“The Gong Show”: Chuck Barris’ masterfarce

GongshowThe news that Comedy Central is reviving The Gong Show this summer hit the Variety newsroom like…a gong. A bunch of us began swapping memories of favorite acts, favorite judges and favorite unintelligible sounds made by host and producer Chuck Barris.

We learned that one of our staffers actually appeared more than once on the later 1980s version of the show, but that incarnation surely paled in comparison to Barris’ original 1976-1980 masterfarce. Variety managing editor Kathy Lyford gushed about how much she loved Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, aka stagehand Eugene Patton, who was always good for a boost if the show was dragging with his unique bit of soft shoe as the orchestra (yes, this was back when even low-budget game shows had live music) boogied to Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.”

Here’s a representative sample of his hoofing. And who knew? Patton put out a record back in the day (click here for a blog post with details):

David Letterman famously did a stint as a “Gong Show” judge (click here for proof). Others who did turns on the show in their pre-fame days include Oingo Boingo and Paul Reubens. This time around, the host will be comic Dave Attell, and it will hail from Adam Sandler’s production banner, Happy Madison Prods., as Variety reports. They are already canvasing for freaks and geeks to strut their stuff on the show — send your best pitch to gongshowcasting@aol.com