THR has an exclusive interview with a one “Tommy Maitland”—a British 72-year-old comedian who is hosting ABC’s Gong Show reboot.
Rumor has it that Maitland is none other than Mike Myers, who will be completely submerging himself into the character to the point where there will be no mention of Myers in connection to the show at all.
Well, I mean, there is this THR interview that kind of does the wink-wink that it really is Myers. But if that’s the case, Gong Show producer Will Arnett is “all in” for the joke.
Arnett gushed to THR how excited he is to have Maitland on board:
“I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy since I first saw his stand-up in the U.K. while traveling as a teenager. He was so funny and original. I had the good fortune to cross paths with Tommy a few years ago and ever since we’ve talked about working together. I tried for years to come up with a vehicle that was suitable to expose his immense talent on a bigger stage, and The Gong Show is the perfect fit.”
As for Maitland, he’s apparently just doing it for the money:
Well, I did have some money problems back in England. Some terrible investments, I overspent and taxation during the ’70s was a killer. And they waved a tremendous amount of cash under my nose, which for me, at this time in my life, is welcome indeed.
The original Gong Show aired from 1976 to 1980 and was hosted by Chuck Barris, who at one point claimed to be a secret CIA assassin. It featured purposely awful routines that guest-hosts would vote on. There was also a 1980 The Gong Show Movie, also starring Barris, a very brief revival called Extreme Gong (you can’t make this shit up you really can’t) in 1998, and Comedy Central’s even briefer The Gong Show with Dave Attell in 2008.
The new Gong Show will apparently have such high-profile guests as Jack Black, Zach Galifianakis, Elizabeth Banks, Andy Samberg, Joel McHale, Dana Carvey, and Alison Brie.
As for the possibility that Myers is indeed going incognito as alter-ego Maitland, it’s very reminiscent of comic Andy Kaufman and his routine as lounge singer Tommy Clifton. Kaufman, who co-starred in Taxi and was the subject of the 1999 bio-pic Man on the Moon, essentially created a “new person” with Clifton and went out of his way to create the illusion that they were two separate people—to the point where he would have a Clifton “double” appear alongside him.
When Myers was recently asked by THR about the possibility of a new Austin Powers movie, he gave a very interesting answer referencing how he did those films in tribute to his late father, who introduced him to British movies and humor. Perhaps with Maitland, the actor/comedian is coming full circle?
The new Gong Show will premiere June 22.