The fourth annual Branson Gong Show at Hamner Barber Theatre once again proved Tri-Lakes Area residents have talent, and a sense of humor.
A recurring theme of the night was acts that surprised.
Opening act Jason Gordon, the 2012 winner of the Branson Gong Show, announced he’ll be performing in a show at the Branson Star Theater this year paying tribute to “Hee Haw.”
But that wasn’t the end of the surprises, from contestants coming on stage and not performing, to Aaron Dulin’s pot and pan drum rendition, acts kept the audience, and the judges, on their toes.
“When you came out, I expected a Baldknobbers act,” said judge Dalena Ditto in reference to “Hobo” Dan Eckley. “That was great.”
While Eckley was dressed as a clown-like hobo, he raised some eyebrows with a heartfelt performance of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers.
It wasn’t without a few laughs, of course. Comedian Terry Sanders, playing the cross-dressed role of Joan Rivers again this year, played up the story of Eckley’s song tugging at his heart strings. Ditto joined in on the act as the two judges clung to Eckley while he finished his song.
It was all enough to earn Eckley a third place finish in the show.
The overall winner was the duo of Gabe Davis and Eli Inskeep, who performed an active human puppeteering-type act to music.
The second place winner was 6-year-old Brooklyn Harris, who performed a gymnastics routine.
But, as always, the show isn’t just about the laughs.
The Branson Gong Show raises money for the Branson Senior Center’s homebound meal program.
“We had a good turnout, especially for it being so cold,” said Teri Barry, director of the Branson Senior Center. “We ended up having more than I expected.”
While the final totals have yet to be announced, Barry said more than $4,000 was raised for the program.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said.
The judges for this year’s show were the same as last year. Brydon Brett, Joseph Hall, Ditto and Sanders, as Joan Rivers, “gonged” acts and handed out scores like six-point-five-and-a-half and “Nine and a sandwich.”
Jim Barber, of Hamner Barber Theatre, was once again the emcee, and he was joined by Bogie & The Gong Show Geeks as backup band.
The band included Bogie Bohinc, Marcus Willett, Daniel Dossey and Gary Freeman.