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Alumni News: Class Years 2000-2009

Vince Romanelli, Class of 2003, Appears On ABC's The Gong Show (July 6)

Friday, June 30, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Nashville musician Vince Romanelli knew he was in for something a little strange when he traveled to Los Angeles earlier this year to perform on TV's new "The Gong Show."

Those expectations were exceeded — in a good way.

"The Gong Show," of course, is a revival of the outlandish talent show that ruled TV in the 1970s.

Romanelli is 35, so the original show was slightly before his time. 

"I knew it was silly," he tells The Tennessean. "But I didn't realize how silly the show was."

He found himself sharing a backstage with hog-callers and dancers in cockroach costumes. And to be fair, his act is pretty unusual as well. 

Dubbed "Vince In Progress," he plays drums and DJs at the same time, with cutting-edge tech (known as "projection-mapping") that puts moving images on his instruments. 

But the strangest part of the new "Gong Show," by far, is the host.

If 'The Gong Show' host Tommy Maitland reminds you a lot of Mike Myers, you may be on to something. (Photo: Bob D'Amico, ABC)

Officially, it's British comedian "Tommy Maitland," and that's the only name the show, its producers and network ABC will acknowledge. 

In reality, it's comedian Mike Myers, playing a brand-new character under a ton of makeup and prosthetics. 

And Romanelli, like every other contestant, is playing along.

"I grew up a huge Tommy Maitland fan," he says. "I didn't get to hang out with him very much, but to finish my performance and to shake his hand and stand next to him as he was asking the judges what their scores were, it was pretty cool. I may have said something a little too snarky for his liking, but he was one-upping me."

One of those judges, funnily enough, was Dana Carvey, who co-starred with Myers in "Wayne's World." Romanelli says Carvey and Maitland seemed to work really well together.

Romanelli's episode doesn't air until July 6, so he can't say how his performance was received. But we do know he was happy with the experience.

"For me, it made all of the work worth it, and that's what I was chasing," he says. "I wanted an act I was proud of, outcome aside."

THE GONG SHOW - "Episode 106" - Celebrity judges Dana Carvey, "black-ish"'s Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson are set to praise, critique and gong unusually talented and unique performers, on "The Gong Show," THURSDAY, JULY 6 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eddy Chen) VINCE IN PROGRESS (Photo: Eddy Chen, ABC)

And now that he's brought the act to national television, Romanelli isn't stopping there. He has two lofty long-term goals: to perform on "Saturday Night Live" and to have a residency in Las Vegas.

In the meantime, he's seeing where else his one-of-a-kind act can take him.

See "Vince In Progress" make his TV debut on July 6.

"The Gong Show" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. CT on ABC.

From The Tennessean | Dave Paulson


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