Take a quick trip to Manhattan, and you’ll love ‘The Gong Show Live Off Broadway’

Leslie Gold ‘The Radiochick’ brings it to New York with all trimmings of old TV show


By Ryan Sloan

Observer Correspondent

Several years ago, while Leslie Gold was hosting her wildly popular show on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio — you know Leslie as “The Radiochick” — she landed a guest she’d always wanted on the show: “Gong Show” host Chuck Barris. She always admired his show — “I loved his kooky genius and fatherly way,” Gold says.

And she was hardly the only one who loved Barris and the show.

During its run, it had a cult-like following, with around 8 million regular viewers. But after the show went off the air, that was it for “The Gong Show,” despite some reruns on GSN and other networks.

So Gold had this idea — let’s bring the show back for live performances. Sony owned the show’s trademark, and after some negotiation — and a really good lawyer — Gold had permission to bring the show back.

And thus, “The Gong Show Live Off Broadway” was born.

Ahead of its time

Gold puts it well when she says “The Gong Show” was well ahead of its time as a TV reality show. In truth, it was one of the first shows — much like some of today’s reality programs — that allowed everyday folks with (or without) talent to audition to be on TV to perform. But it’s a lot different now.

While there are indeed regular Joes who audition for Gold’s version of the show, it is the professionals who make up the majority of the cast. In fact, more than 1,000 professional performers have auditioned for the show over the last few years. They’ve already been on shows like “America’s Got Talent,” “30 Rock,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Conan” on TBS.

“They’re just really great performers,” Gold says.

In the new show, there are 30 total core acts. But they’re rotated so 14 perform each month.

If one were to go to see the show three times in three consecutive months, chances are you’d never see the same show twice.

There are also celebrity judges, too. Gold is one of them. So is her former radio sidekick Chuck Nice, who you’ll often see guest hosting on “The View” or doing segments on “The Today Show.” Comedians Carey Reilly, Dan Naturman and Danny Cohen judge, as does Q-104.3’s Ken Dashow.

Comedian Ray Ellin is the host.

Gold says Ellin does a magnificent job of playing Barris’ role.

“Ray has the charm of Chuck, and you’ll always find him on the side of the performers — good or gonged,” Gold says. “He’s a real champion for the acts and he’s extremely fast on his feet.”

Gamble pays off

Initially, Gold had hoped a three-engagement run a few years ago at BB Kings in Manhattan would be enough to turn “The Gong Show Off Broadway” into a monthly affair. And it did.

Each month, at the Cutting Room in Manhattan, you’ll find Gold and the crew putting on the show.

Gold says she has a few favorite acts, including the 80-year-old contortionist and Amazing Amy, a woman who can put her head up to her own buttocks.

“Amy wears a Star Trek outfit,” Gold says. “And the band plays the Star Trek theme as she performs. It’s perfect.”

Great for groups

In addition going in small groups, there are also large group rates — so if you’re looking to put together a night out for the office or social group you might belong to, here’s one fantastic and hilarious way to do just that.

“We went, my husband and I did, and we had such a good time, I can’t even explain it right,” says Jean Walker of Bloomfield. “I think what made it even more enjoyable is that we went, laughed our rear ends off and still didn’t have to part with a lot of cash to do this. If you’re looking for a great night out, not too far from home, and you’re not so willing to part with a lot of cash, you’ve got to go see this show — that’s how good it is.”

The bottom line is “The Gong Show Live Off Broadway” is a magnificent night out for the family, and is just a few miles away in Manhattan. And it’s all at a reasonable price.

If you don’t leave the theater with pains in your stomach from laughing out of control, chances are something’s seriously wrong with you.

If you go…
What: The Gong Show Live Off Broadway
Where: The Cutting Room, 44 E. 32nd St., New York City
When: 7:30 p.m., Jan. 9, April 3 (check website for other dates/times)
Ticket prices: $49 for reserved center-stage seats; $35 for general admission
To buy tickets or for more info: Visit www.gongshowlive.net

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