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‘Gong Show’ coming to Lincolnton

Grayson Nolen, the host of Lincolnton’s “Gong Show,” which will be held on Oct. 14.

MICHELLE T. BERNARD
Staff Writer

Even though Lincoln Idol was a success last year, the Gong Show is coming to Lincolnton in October instead. Roger Calhoun, president of the Arts Council of Lincoln County, wanted to honor the life of Chuck Barris, the creator and host of the original Gong Show, an “un-talent” show that debuted on NBC on June 14, 1976 and ran until July 21, 1978. It also ran in syndication from 1976 through 1980 and in 1988. Barris died on March 21.

“He was truly the act that brought that off-beat humor like Saturday Night Live to life,” Calhoun said.

ABC rebooted the Gong Show in August with comedian Mike Myers playing the part of host Tommy Maitland.

“It started out a little slow but last week and the week before was a really good show,” Calhoun said. “They’re coming back into the rhythm of the original Gong Show.”

Lincolnton’s Gong Show will run like the original Gong Show, with the exception of the addition of a smiley face above the gong. With every act that comes out, the smiley face says “be nice” on it so that no one in the crowd starts yelling before the act has approximately 30 seconds to get going. When the light goes out, all bets are off.

“You better have your act together to be able to make it through the show,” Calhoun said.

The winner of the show will go away with a little over $3,000 in prizes and gifts with the second place winner receiving a monetary amount based on their score from the three judges, multiplied by three. The third place prize will be calculated in the same manner, with a dollar for each point. There will also be a prize for the crowd favorite.

The judges will be City of Lincolnton Mayor Ed Hatley, Ricky Vacca, who toured with the cast of “Beatlemania” and “1964-The Tribute” and opened as a solo performer for national acts over the past 20 years, and Paige Rice, who has taught school in Lincoln County for 24 years and has been on stage since she was 10 years old. Most recently, Rice played Justice or “Momma” in the Lincoln Theatre Guild’s popular “Rock of Ages.” The host will be Grayson Nolen, who has been in many Lincoln Theatre Guild productions, including playing the part of “Lonny,” the narrator in “Rock of Ages.”

“It will be a high-energy show,” Calhoun said. “We’re working on some things that will go on before the show so get here early – don’t try to wait until right before the show starts. When you go home you’re going to sleep well because you’ll be wore out from laughing.”

The Lincolnton Gong Show is still looking for submissions of talent for the show, which will be on Oct. 14. At this time, it is to be held at the Lincoln Cultural Center but, if the tickets sold exceed the seating at the Cultural Center, it will be moved to the James Warren Citizens Center.

Submissions can either be made by video or during auditions held at the Lincoln Cultural Center on Aug. 18 and 19. The auditions can be scheduled by calling the Arts Council of Lincoln County at 704-732-9044. For more information on submissions visit the Lincolnton Gong Show’s web site at http://lincolntongongshow.com. The cut-off for submissions is Sept. 1. There will be a total of 30 acts accepted into the show and there’s no cost to make submissions and there will be a small entry fee for those selected to appear on the show.

The Gong Show is not a traditional talent show. While there will be singers, comedians, dancers and others performing, there will also be unusual talent like what might be seen in an amusement park or a street act.

“We are looking for anything that’s entertaining,” Calhoun said. “It’s not necessarily the best singer that will win the Gong Show – it’s the one that made the crowd laugh the hardest.”

If the potential participant is 16 years old or younger, a guardian must be present throughout the show. All proceeds from the show will benefit the Arts Council of Lincoln County.

Image courtesy of Michelle T. Bernard

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