If you are anything like me, when you first watched a preview for ABC's The Gong Show, you were like: "How have I never heard of this 'legendary host Tommy Maitland'? And why does this British dude look so much like Mike Myers?" Well, after some quick Googling, you can easily discover that it's because Tommy Maitland on The Gong Show is Mike Myers — allegedly. The Hollywood Reporter noted that while no one involved in the show will officially go on the record to say that Tommy Maitland is Myers, it's safe to assume it's really him. But the former Saturday Night Live star isn't breaking character for his hosting gig on The Gong Show and because of his method approach, you'll probably never know the real reason why Myers is playing Maitland — and that's perhaps the most fascinating thing about ABC's latest game show revival.
While I'm ambivalent about The Gong Show, I'm pretty stoked to see Myers return in this fashion (especially since it's best not to discuss his last character-based movie, 2008's The Love Guru). It's truly bizarre and wholly original that he'd embody a made-up character with such unwavering dedication for a network game show and the joke of Myers playing this old British comedian character goes further than what he does on the actual Gong Show. There's an incredibly detailed backstory about Maitland on ABC's Gong Show page — complete with how he met Will Arnett, who produces the show — and in interviews promoting the game show, Myers maintains his Maitland character.
Even though no one will go on the record about why Myers is approaching his hosting duties like this, it's pretty in character for him as an actor and comedian. Myers has lost himself in a number of characters over the years — and most of them are usually of British descent. Of course, Austin Powers is British, but Myers also played the English general Ed Fenech in more of a straight role in Inglourious Basterds. And he created the British character Sir Cecil Worthington for a short film for the Oscars in 2012.
Myers likes to represent other United Kingdom countries too — specially Scotland. Shrek, who Myers voices for all of the animated films, is notably Scottish, as was Fat Bastard in the Austin Powers movies. His Scottish schtick even goes so far back as 1993 when he played Stuart MacKenzie — the father of Myers' main character Charlie — in So I Married an Axe Murderer.
This focus on British people may seem odd for a comedian from Canada, but it actually makes a lot of sense once you know Myers' family's origins. As he explained to The Guardian in 2010, both of Myers' parents were born in Liverpool, England, and he also has Scottish heritage. His parents' Britishness has had a huge influence on his comedy as he said:
Dad loved movies and I grew up with British comedy. My ultimate favorite is Peter Sellers. I loved the Ealing comedies, Monty Python, Alec Guinness. It's true that Englishness, comedy and otherwise, is a very big part of my life: And there's nobody more English than an Englishman who no longer lives in England.
Myers is clearly using what he absorbed from those British comedic icons in his role as Tommy Maitland.
So while you may not necessarily get why Myers is so devoted to his latest persona, you can't deny that it's not only so very Myers, but also kind of impressively awesome. And you can watch Myers stay in character all summer long once The Gong Show premieres on ABC on June 22.