Back in October it was announced that Will Arnett was producing a Gong Show revival for ABC, and today the guest judge lineup was announced as well as the show’s new host. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the guest judge lineup includes Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Will Forte, Jack Black, Dana Carvey, Alison Brie, Andy Samberg, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, and Anthony Anderson, and the new host – a 72-year-old British standup named “Tommy Maitland” in the press release – appears to be a disguised Mike Myers. ABC has not officially confirmed that it’s Myers and only refers to Maitland in its press release, so apparently Myers will be going full method for the new gig.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Tommy since I first saw his stand-up in the UK 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,” Arnett said on the Maitland character. “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.”
The press release even includes an impressively comprehensive backstory for Maitland, which you can read in full below:
Born on July 7, 1944, Thomas Winston Maitland (his middle name is a tribute to Winston Churchill) grew up in Neasden, GLC, Borough of Brent, where his father was an actuary and in the Merchant Marine and his mother was in the RAF. After a failed stint as a pipe fitter’s apprentice, Tommy joined the British Army at the tender age of 15. He later joined the Entertainment National Service Association (ENSA), where he got to know some of the U.K.’s biggest comedians. He played the ukulele, told jokes and drummed (though he drummed badly), and he ended up hosting the show – a talent he would later be known for. He was voted ENSA Entertainer of the Year, for which he was given a guarantee to appear on British radio. He later worked as an announcer for the British radio show, The Whosey Whats, and got small roles in the Carry On films – either as the over-anxious compart at a men’s club or the strict union pipe fitter. He also appeared in the TV series, The Lord Mayor, as the cheeky mayor of a mythical town in East Anglia who struck it rich because they sat atop an oil field. In 1973, Tommy wrote a book about his time in the British Army fighting the Mau Maus called The Mau Maus are Revolting, and he also worked at a Butlin’s Holiday Camp at the same time, for two seasons, in Anglesea, Wales and Brighton. Hugely popular in Italy, he made four of his 11 films there. Two of the four were Spaghetti Westerns, where he played the fastidious banker, and the other two were James Bond knockoffs – You Only Live Once, To Be Honest and From Russia, Luv. At the same time, Tommy continued to work the working men’s clubs across England, where he received top dollar as an emcee. In 1976, Tommy starred in He Wore a Dustman’s Hat, about an upper-class London gent who discovers that his dad (Tommy Maitland) is a garbage worker for the council in Hackney. This show played on Canadian TV at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Will Arnett saw this show in syndication on Canadian TV in 1980 and thought that Tommy was a comedic genius. Later that year, Tommy bought an estate in Kent called Serendipity, which he found by accident. Serendipity was a mega-celebrity hangout where people could escape, party, do or be anything they wanted to be, free from judgment and the prying eyes of the paparazzi. In the ‘80s, Tommy hosted the British game show Tell You What, a charades-based adventure game. He later hosted an Australian game show called Dingo’s Got the Baby, in which one contestant would be the dingo and another the baby, and a chase would ensue. In 1990 he returned to England for a series of one-hour specials, called You’ve Still Got No Proof. Tommy retired at the age of 55 but was still doing ENSA gigs. He loves comedy, so he often went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to watch young comics. Will Arnett, who was doing stand-up at one of the festivals, approached and befriended him. Desperately wanting to work with Tommy, Arnett tried for years to come up with a gig that was suitable for his immense talent and The Gong Show was the perfect match. To follow Tommy on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, go to @MrTommyMaitland.
The show is slated to make its ABC debut Thursday, June 22nd.