Before the X-Factor, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and all of the seemingly endless array of televised talent shows, there was the Gong Show. Whereas today contestants battle it out for a record contract or endorsement deal in front of a panel of judges that are payed in the millions, the Gong Show was a bit more old school.
The show was hosted by the perfectly awkward and ever-stylish Chuck Barris (check out those outfits!). Each episode featured a panel of three ever-changing celebrity judges that included the likes of Jaye P. Morgan, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller, and Anson Williams. Amateur performers would go up, do their thing, and If any judge considered an act to be particularly bad, he or she could strike a large gong, which happened rather frequently! However, if the performance was good enough to entertain everyone for 30 seconds, it would be rated by the celebrity panel on a scale of one to ten. At the end of each episode the act with the highest score would win the “grand prize” of $516.32, a number chosen by Chuck Barris to keep winning from being too important to anyone. Professionals weren’t allowed to compete for the grand prize, so the talent was pretty iffy, but that was the fun of it all! Some were alarmingly horrible, while others were impressively good…
The show also had some regular, beloved performers including Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, and the Unkown Comic.
Such amazing, slightly offensive, talentless, and endlessly entertaining insanity! Don’t you wish it was still on?!