Juggler Michael Menes and magician and mime Leland Faulkner appear to elongate their extremities on “The Gong Show.” The episode they appear in will air at 8 p.m. Thursday on ABC.

Two Mainers who have performed all over the world will face a distinctly American challenge Thursday night – the threat of being “gonged” on TV.

Magician and mime Leland Faulkner and juggler Michael Menes will perform on ABC’s “The Gong Show” Thursday at 8 p.m. The wacky game show first aired in 1976, featuring celebrity judges poised to strike a giant gong to disqualify acts that were too weird or just plain bad.

Performing as a duo known as SNAFU!, Faulkner and Menes wore black clothes and dark glasses while appearing to elongate their extremities in silly and painful-to-watch ways.

“It was all very tongue-in-cheek, done with a sense of fun. It wasn’t exactly hugely meaningful,” said Faulkner, 61, of Auburn. “It’s probably not the most important thing I’ve done, but it was a hoot.”

The pair filmed their spot on the show in Hollywood in May. Did they get the gong? Well, they can’t say, so you’ll have to tune in to find out.

“The Gong Show” is no “American Idol.” It’s long been known for strange, off-beat kinds of acts. On Thursday’s show, Menes and Faulkner are scheduled to face a woman who balances lit candles and a guitar-playing gymnast, among others. The show is hosted by comedian and actor Mike Myers. The prize for the winner is a check for $2,018.


The biggest challenge, Menes said, was squeezing down what is normally a four-minute part of their act to 90 seconds, as required by “The Gong Show.” The act they perform is a parody of the fashion industry, Menes said.

“In fashion, people can lose themselves,” said Menes, 56, of Buckfield. “We disfigure ourselves and stretch ourselves out.”

Faulkner, who is trained as a mime and does comedy and magic, said the idea to stretch themselves came from old vaudeville acts. He said he first used the gimmick while doing a mad scientist character on stage years ago.

Faulkner and Menes have been working together as SNAFU! for about three years. Both have performed in festivals, theaters and other venues around the world.

The two have known each other since the 1980s and have both been connected with Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris, a well-known center of physical theater training founded in 1972 by Tony Montanaro. Menes said the two were contacted by “The Gong Show” through someone at Celebration Barn.

Menes said he’s been on variety TV shows in Europe before but never on an American network show. Being on “The Gong Show,” he said, was “surreal.” He and Faulkner rehearsed with Myers, who hosts the show as a character named Tommy Maitland, who is supposed to be a British comic.


“He didn’t joke around or anything. He was focused on making sure everything went well,” said Menes.

“The Gong Show” first became a phenomenon in 1976 when it debuted on NBC as a daytime game show. It was hosted by Chuck Barris and featured celebrity judges wielding gongs and making jokes, as well as irreverent regulars like “The Unknown Comic.” The show aired until 1980, then came back three times – in 1988, 2008 and 2017.

The latest edition, the one hosted by Myers, is in its second season and airs during the summer. Myers, known for the “Austin Powers” and “Wayne’s World” films, is a co-executive producer.

“I’m not into the competition part, but I certainly remember ‘The Gong Show,’ and that’s one of the reasons I liked doing this,” said Menes. “I liked meeting all the crazy acts.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


Twitter: @RayRouthier

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