Gong Show, The

The Gong Show TV

The Gong Show ran from 1976 until 1980 (host Chuck Barris), and again from 1988 to 1989 (host Don Bleu).  The Gong Show was essentially an amateur talent contest where participants would perform in front of a panel of three celebrity judges (such as Jamie Farr, Artie Johnson, Rip Taylor, Anson Williams, David Letterman, Phyllis Diller, and many more).  The show was known for some of the ridiculous acts of participants as well as the lame gifts that winner's would receive.  There were recurring acts on the show, like the Unknown Comic, Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, and The Whispers.

In the gong show, performers would demonstrate their talent in front of the celebrity panel, and if any of the celebrities did not like the talent, they could strike a gong, which would meant the performance was over.  Participants were given 45 seconds before the gong could officially be struck.  Much of the humor was in the antics of the judges.  If an act survived the gong, judges would score it on a scale of 0 to 10.  The participant who had the highest points at the end would receive a check for $516.32 (later increased to $716.32), which was said to be the minimum wage for the Screen Actors Guild.  The worst act for the week also received a check, in addition to a dirty tube sock.  There were some true talents to come out of the show, including Pee Wee Herman, Oingo Boingo, and a few others.