Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Everybody Is a Star - Theater - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

Thus was born the Stranger Gong Show, an audition-free cavalcade of talent open to anyone who showed up. Anyone over 21, that is—all Stranger Gong Shows have occurred in nightclubs (first the Croc, then Chop Suey), and what we've lost in 6-year-old blues singers, we've made up for in drunken rambunctiousness. Keeping everything in check: the mighty gong, which hangs over performers' heads like an appropriated Asian guillotine. Why a gong? Because the original Gong Show's Chuck Barris said so, and good for him: There's no sweeter rejection than a gong, which wraps failure in a deep, regal shimmer.

Despite the name, the point of a gong show is to avoid getting gonged, preferably through skill and talent, though wit can be equally effective. Case in point: Miss Peggy Guy, who in 1976 lit up TV's original Gong Show with a performance for the ages, ostensibly coming onstage to sing, but then spitting out her dentures, becoming entangled in a folding chair, losing her wig, and collapsing to the floor, all in 40 seconds. The judges gave her what she deserved: straight 10s. The moral is another passel of talent-show-verified clichés: To thine own self be true. Quit while you're ahead. Less is more. God don't make no junk.