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Silliness has its place

June 26, 2017 GMT

I watched “The Gong Show” with a few tweens and young teen girls, not reruns of the old Gong Show, but the new remake of this show. It just happened to come on after “Boy Band.” Again, I watched that with these girls, who, for whatever the reason, found the idea of spending 2 hours watching teen-age boys sing their hopes and dreams into the girls’ hearts was a good idea.

They judged who they liked, who they didn’t, who had bad clothes, who had bad hair, and once in a while, mentioned their singing. Then, “The Gong Show” came on. The girls looked at me with an expression I can only describe as dumbfounded. “What on earth are these people doing?” was the main sentence during the first part of the show. I explained, between laughter, how the original Gong Show worked. How we cheered, how we laughed, how we knew these people, including Chuck Barris and the Unknown Comic were crazy. Of course they were, that was the point,

Once the girls got the idea down, it was an hour of absolute hilarity; not the show itself, no, that was just the same as the old show, but the shouts of “Gong them!!”. The forehead slaps at the crazy people that didn’t get gonged, the arms in the air in despair as someone they liked got the gong. No matter how bad that show was, it brought out some of the best in this crazy house of viewers.

I dislike remakes of movies, any movies, classic or not, you just shouldn’t remake them. I don’t normally like spin-offs as much as the original, and a remake of the Gong Show was not high on my list of things to watch, but we had fun. Lots of it. The girls got crazy songs stuck in their heads, and a thousand thoughts of crazy things they could do brought outbursts of laughter amidst the snacks of Lucky Charms and ice cream. I’m pretty sure they could come up with some plans that would beat out the competition on “The Gong Show,” and even if they didn’t, they would have fun planning the antics.

I can’t imagine a variety show, the kind I watched, such as Carol Burnett, or Jackie Gleason, or Ed Sullivan would get much viewership these days. The jokes have been told and retold on computer memes ( I would hate to be a comic these days), and the availability of songs and videos on phones and computers would virtually make it impossible for those types of shows to spark someone’s interest. We watch them in syndication at times, but it’s not the same.

As one young teen pronounced from the living room floor during “The Gong Show,” “this is NOW!! these people are doing these things right NOW! They look like something from 50 years ago doing that crazy stuff.” Well, yes, yes they did......but, my dear child, didn’t you watch it? Didn’t you laugh yourself silly at the sheer silliness of people? That’s the idea, there were no computer graphics, no songs you love, no one you knew; and yet you laughed, you all laughed. You felt bad for the guy with the jump rope who came in second and didn’t win the $2,000.17 in prize money, and made plans to be sure to have popcorn handy for the next episode in a week.

The show probably won’t last the season, and very few probably watched it. There was no bad language, no mega-stars baring more skin than you see on the beach; it was just simply silly. We became simply silly right along with them. So it doesn’t matter that the show itself is a joke. It took me back to the days of the old Gong Show we made fun of,and watched anyway.

I don’t suggest anyone watch the show, if you’ve seen one Gong Show, well, you know what I mean. But oh, how grateful I am for that hour of laughs, the fact that I got to explain a show to teens who know-it-all ( albeit, it was the Gong Show), and the hour of laughter afterwards as they planned the craziest things they could think of. I’ll take those two hours of silly and run with it.

Kay LeRoy is the daughter of the late Dick Fleckenstein, a former longtime editor of the Fort Madison Daily Democrat, and Mary Ann Fleckenstein who now lives in Davenport. LeRoy now resides in Georgia.