The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

16 Jul
Bob Hunt

Resurrecting Anarchy

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 3 comments


Back with more stuff…

If an eight-note bass run segueing into Count Basie’s Jumpin’ at the Woodside still causes you to stop whatever you’re doing in wide-eyed anticipation of a portly stagehand’s shuffling dance moves, then you remember the anarchic joy of The Gong Show. The jazzy motif would interrupt the show at an unexpected moment, causing host Chuck Barris to ecstatically dance along and whipping up the audience into a jubilant frenzy. All this to hail the unremarkable moves of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, who did his thing while a bizarre assortment of incongruous props pelted him from the wings. It made no sense at all, and that was the point. The recurring bit was one of the greatest intentional non-sequiturs in television. Who among those of us who enjoyed it has not since hoped in vain for those infectious bass notes to bring forth a chaotic interruption of a dull business meeting? The numbers for the third quarter were not as high as we–What’s that?–It’s Gene Gene the Dancing Machine!

Playing along with entertainment conventions and then suddenly destroying them with dadaist glee made the novel game show parody special. No doubt Comedy Central will try to capture that riotous spirit with its new version of The Gong Show set to debut tomorrow night. Hosted by Dave Attell, this latest incarnation promises to retain the format of unusual acts judged by a rotating panel of irreverent celebrity judges. But is it possible for anyone today to recreate the strange concoction of surrealism, send-up, and nod-and-a-wink hipness that Barris and company perfected?

We’re living in what surely must be the Golden Age of Reality Television, and jaded viewers have come to suspect and even expect that every moment of apparent spontaneity is as contrived as a product placement. How can a modern Gong Show even hope to capture the precarious, living-on-the-edge, anything-can-happen tension of its predecessor when today’s audiences are likely to believe that any outrageousness has been carefully scripted? Can any other host duplicate the endearing intrigue of Chuck Barris, whose antics alternately entertained and left viewers questioning his sanity? Most importantly, can the zany magic that was Gene Gene the Dancing Machine be reproduced at will? On that last question, I will give a confident no. I’ve been listening for the opening strains of Jumpin’ at the Woodside for years now, and only in my memory does it bring forth maniacal bedlam.

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3 Comments

    Eric Greenberg
    on Jul. 18th, 2008

    I’ll probably catch a few minutes out of curiousity. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, Chuck Barris’ “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” is a fun summer read. I actually prefer it to the movie.

    Kimberly
    on Jul. 29th, 2008

    Thank you for posting– led me to clips so that I could relive that joyous feeling that all on the show so freely expresseed!

    –thanks for the reminder of Barris’s book!

    Anyone check out the new remake?

    —read a review and it is a shame that they can’t recapute the silly show tunes ,etc. and had to go the route of disgusting and sickening.

    I still remember Gene Gene the Dancing Maching and The Unknown Comic….from the few shows I saw when I was a kid….
    ..
    Doesn’t seem to be a dvd…..?

    Kimberly
    on Jul. 31st, 2008

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDeSytEdxN8&feature=related

    http://www.FORA.tv –full clip

    For book signing Q &A – Discussion for
    Barris’s latest book.

    Thanks for posting your blog, enoy the clip!

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