If Tommy Maitland, the host of the new version of the ’70s guilty pleasure The Gong Show, doesn’t look familiar, he really shouldn’t.
Underneath prosthetics and a wig is Mike Myers, the comedian who became famous playing Wayne of Wayne’s World on Saturday Night Live and Austin Powers in the spy paraody movie series.
While it’s hardly a secret that Myers is playing Maitland, he and other cast members have gone to great lengths to keep up the Maitland charade.
Executive producer and sometime celebrity judge Will Arnett has done interviews praising Maitland, and there’s no mention of Myers on the ABC press site. Maitland even has his own extremely detailed biography.
In it the biography recalls how he joined the British Army when he was just 15 and later got into the entertainment business working on radio and getting “small roles” in the Carry On films as well as later TV and movie appearances, in the UK, Australia and Canada.
One section says: “He later hosted an Australian game show called “Dingo’s Got the Baby,” in which one contestant would be the Dingo, and one contestant would be the Baby, and a chase would ensue.”
Remarkably, Myers-as-Maitland also has a solid social media presence. Fans can friend his page, MrTommyMaitland, on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @MrTommyMaitland.
Why is Myers taking his faux persona so far?
The comedian, who has taken a seven-year break from any major projects, may have wanted to lend a wacky, Andy Kaufman-esque twist to this campy revamp.
Given that most of his greatest successes have come from playing a character, it might have been the most logical idea. It may just be his way of making a return to the working grind fun.
Whatever the case, fans of the Canadian comedian will probably be happy to have him back on television — even in this heavily altered form.
The Gong Show premieres Thursday, June 22, at 10/9c on ABC.