Friday, July 18, 2008

The Gong Show with Dave Attell: Premiere Episode

The Gong Show, for those of you/us not old enough to remember the original, was this unique program from thousands of years ago that could loosely be called a talent competition. People would come out and do something vaguely funny, musical, or sexy, and as long as people didn't get bored, they could show America their talent. If what they were showing America irritated the judges, they'd hit a gong and that'd be that. This image of the gong is so powerful that it transcended the show, becoming a reference you could trot out and people would understand. "Oh, this show sucks. I wish he could be gonged." They even use it at film festivals in Tucson, AZ, to move things along. Simple. Easy. Effective.

Because nostalgia isn't so much a place in your heart than it is a cave of intellectual property to be mined, Comedy Central brought back a program that, really, is more of a game show than anything else. The first episode of the new show has aired, and it brings Dave Attell with a decent selection of cackling cronies celebrity judges. There's Dave Navarro, he of Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers fame. As no women judges were on this episode, he also qualifies as the prettiest of the panel. Andy Dick appears, looking as creepy as one might expect, with numerous references to his liklihood of jumping the contestants. Rounding out the trio was JB Smoove, who I must confess I know only of his wonderful stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm as one of the Blacks. I mean, one of the people Larry took in from Hurricane Katrina. (You know what I mean.) Future judges scheduled include Jim Norton, Brian Posehn, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Adam Corolla, and many others. It's a mixed bag.

The acts were all over the place. There was a trash rock act (named "Trash" if I can read my notes right) which sounded like the kind of sleazy garage act you'd hope to see open for a band at some random dive on a weekend. (They got gonged.) There was also some stripper act involving some chick and a guy in a monkey costume that seemed like it came straight from Chris Katan's "Mr. Peepers" character on SNL. (No gong here.) There was a guy who played wine glasses, a couple of guys who slapped their chests and pants, and even a "magician" who ripped a rabbit out of his stomach. The chest-slappers won, despite the stripper actually whipping out her boobs. Hey, I know what America likes, and it's the booby. The grand prize? $600. That sounds about right.

I have to say I'm a little surprised there's not a single female judge planned for the show, and I'm even more surprised that they were so hesitant to use the gong. It's called The Gong Show. You have a gong. USE IT. Seeing the show updated for the generation entertained by 30-second YouTube clips and aired on Comedy Central means that what you're getting is a show geared for a post-The Man Show world. The humor is aimed at college-ish men, and unfortunately, there's not a lot of it. Attell doesn't get a lot of opportunities to shine. On Insomniac he was a walking physical manifestation of enthusiasm. Someone would ask if he wanted to see them clean sewage, and he made it fun. Granted, he was drunk, but still it made for some engaging television. Hopefully we'll see more of that Dave Attell next week.

Andy Dick steals the show to do whatever it is he does every chance he gets. If I wanted to see Andy Dick just being an ass, I could tune in to any of a number of late night talk shows and get basically the same thing. The commentary of JB Smoove seemed to totally fit the show, be it the original incarnation or this 2008 version. He seems to get what they're trying to do without looking too cool or too edgy or anything. He's perfect. You'll probably like him.

This episode was engaging enough that I'll tune in and watch at least one or two more episodes, but not without a limited amount of personal shame. I have a hard time believing The Gong Show with Dave Attel is going to get picked up for multiple seasons, especially given Comedy Central's itchy trigger finger as of late. Check it out while you can, odds are it's going to be on for a month or two, and then rerun at 4:00 AM at some point in 2011. I suggest you watch it. If you don't like it, you can take solace in that the 30 minutes of airtime this show uses prevented another encore airing of Mind of Mencia. Bless you, Dave Attell, just for that.

Additional Bitching:
- Too much "show", not enough "gong."
- Navarro was totally making out with one of the girls they hired to bring out signs and stuff. Or so it seemed!
- Andy Dick is still a man whore, and creepy. Even without his recent arrest on the brain.
- "Hey Mr. Dick, want to spank my monkey?"
- Anyone want to take bets on when someone will come on to perform The Popsicle Twins routine again?
- Are we going to see any more amusing bands? Bad or good, slimy bands always make for good TV. Plus the original show had Oingo Boingo on it, so yeah, maybe we'll see some future talent here. But probably not.

1 comment:

tara said...

I am a HUGE Dave Attell fan and I was really excited to see what he was going to do with this reanimated version of the Gong Show. I agree with you that Dave doesn't have much time to shine. My favorite line was "ready, set, canceled" which Dave uttered referring to his own show on the first episode. I have now watched 2 weeks worth of this mess and I am totally disappointed. The judging criteria and scoring methods were never explained to the audience. What does Comedy Central think that it is doing, anyway? They should just put the show down and resurrect Insomniac in its place.