belief, like when I would go on the few times I headlined on the road. Like if it wasn’t a full house, I felt like a complete failure. I looked, there’s waiters and waitresses, not making any money. The guy at the front door is mad, he’s not making money. There’s people who are opening for me who are looking at me, like he didn’t fill the room, I didn’t take those Well, guys still had low self worth galore, I was much happier being the feature, the second building, you know what I mean? Like, I didn’t have a desire to earn self belief to be like, I’m going to fill this room, anybody who doesn’t get it can go to hell, you know what I mean? I was still trying to people, please, I was working my material to fit into what I thought was like commercially acceptable, you know, there was a lot of things that weren’t going right for me in that sense, like how to get to that next level. And if whether I even wanted to, I don’t know, I kept the idea that it’s all about creating stuff, like so I would constantly be writing material and changing my material. There’s people I know, for 10 years have been doing a 10 minute set, trying to perfect that 10 minutes, because that could be the thing like back in the day, like, this is the set I’m going to do on The Tonight Show, you know, or whatever. And for me, it was more like I got things going through my head constantly that are trying to make me crazy. And I’m going to get them out every day. So I had built up a ton of material hours, the few times I’d have to do like half hour, 45 minute or hour sets. I had plenty of material, but I also got married, you know, I got into a relationship. And I decided to move to California that changed everything. You know, that was like a new area where I had to deal with my feelings of low self worth. I can’t do this. And that that’s what I eventually ended up in a relapse and had to start all over again.
You know what I mean? Like, how much time did you have? five, seven years? I know seven years. What would you say was the biggest downfall was it? It wasn’t just the relationship? Was it new stresses? What What do you think led to that?
I made the mistake of thinking I was fixed. You know?
That’s one of the biggest ones I hear one of the guys in my home group says the the scariest words are I got this.
Yeah. You know, I left New York. And like I said, when I was outside of New York, everything seemed bizarre to me at that time, you know, but you know, so I’m in LA, oh, that you know, everything’s different people do stuff differently. You can’t just walk to your meetings, I don’t like that this person has a mohawk. And, you know, I found reasons to not go or not stay connected. And then I’d stopped performing because, you know, I had a I had gotten past at, you know, the laugh factory in the Comedy Store right away when I moved here, which is huge people’s, the people spend years trying to get past at those clubs. I got past there. But it wasn’t like New York in the sense that they didn’t pay a lot. I wasn’t getting a ton of shows and I wasn’t making any enough money. So you know, now I got a wife, she wants to have a baby, I got new bills. I you know, I had never had a car payment before I’d lived in New York. So the all these bills are coming on me. And the only thing I knew that I’d always done is worked in bars and restaurants. So I start managing this fancy Steakhouse. Like I somehow I convert, I didn’t con my way into it, they met me and they knew I knew the business and I was good. I was nice with people. So I get this job. And slowly but surely, I’m not performing. I’m not going to meetings. I’m resentful that I’m, you know, working, you know, 60 hours a week, you know, selling people, you know, expensive food and wine. And, you know, one thing leads to another and I’m cased in life. You know, it was
Yes, the atmosphere and restaurants to that my background before I got sober. I did 10 years, in restaurants from dishwasher up through management, in in Corollas was like my, my hotspot. But the I mean, the, at least my experience, and I’ve worked at plenty of different restaurants. And correct me if I’m wrong, but the atmosphere pretty much in a restaurant is everybody over the age of 23 is pretty much an addict or alcoholic or something didn’t go right has been my experience.
Yeah, I mean, like I said, I grew up in the business. So I was where I’ve always felt comfortable. You want to find people to party with and you work at a restaurant, there’s going to be someone there who’s up for it. You know what I mean? So yeah, like that’s, it’s a target rich environment to use and abuse things. I was able to stay sober for seven years in New York, working in a restaurant, saw people all around me with, you know, different addictions or abuses. I was able to do it when I was in LA. And I’m the boss. I took away all the things that gave me that defense. Like, I wasn’t serious about it. I was living in like resentments and fear. And you know, you get scared and angry enough, a drink will seem like a good idea. Yeah. And so yeah, and then once I started, it became like a whole new awful kind of bottom. Because first of all, I became a wine now, which was never like never on my radar becoming a wine. Oh, so I’m drinking, you know, garbage wine, you know, bottles of it. But now I’m a father. I couldn’t get it together. Because I was like, doing like, what they call half measures. You know what I mean? Like, I drove home drunk last night, I’m never going to drink again. I’m going to go to a meeting or you know, I do this for like a day or two. But I never I didn’t get serious about it again. And then one day I did. And that’s been my second journey, which I had to get sober first had to get serious that guy Steve, I told you, I called when I was on the road in New York, I called him What do I do? Find a meeting with people with, you know, who know what they’re doing? got time. Boom, did that. Got a sponsor? Did 90 and 90. Got back on it? Then, okay, now I’m back in, I’m getting days, I’m ramping things up my mind starting to clear I’m starting to believe in myself, again, my relationships getting better. I’ve got two kids, it started coming back. Like I have stuff to share an offer. And my wife is amazing. My wife, you know, she never gives up. She’s got a movie. That’s one awards. She’s writing another script. Now she’s shooting something. And she is always been like you need to perform, you need to get out there. And so it started with a storytelling show. I had a friend moved from New York who was going through some stuff, personal stuff, like like tragedies. And she wanted to perform and I said, let’s do a storytelling show. And it was going to be one of one show. And the person who owned the venue said, Do you want the show to do it every week? She said yes. And I was like, I didn’t want to I sounded like a huge commitment to me. And I’m like, like, okay, we’ll do it every week. For eight months, I did a storytelling show. That was was great. I was writing new stories every week. The thing I didn’t like about standup comedy was that for me, it didn’t ring true. It sounded like I saw a lot of people doing finding it funny joke or punch line and trying to create a story that led to that or a setup, which is fine. That’s how you do it. It’s like watchmaking, you know what I mean? That’s how you do comedy. But this, the people that I really liked, or what I wanted to do, was to get as close to the truth I can, and just trust the fact that I’m nuts. And I’m funny, and people laugh. So that’s how it started that that’s what led me back into performing and doing stand up again. I’m performing at the Comedy Store, which is like first show I did, there was strong things were going to go great. It’s taken me years to get back there again. And to subvarieties, for the first time making it art I don’t like saying art, but yeah, it’s it’s an art form. I’m doing it the way I want to do it. And I’m not worried about the outside response to it. Fortunately, people like it, it’s been I’ve gotten a great response to it. And I keep getting asked to do shows. It’s all from getting serious about taking care of the biggest problem My life is that my brain wants me to drink and drug myself to death or to misery. Once I got a hold of that, and I keep that in the forefront, everything else has been falling into line. You know what I mean? It’s been good.
When, I mean, a stumble in the woods is absolutely hilarious. And that style you talked about of just, this was my life. And here is the craziness that happened. And it’s it’s a storytelling with with a punch line, but it doesn’t seem like you structured it to try to I can’t I can’t really put the words to it. But the just delivery and I guess you know, being an alcoholic, and just the stories that you’re telling you you had mentioned one about the bonding a bottle of was Southern Comfort. Yeah, yeah, bonding about our Southern Comfort and my jaw just dropped and I was like, Man, this guy’s he, he gets it. And I I completely related with just the the idea and the practicing sharpening beers and things like that. So what happened to get you started with with putting out a stumble in the woods, which is on Amazon, which I mean, everybody should check it out. It’s absolutely hilarious. But what was the rumblings of that will get you started on that?
Thank you. And here’s the thing, it didn’t seem structured because it wasn’t nobody in the world would suggest doing what I did. I hadn’t done hadn’t been doing comedy for seven years, I hadn’t been doing long sets for forever. I decided if I was going to start performing, and I’m like, I want to do it my way. Which means it’s not going to be all scripted and worked out. Plus the way my life was at the time, I couldn’t afford to go on the road and workshop, you know, an hour show, and get all these little jokes and stuff together. I was like, I’m going to step back into this world. And I’m going to do it my way, which means I want to first it was almost like reintroducing myself, I’m like, I’m going to just tell my story. I’m not going to have any jokes. That sounds like kind of corny, but I didn’t have like, this is my bit on relationships. And this is my bit on gun control. And this is my bit on the Borgia, you know, whatever. I was like, I’d only done it twice this that that show I had 15 friends come to that place where I did the storytelling shown like you guys bear with me and just listen. And I started talking and telling stories about my life. And that an hour and 45 minutes. I was 28 years old. As I already thanks. You know, I had I have a lot of stories. I know, I knew that I had a lot of stories to tell. The one good thing about my drinking history was I got into a lot of crazy situations.
Yeah, and those crazy stories, they definitely help especially. I mean, you can always put like a comedic twist on it. But like you were saying, when you were in school, and you got all those, all those problems with alcohol and all the times you got in trouble. And myself, I had something similar. Remember my my sophomore junior year college, I got two alcohol citations within a week of each other and ran away from a third. And you know, it’s just like, this doesn’t happen to normal people. But kind of when you structure the storytelling on it, it lands with people. You got it recorded, and then how do you get it on to Amazon? What’s that process look like? When I was originally going to do it?
I said, I got a friend. I just, I hadn’t really filmed any of my old stand up material. And I kind of regretted that. So I’m like, I want to do this. I want to record it. Let’s see what happens. My wife like I said he has she made an independent film called shmuley the death watcher. It was in like 14 festivals. She works with other indie people making films and things like that. She goes, Let’s film it for real. Like I don’t know. But here’s what ends up happening. I booked the El Cid which is like a, you know, a classic space in LA, this old theater space. It’s great. I love the way it looks. I saw my friend play music there and I’m like, man, I love the feel of this place. It’s like intimate but it’s a performance space. And Theresa goes, I got bow to film it. And Bo is her cinematographer from the film who’s like a Dutch Oscar shortlisted cinematographer. You know, I mean, this guy’s like, legit. He was working at the time from Vice News. You know, filming Pete, you know, these documentaries in the worst places in the world. He’s like, both going to film it. And I’m like, Okay, and then she, she she goes on like, looks up from her IMDb thing she finds like the one of the women who shot Sarah Silverman special and like, calls her like, Hey, you want to meet for lunch? Next thing I know, I got to a camera operators who were like pros who shot like comedy specials and all this stuff.
And I’m not even sure anybody’s going to show up for this thing.
It’s raining, it’s in LA. I’m like, it’s a rainy night. Nobody comes out in the rain. I go out and it’s standing room only. And it’s not a huge place. But there’s it’s, it’s full. Now there’s a dolly with like a Dutch cinematographer, you know, scrolling across the back of the, the venue. And I look and there’s two girls on like, major setup. And then I realized like, I haven’t rehearsed this, like, I don’t know what, like, what am I doing? Like as I couldn’t even get to the stage because it was full. So I had to go like when they announced me, I had to go out and go around the back. The comedian who introduced me is great Jackie Monahan. She’s, like waiting for me on stage. And she just leaves because I can’t get through the crowd. And I have to climb over cables. And I get up on stage. And I and I did I had to like, I used all the stuff that I’d learned in, you know, recovery. And like, this is it. You know, you’ve been scared in the past, you’ve walked through stuff. Just stick to what you wanted to do. And what I wanted to do is just tell the truth. Just tell the truth. And that’s that’s what it came out on that thing. It was so lucky that because most times you shoot a special you’re going to do multiple shots and multiple shows. And they edit it together and they make everything look good. I shot that. at it I had a watch on but I all I know is I decided before I went up because I ran it through brave brute so is a friend of mine who’s on the sopranos. He’s on transgender, I did a run through with him, just me and him in a comedy club alone. And we kind of decided, like, you got to start at the first day of school and end in rehab, like just just make it that like just that’s your parameters. Because otherwise if I go off on tangents, it’ll be a three hour show, everyone will be lost. So that’s what I did I go Alright, start with the first day school, and then end the show when you get your life together. And so that’s what we shot. And the editor who was at the show, it’s another person like you can’t believe it. She goes all edited. And I go, that’s the awesome she goes I’m doing Black Panther. Now, when we’re done shooting that, I’ll edit your special. She’s, yeah, her name’s Andrew Maxwell. She’s amazing. We’re shooting something this summer with our story. My wife and I wrote my wife and Jackie wrote, I did a little rewrite on to comedy fi it, you know, to me, but um, she goes, Yeah, let’s do it. And I go, Okay, so we get into the editing thing. And she’s like, there’s a lot of tricks you can do, we can do cutaways, you can take crowd shots, and we both kind of decided I’m like, I want people to really feel like they were there. And we hardly did any editing at all. We just left it the way it was and ever and I sent it to people in the business. And they said you should edit this down to 45 minutes, you should chop it down to a 30 minute special, take all the juicy spots, put in some laugh tracks, because I didn’t do any cutaways to the audience and a lot of specials do that go to a comedy club. Um, some, you know, shots of people laughing, get some big laughs and they’re like now? Nope, I’m not doing it. And that may have been a mistake. But I know at that moment, I was like, I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I did that. Because I watch comedy specials. People who aren’t comedians may not notice it. But I know when that’s a fake laugh. I know when that laugh doesn’t match that joke. I know if my reason for doing it was to really tell how I ended up being a nice kid who ended up a fall down, full blown alcoholic drug addict. I want to do it honestly. And so that’s what that’s what we did. And we got it in on Amazon Prime through like an independent film channel. I couldn’t be happier. Because it could have easily been like, boring long. This isn’t comedy. And I haven’t gotten any of that. If anything, I’ve gotten, like real responses where people remember what I was talking about. It wasn’t like a joke that went through their head and they forget like, Oh, I heard this joke the other night. People remember the stories. And they remember laughing real laughing. And that, that’s that that is the most fulfilling thing that I’ve ever wanted in comedy.
And that that was exactly my experience with it, too. I mean, it’s one of those things. And I’m sure if if people hadn’t recognized it, but a lot of times when you laugh out loud, it’ll be in a group setting if other people are laughing, but to laugh out loud by yourself something that has to really, really be hitting you. And when I was watching, I mean it just it. It just nailed me to a tee. I absolutely loved it. It was it was great watching it. And I mean, but at no point was I thinking, you know what? He should have done it. I mean, I’m obviously not a stand up comedian. So I don’t notice the nuances. But I mean, I watch shows and at no point was I thinking he should have done a cutaway or cut this down to 30 minutes or anything like that. I think a stumble in the woods is an absolute just, it is a great, great stand up special. Everyone should watch it and want to be respectful of your time. In wrapping up, what would you recommend to someone who is trying to get sober?
Yeah, listen, I have two people that are supposedly I’m helping that don’t call me. So one of the best things is to do what’s recommended.
it’s going to be uncomfortable, and you got to stop worrying about being cool. You got us try and stop maybe doing it your way.
I wish there was like a magic spell or a prayer or a sentence that would lead people to get this. But the fact of the matter is, I there’s people in my family that I haven’t been able to help. And then there’s people that I can’t believe they’ve they’ve gotten us clean and sober. So all I’m saying is we’re rooting for you. If you want help, it’s there. And it’s better than you you think it’s going to be like my life is. It’s not all flash and all this stuff like that. But I’ve become the person I kind of want to be. And I see that in my you know, my relationship with my wife and my kids. I have actual friends, people come to you know, take it take a chance on something different. The best thing I’ve heard about it is fear is five miles high 10 miles wide, and paper thin. If you take that first, you know, action or step and go like how do you do it? How did you do it? And you listen and you take simple direction at the beginning. Just see what happens. So like my advice to you is if you’re not if your life isn’t going the way you want it, and you think the problem is drugs and alcohol. The best way to see if it is really the problem is to eliminate it and see what happens. And the best way to eliminate it is to not do it alone. And I am not a joiner at all. But there does come a time when you need to be and for me when I when I try and do this alone. I am really set myself up for disaster. So
yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So and everyone who’s trying to find you online, where can they find you, Matt? Um,
well, Matt Gallagher, comedy is an easy way to do it on Facebook, or, you know, Matt Gallagher on Facebook. m Gallagher comic. I think it’s my Twitter. I think I’ve been I’ve Instagram, Matt Gallagher stories on Instagram. I’m not a social media. But if you contact me, I will get get to you. Or if you want to find out what shows I’m doing. I post them. I perform pretty much the same places around here. I’m working on a new special which of course I was rehearse but I will work bits out as I go. And it’s going to be like that the next step and what I think is, you know, trying to live a happy life, you know, the lessons I’ve learned. And this is coming from like a pessimist. Like a you know, the world’s a mess guy. But I think within the the the storm you know I you can you can you can be happy. That’s what I found anyway. Yeah,
yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. Matt, thank you so much for being on self made and sober. If you guys enjoyed the episode, please subscribe. Check out of stumble in the woods. I guarantee you will absolutely love it if you if you’re a fan of this show and the debauchery that people run into and there’s a million great stories that Matt has on it and we’ll look forward to your upcoming work. And thanks again that
thanks for having me and this is really nice.
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