Only in the seventies could this show happen. It was like amateur hour at a high school with celebrities judging the event for laughs. This show was so bad it was good. That is the heart of the show…so bad it’s good… If an act was bad…which many were the judges would bang a gong to show their dislike.
The winner would win $516.32… union scale at the time.
Chuck Barris was the emcee of this grand extravaganza. Some of the acts judged were bad and they knew it and tried to be worse, some really thought they were good but were bad and a very few were actually good.
Some talented people were on the show at different times. Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), Steve Martin, Cheryl Lynn, and more.
The judges included Jamie Farr, Jaye P Morgan, Arte Johnson, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller and Anson Williams. Jaye P. Morgan was fired off the show for flashing the audience…and camera.
The two things I remember most about it was a stagehand that would dance called Gene Gene, the Dancing Machine, and The popsicle twins. How the censors let the Popsicle Twins get through I don’t know… they were shown on the east coast but their segment never made it to the west coast.
The Gong Show was finally cancelled because the rumour was that NBC warned Barris to tone down the racy elements of the show…he never did. In the last show, Barris played in a country band called the “Hollywood Cowboys” and sang a modified Johnny Paycheck song “Take this job and shove it” and gave NBC the finger.
When you think back on shows you watched when you were younger and you get a chance to watch them now…it’s usually different than you remembered…not this one. This one is exactly how I remembered.